The New York Times Real Estate Section Is Making Fun of You

Image via screenshot/New York Times.
Image via screenshot/New York Times.

Kendall Huberman doesn’t deserve this.

She seems like a perfectly fine person, if somewhat bland, and certainly lacking in self-awareness. So why does the New York Times care about her boring new condo in her boring new neighborhood? Maybe because the Times is staffed by crypto-Marxists waging a coded class war against New York City’s monied elite, with special scorn reserved for the privileged children of the bi-coastal aristocracy.

This secret campaign (if it exists) (which it does) is waged across the Business, Real Estate, and Style sections, but nowhere is it more apparent than in Joyce Cohen’s column, “The Hunt,” which follows the city’s denizens—usually young, usually white, and usually economically dependent on their families—as they look to move from one expensive neighborhood to another. Last week, Cohen profiled young Ms. Huberman, a graduate student at the Parsons School of Design.


Huberman, you see, had discovered that great contradiction of urban housing: In the long term, it is more expensive to rent than to own, but very few people—especially young people—can afford in the near term not to rent. As an intern and then an assistant at a residential design firm, she was paying $1,800 a month to live in a small two-bedroom apartment on an “insanely loud” block in the East Village. From the Times:

Ms. Huberman, 26, calculated that a $400,000 apartment would cost less per month than she was paying in rent. She preferred to live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where she used to babysit and where friends lived. “I see a lot of live music and go to a lot of bars and restaurants that have a younger vibe,” she said — just what Williamsburg offered.

Many studios in the area, however, were in large condominiums, far above her price range. She decided to find out what $400,000 would buy elsewhere in Brooklyn. “I am a person who can make a lot out of nothing,” she said, though she hoped to avoid the expense of renovating.

Wherever did she find the courage to carry on in the face of such stringent austerity measures?

She knew that her father, who is keenly interested in real estate, would help her with a down payment.

“He thought of it as an investment by way of me,” she said. “Throwing my money away in rent was making me nauseous.”


Likewise! And of course a $400,000 apartment costs less per month than $1,800 in rent—if you are not actually paying the down payment!

After looking at apartments in “unfamiliar neighborhoods” like Crown Heights and Fort Greene (lol), Huberman’s real estate agent suggested that she might qualify for a shareholder-owned Housing Development Fund Corporation co-op.


According to the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, there are about 25,800 HDFC co-ops across some 1,200 buildings in New York City, most of which came into being in the late ‘70s when the city seized decrepit buildings, fixed them up and sold them back to low-income residents with the stipulation that they maintain them as affordable co-ops. They comprise an important part of the city’s affordable housing stock; however, as is so often the case, city policies developed to address housing issues in the blighted 1970s often end up being woefully inadequate in the gilded 2010s.

In any event, Huberman found one that she liked that was within her budget—or her father’s, really.

“It’s great to own,” she said. “It feels kind of adultish and comforting and stabilizing.”


How would she know? (That -ish is doing a lot of work.)

All of this is to say that if you are a layperson, and a reporter from the New York Times Real Estate section calls you to interview you for “The Hunt,” you should immediately hang up, change your number, and move to Los Angeles, because you’re making it worse for everyone else.

She far prefers her new neighborhood to the East Village. “In Williamsburg, none of the buildings are super tall,” she said. “I am not crossing huge avenues all the time.”


Williamsburg has significantly more tall buildings than the East Village. Also: There are not nearly enough photographs in this story. What does $400,000 actually buy you in Williamsburg? We may never know.

Reporter, Special Projects Desk

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fun fact:

a great number of things in life are much less expensive than they seem at first blush, if someone else underwrites the expense.