It’s No Secret: Sellers Prefer Cash

OK…I’m back ready to wax eloqouently about the real estate market yet again.
Is anyone out there willing to give me a good haircut, some acupuncture, or perhaps a gourmet meal for my advice? You laugh, but that’s the kind of deal Stephanie Rosenbloom is talking in about in The New York Times.

In a time when half a million dollars barely buys a studio in New York, Mr. Schiller is hoping to trade a watercolor drawing by his longtime friend Maurice Sendak, perhaps best known for his children’s book “Where the Wild Things Are,” for an apartment.
Mr. Schiller’s approach is unusual, but in a time of continuing high prices, it could become more common. There are a number of enterprising apartment hunters for whom cash is not necessarily king. Brokers in Manhattan say they are encountering people who will swap a variety of goods and services in their quest to buy or rent, offering up everything from artwork to acupuncture.

(By the way, the article also points out that Mr. Schiller’s broker is not willing to be paid in art.)
My biggest question here is why doesn’t this gentleman sell his artwork for the alleged $650,000 that it’s worth and then buy himself an apartment? I know, he says in the article that he’d rather keep the painting if he can’t find an apartment. But the truth is, with $650,000 cash in hand, he would have his choice of nice one bedrooms (with views!) all over the city. He essentially can’t fail.
Whereas in his current situation, he needs to find that perfect seller who would part with their apartment for a “Wild Things” illustration. I have two small kids, and love “Where the Wild Things Are” as much as the next guy but I assume most people with property in this guy’s price range don’t have the luxury of swapping the biggest asset in our portfolios for a children’s book illustration.
As it is, he essentially needs a miracle–and a good first step in making that miracle happen is to get some of the best exposure in the world with a huge feature article in The New York Times. If this deal fails despite that advantage–it’s clearly a very flawed proposal.
As for bartering in general? I haven’t seen much of it, and if it starts to become more commonplace, I would take that as a strong signal that we have officially entered a buyer’s market.

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