Brokers, Mortgages, Detritus.

I love it when I get a chance to use the word detritus.

I’m catching up on my reading – mainly NY Times articles people send to me, and while in the midst of this first article, I notice what my Onion calendar has up for today. I’ll share that later.

The other thing is that yesterday, I set up a blog for my friend, Ellen Davis, a mortgage broker.


You should check out the blog, though. If you have any questions about mortgages, refinancing, or just the entire process, send her an email – and she’ll answer it on the blog. We’re hoping for it to be an interactive blog, and a way to not only educate people about the process, but also to make them more comfortable and savvy with it.

Anyway, the name of the blog (for now) is Own Your Home (The Art of Smart Mortgaging). I say “for now” because I made up the name, and she might want to change it. LOL!

It’s in the early stages of development, so participation is encouraged.

Oh yeah. The NYT article and The Onion article:

What Gets Left Behind


Published: May 13, 2007

FOR many people, moving is a deeply taxing combination of high anxiety, brute labor and loose ends. Perhaps that’s why moving on doesn’t always mean completely moving out.

Unwelcome Surprises

Adam Goldstein is an owner of a 244-unit rental building.

Brokers say that much of what is left behind is typical urban-dweller flotsam: half-empty bottles of cleaning fluid, dented cans of touch-up paint, extra tiles, itinerant dust bunnies, a ragged row of condiments and the odd piece of discarded furniture.

But this being New York City, some departing residents — dazed with exhaustion and dizzied by distraction — leave more unusual forget-me-nots.

“The apartment is supposed to be empty and in broom-clean condition, but people leave all sorts of stuff,” said Dan Berman, an executive vice president at Bellmarc Realty, who estimated that about a quarter of apartments-in-transition are neither empty nor broom-clean. He has stumbled across stacks of newspapers, crumpled underwear, cupfuls of keys and (once) a shrunken head dangling from a string in the bedroom.

Renters tend to make the most disorderly exits.

“We find a lot of handcuffs, always under the sink,” said Adam Goldstein, an owner of a 244-unit prewar rental building on West 72nd Street near Central Park where the tenant population skews toward single young professionals. “A lot of people take their toothbrush and toothpaste from the top and forget about what they have underneath.”

More common than handcuffs are abandoned air-conditioners and window blinds. But Mr. Goldstein’s most unsettling find to date was the castoff grenade perched on an evicted musician’s countertop. “We called the fire department,” said Mr. Goldstein, who also discovered that the tenant had ripped out much of the kitchen, painted the apartment black and installed a recording studio.

Most of his newly vacated apartments merely look as if a grenade had exploded inside, Mr. Goldstein said.

“I go into the apartment before they move, and I see how they live — cleanly,” said Mr. Goldstein, who is also a managing director of Citi Habitats.

After tenants move out, it’s a different story. “Their bathrooms are just disgusting,” he said. “The toilets have three rings, and the bathtubs are black. The only thing I can think of is when they’re leaving, that last month, no one does anything because they’re so focused on where they’re going.”

If the cleanup can be handled by a superintendent or other foot soldier already on the payroll, landlords often turn a blind (if not incurious) eye toward grime and disarray, treating it as the normal course of business rather than an excuse to hold on to a renter’s security deposit.

For their part, superintendents stuck on the front lines are usually free to keep left-behind television sets and other items whose value to a departing tenant was overshadowed by the bother of trying to sell or give them away.

Sellers who view cleaning up after themselves as a quaint imperative court stiffer consequences. If their tracks aren’t covered by a broker (some scramble to tip a super or hire a cleaning crew to straighten up), messy sellers may have to put money into escrow to cover the cost of cleaning and removal or even the replastering of ungainly holes. Amounts can range from $150 for a basic cleaning to the low four figures for aggravated untidiness. Still, not all leftovers are unwelcome.

One buyer of a $1.9 million TriBeCa loft discovered that the seller had left for Canada to be married without taking a 42-inch Gateway high-definition television set and a Bose 10-speaker surround-sound system. He had also left handwritten operating instructions, a bottle of wine, a brand new microwave oven and a closet full of toilet paper.

The buyer, a single man working in financial services, welcomed the bounty with enthusiasm, said his agent, Jeffrey Brown of Warburg Realty.

Another downtown bachelor sold his $2 million apartment but neglected to remove a three-foot-high stack of adult magazines and a shelf full of flavored body oils, said Stephen S. Perlo, a senior vice president of the Corcoran Group, who added: “I assured my client all this would be taken out, of course. And he said, ‘Oh, no, I love this — I have to replenish my supply.’ His eyes kind of lit up at everything that was there.”


Mr. Perlo was similarly surprised during a walk-through of a $3 million Upper East Side prewar two-bedroom a year and a half ago. In a medicine cabinet in the otherwise spotless apartment, his client, a young woman, discovered a pair of false teeth and some medicine belonging to the elderly deceased former owner.

“I said, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to get rid of all this,’ ” Mr. Perlo recalled. “And she said, ‘Yes, but the Valium you can leave.’ ” Mr. Perlo demurred, to which his client responded, “ ‘You’re a full-service broker, aren’t you?’ ” (Mr. Perlo won’t say how the discussion ended.)


Brokers say it is sometimes possible to predict who will be a sloppy seller.

“The buttoned-up ones who pack a month before they have to move tend to be the most pristine,” said Margaret Heffernan, a vice president at Corcoran.

But even the fastidious can overlook an item or two in the rush to the freight elevator. Ms. Heffernan recalled a conservative 30-ish woman who sold a prewar one-bedroom in Brooklyn. After the closing, Ms. Heffernan’s client happened across a whip stashed on the top shelf of the bedroom closet.

“We didn’t think it was a memento of her equestrian youth,” Ms. Heffernan said. “And it’s not the sort of thing where you can call and ask, ‘Do you want it back?’ ””

Click the article title to read it all.

And now, for the Onion calendar entry for today:

“Papal Apartments Found Filled With Old Newspapers, Empty Pill Bottles, Mangy Cats

April 13, 2005 | Issue 41•15

VATICAN CITY—Housekeeping staff at the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, the official papal residence, were shocked to discover stacks of yellowing newspapers, empty medication bottles, and at least two dozen cats in Pope John Paul II’s private apartments this weekend. “We had a very hard time opening the door, and when we finally forced it open, we couldn’t believe what we found,” maid Giulietta Barricelli said. “Mangy, mewing cats perched atop stacks of newspapers dating back nearly 25 years, plates caked with mold, balled-up Kleenexes everywhere, and cat feces on the carpet. I don’t know how the Holy Father, God rest his soul, lived in that horrible, stinking mess.” Papal historians claim that some popes develop aberrant pack-rat tendencies late in life, citing Pope Pius XII, who hoarded tin foil and back issues of Catholic Digest.”


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