Hell hath no fury like a broker scorned  OCT 22 2002

A couple days ago, I wrote, "when the opportunity arose to move to New York, we figured why the hell not". It turns out there are many good answers to this question. Real estate is at the top of the list. If you're unfamilar with the workings of the apartment rental process in NYC, consider yourself lucky. It ranks among mankind's poorest social and technological achievements.

On a typical day, you might encounter Rita, the super who would take a chunk out your ass as soon as look at you and, as we later learned, is amenable to kickbacks. Kickbacks? Growing up in rural Wisconsin, we didn't use such words. What is this, The Sopranos?

You might also run into Suzanne from New York Apartments, a real estate broker. New York real estate brokering is middlemanliness raised to an art form, a vestigial appendage on the NYC housing market. When used car salesmen dream, they imagine themselves as brokers.

Suzanne made two mistakes in dealing with us: 1) she didn't understand our motivations and 2) she didn't know that she didn't understand our motivations. We're not the type of people that respond well to Slick Eddie salesmanship. Cultivate a relationship with us, dazzle us with knowledge, make us trust you, and do it like you're working for free. Earn that fee. Suzanne never picked up on that and was doomed from the beginning. I think the reality of the mistakes hit her as she chastized us in her snottiest tone of voice for wasting her time taking us on a tour of New York even though Meg seemed more familar with the area than she was. As she stalked off into the rain, squinting in search of the correct subway station, the chances of her collecting that fee went with her.

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