On their continual quest for world domination, brokers Luis, Ryan and Fredrik plowed through episode three of “Million Dollar Listing New York” Wednesday night imparting us with wisdom we could surely garner nowhere else. More and more, it is becoming apparent that despite some seemingly staged theatrics, “Million Dollar Listing” is an educational show and so very servicey!
Class is in session, so let’s get to learnin’. Here’s what we were schooled in last night.
Family is everything: Screw fair housing! Discussion of schools, children, and family were prevalent throughout the episode. Ryan meets Regina, the property manager for a new listing on the Upper West Side — a 2,750-square-foot, four-bedroom duplex penthouse with three terraces and park views. Because it is a combined unit, the layout is a bit wonky, with extraneous stairs and a labyrinth of rooms a la “The Shining.” Regina and Ryan agree it is a perfect spot for a family and when the going gets rough — after being on the market for a while for an overpriced $5.5 million — the tough get to face painting. Ryan targets nannies and mommy bloggers for the most kid-friendly open house in the history of open houses and teaches us about the “shiny object approach,” noting there will be so many children-friendly things in the apartment that people won’t notice how odd the layout is. Apparently it works because an offer surfaces, albeit a lowball one. Ryan even goes so far as to borrow a baby to help his negotiations with Regina, which he strategically has take place in the Central Park Zoo. After the obligatory back and forth, even though she was stuck on $5.5 million, Regina thankfully doesn’t throw out the baby with the bathwater, and accepts $4.9 million from the eager family of buyers.
Sellers are unrealistic and mouthy: In addition to Regina demanding an unrealistic asking price, Fredrik is back with client/socialite Cheryl who is adamant about raising the price of her Time Warner Center unit to $42 million even though no one bit at $34.8 million. When he balks, she accuses him of being rude and insinuates she may need to get a new broker. Regina had suggested the same when Ryan had tried to convince her $3.8 million on the aforementioned property was a good offer, saying that sounded like “bullshit” to her. Ryan tells her something profound that is basically the overall theme to every episode throughout the four seasons: “The market is going to bear what the market will bear.”
Charm will get you nowhere in real estate: Fredrik tries to charm Cheryl during their discussion of upping the price as opposed to keeping it at his suggested price. Even though Freddie winks at her and succeeds in making the socialite crack a smile when he suggests they meet in the middle … and then naming his original price, she doesn’t budge. And Ryan flashes his million-dollar smile and tells a hot-under-the-collar Regina that she is glowing asking, “What kind of creams do you use?” only to be met with more ire.
Facts, figures and social nuances are key: Fredrik consults with Helen, a business consultant well-versed in the way of Asian buyers, after Cheryl’s property languishes on the market for over six weeks. She teaches us the social nuances of dealing with rich Asians. No need to don oriental garb, she relays, and suggests Fredrik note that even though the Chinese are good at saying they “do not want to talk about money.” Further she explains a bit about feng shui and points out that the North is too cold and is a deterrent for many, so Fredrik should concentrate on the East-facing views instead and be more subtle in financial discussions. Fredrik does his trivia homework on the financial makeup of some of Asia’s most prominent cities citing these facts: In Asia, there are 41,000 people with a net worth of over $30 million and there are 488 billionaires residing there — more than any other continent.
Location, location, location: Luis meets up with the Joneses — a plastic surgeon and his trophy wife — who he previously found a vacation home for in his native Puerto Rico. They are back, now eager to sell their humongous 7,500-square-feet, 10-bedroom Hamilton Heights corner townhouse. Mrs. Jones explains that even though it has sat empty for the last five years, it is where they raised their family after purchasing the “crackhouse” at foreclosure 10 years before. Luis points out a constraint: It is north of 125th Street, the psychological wall between Manhattan and the wilderness. “Twenty blocks is like twenty miles somewhere else,” Luis says, explaining why he believes the price should be in the low three millions with a final agreement of a $3.5 million ask. Keeping on the location theme, he stages an open-house neighborhood block party to allow brokers and potential buyers see what it would be like to live in this homey area of Harlem. He sets up a soulful jazz band in the backyard, invites neighbors to bring food, but then says he ordered the “real food” from a caterer. While the attendance isn’t what he originally hoped for and rain threatens to derail his event, he does get some interest.
You can’t win them all … or can you?: When Cheryl fires Fredrik, he is devastated and suffers a minor identity crisis. But we quickly come full circle seeing the importance of family in real estate, when he confers with his husband Derek who puts all of this real estate silliness in perspective for him and surprises Fredrik by agreeing to take the next steps toward parenthood. Once again, a baby saves the day.