I just returned from my semi-annual pilgrimage to the Inman News Real Estate Connect conference. Defying logic and laughing in the face of all that is good and decent, the event planners decided years ago that the January installment should be held in New York City. And each year I am reminded why New York is the “City that never sleeps.” That’s because they have to keep moving lest they freeze to death.
Truthfully, this year I lucked out, as they were having a bit of a warm front. I generally enjoyed balmy 40-degree weather. And it’s a good thing, because I was pulling double duty. Not only was I there to do a little panel moderating and to keep abreast of the latest business and technology trends in real estate – all within the warm confines of the conference venue – but I was also the advance party for my daughter’s own Manhattan Project.
My oldest daughter relocated to the big city yesterday, one day after I returned, for an editorial gig at New York Magazine. Through luck of timing, I was charged with leading the reconnaissance mission to meet the new roommate and attend to a few last minute details. Let me tell you that nothing says fun like hauling an end table five blocks through Chelsea in casual business attire and four inch heels.
First let me say on a minor real estate note that, despite the warnings, you really can use Craigslist to find rentals. But you have to do your homework. Trust no one.
Her new home was in fact secured from a Craigslist ad, site unseen, and she did send money in advance. This, however, occurred after a joint forensic investigation of the neighborhood, the property and (most importantly) the landlord that left us knowing more about this poor, unsuspecting coop owner than she knows about herself.
Thanks to the power of the search box, we knew how old she was, where she was born, where her parents live, her familial status, employment history, and even the fact that she contributed $200 in 1993 to the Bush-Cheney campaign. (Admittedly, this last one might have been a deal breaker for some, but if you really need a place to live, you must be willing make some compromises.)
The point is this. Whether you are looking for a rental or a home to purchase, you have nearly unlimited resources at your fingertips which will allow you be entirely informed. From property details to neighborhood culture — and, yes, the profile of the guy who might be sitting at the other side of the negotiating table — you owe it to yourself to do your homework.
It was interesting, then, that I was introduced to a snappy little neighborhood profile site, PicketReport.com. It’s a tradition at Inman to feature a handful of start-up companies in the real estate space – as they call them, “New Kids on the Block.” I love this site. The screen shot above shows their neighborhood information for Scripps Ranch.
It’s in Beta, which means there are still some glitches. For instance, if you are familiar with Scripps Ranch, you will note that the Middle School that was relocated several years ago is still plotted in its former location, as is the elementary school that took over their lease. Oh, and then there is the lifestyle profile for my 92131 Zip code that, apparently, consists of “flourishing families.” Flourishing families are defined as “affluent, middle-aged families and couples earning prosperous incomes and living very comfortable, active lifestyles.”
I am relatively comfortable, writing this in my jeans and sneakers, and I do happen to fall into the “families and couples” category. The prosperous, active and middle-aged parts, however, are subject to some serious debate.
I sure wish I had known about this site prior to moving my daughter to Chelsea. By comparison, I now know that these are my daughter’s people:
Power Elite: The wealthiest households in the US, living in the most exclusive neighborhoods, and enjoying all that life has to offer.
And as I glance at my account balances, I suddenly know this to be true. I think PicketReport.com can safely drop the “Beta” now.