By Anessa Cohen
It is not unusual to hear of prospective buyers discussing with each other and their friends the various attributes of houses they have seen on the market. In fact, years ago, when large groups of couples from Forest Hills started looking for homes in the Five Towns, every Sunday, when I would take prospective buyers to show them houses, I would hear, “My friends told me all about this house on Shabbos in the park; I knew it sounded like just what I was looking for!” Or the opposite: “My friends were discussing this house in the park on Shabbos, and they said it was awful and we shouldn’t even look at it!”
It got to a point that each week when I would take out prospective buyers from Forest Hills, I would take a deep breath first and then try to get a handle on which houses were discussed that Shabbos in the park, and then get an idea of what the Shabbos-group-in-the-park reviews were on those houses before I could go any further.
Needless to say, this became daunting when I was trying to sell houses to couples with a variety of tastes and budgets, because if they heard the house bashed in the park on Shabbos, they did not want to see it for themselves; their friends already said they did not like it. On the other hand, when their friends said a house was nice, all of them, en masse, also wanted to see the house that was discussed in the park that week — even if they could not afford the house under discussion.
This also became interesting when I would unknowingly show someone a house that their friend might have seen with another broker, and I would then hear, “This house is great, but I think my friend so-and-so is interested in this house so I cannot bid against her. Can you find out if she actually bid on this house so I am not bidding against her?”
Go explain to this girl that there is not a running list itemizing who bid for which house to allow her the luxury of checking if any of her friends are bidding on or interested in any of the houses she is interested in!
I have come to believe that this is a conundrum unique to an Orthodox area. Where else do you have groups of would-be buyers all looking to buy at the same time, in the same neighborhood, near the same shuls and schools — and all comparing the houses they are looking at with each other in the park on Shabbos?
Years have passed since then. Most, if not all, of those couples in the park have bought homes, and probably most of them have been living here for a long period of time already and are now watching the new young couples coming into the Five Towns looking for the perfect house. They nostalgically think back to the days when they were looking for their first house, and wish them all well.
Today there are other groups of young couples who meet in the parks on Shabbos, wherever they live, and still discuss the different houses available for sale in the Five Towns. Alas, the inventory today is much smaller than it was years ago, so I guess that rather than comparing which house on the market is better, they discuss what houses are available for sale and hope that something new will come on the market soon — or else there will not be enough houses for their friends to be able to move here as well.
They may be right, but somehow, no matter how many new buyers come looking each year for that perfect house, eventually everyone finds a house that works for them, even if it takes more time — and definitely more money — than in years past. Maybe that will be the new Shabbos discussion in the parks — this time in the Five Towns — where all the couples will sit and discuss who had the most difficult time finding a house in the Five Towns!
Anessa Cohen lives in Cedarhurst and is a licensed real-estate broker (Anessa V Cohen Realty) and a licensed N.Y.S. loan officer (FM Home Loans) with over 20 years of experience offering full-service residential, commercial, and management real-estate services as well as mortgage services. She can be reached at 516-569-5007 or via her website, www.AVCrealty.com. Readers are encouraged to send questions or comments to anessa@AVCrealty.com.