Thursday, March 23, 2023

I often sit in on meetings with builders and prospective clients interested in purchasing new construction. Looking over the blueprints, one of my buyers suggested to the builder that by moving a wall here and a wall there he could create walk-in closets for each of her three children. The builder answered that he could surely accommodate this without too much trouble but observed that the usable square footage of closet space would not only be the same with regular closets but might even be bigger. My buyer was emphatic and the reason soon emerged.

“I grew up with a walk-in closet in my bedroom. To this day, I have some of the happiest memories of my childhood playing in that space. It’s where I set up my secret club, hid from anyone who was looking for me and spent endless hours in my ‘ make believe kingdom.’ I want my kids to have that.”

Professional wisdom in real estate often misjudges the varied and sometimes odd way in which a home will connect to a potential buyer. Sure, most people still want updated, tastefully appointed rooms, but there are still the intangibles. The old fashioned three way mirror over the sink in the main bathroom where your kids can stand on a stool and watch themselves talk and make faces like I did in my home in Brooklyn. The dramatic black and white diamond entry floor tiles which always felt like walking into a hotel lobby. And how about the sunken living room at my in law’s sprawling ranch in Monsey where my kids would climb up the wrought iron columns and go over the rail bordering the formal dining room and see who could jump the furthest to the living room below.

Speaking of Monsey, where so many people who now live in Bergen County once resided, it was de rigueur for every home to have a two car garage. Many of our current buyers are satisfied with a one car garage. In the last few years homes have been snatched up with no garage, with buyers commenting that “we would only use it as storage anyway.” My husband, once one of those Monsey boys, insisted we move from our first home on Edgewood Ave to our second home off the Strand mainly for those two spacious garages. He wanted his home to reflect the way he grew up and in that home you parked your car in the garage. In Boro Park where I grew up you were lucky to find a parking spot on the block where you lived. My husband’s car is always parked precisely on his side and after redoing the garage floor with epoxy, my parking spot is a high class play area with a ping pong table for my grandkids.

I laughed while reading a recent review on Tripadvisor apropos of a three star hotel. On the same day, two guests left very opposing reviews… “The staff was really great and the room so clean,” immediately followed by “The staff was so rude and the rooms were so dirty.” How could that be? Maybe just luck? Perhaps it’s all about where each one of the reviewers was coming from. Maybe the happy customer had just left a run down motel and couldn’t be more pleased with their new accommodations. The unhappy customer had probably just checked out of the Ritz Carlton and wished they had never left! In the end, much comes down to perspective.

Nechama Polak is the broker of record and owner of V and N Group LLC located at 1401 Palisade Ave in Teaneck. [email protected] 201 826 8809.

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