Some folks got “excited” because the (app company) Uber opened up an office on Washington Street in Hoboken, NJ. I don’t seem to know why.
It’s just an app company!
Apparently this “office space” is some kind of “support center” for Uber drivers.
Like if they have problems with their apps – or “have questions.” Huh? Isn’t that what email and phones are for? Why have a physical office to support what is an online venture anyway? Sounds stupid – and they’re probably blowing through “startup cash” because of it.
Yeah, it sounds a bit critical – but we’re not against the app-company, really. (Although I really think “apps” may be the eventual downfall of society.)
What we don’t favor these days are “regulations,” and such which are the focal point of the “controversy” surrounding these for-hire drivers (including taxis.)
It’s too bad both sides of this polarizing debate don’t realize that, as they argue fruitlessly while “TPTB” laugh on their way to the bank. Oh well again!
Food for thought on a Tuesday. Found this amazing color footage of the aftermath of World War II over in Germany. Crazy destruction.
Mile after mile of residential buildings literally gutted (walls still standing – they don’t build them like that these days). You ever wonder how “war” between countries have to involve the killing of innocent civilians who had nothing to do with any kind of threat? Those God-damn politicians, I tell ya.
But what struck me as amazing was the amount of calmness and cooperation amongst the “survivors.” (And no one taking “selfies” in front of the rubble).
This would not happen in America
Remember Katrina? The looting? The nonsensical riots in Baltimore?
A few months ago – Redfin (a Realty company) “arrived” in New Jersey.
In a nutshell (from what we gathered), Redfin is an “agency” that claims to use cutting-edge technology – in conjunction with razor-thin commissions for both buyers and sellers (1.5% or less). The “de facto” standard in the Real Estate industry for eons was in the neighborhood of 5-6%.
Read more about Redfin below – and find out when Redfin New Jersey’s “launch party” in Hoboken this Wednesday, May 20th over at Teak (as well as hear our initial thoughts about this new “trend.”)
What is Redfin exactly?
“Redfin has arrived in the Garden State, serving homebuyers and sellers from Cape May to Morristown and along the shoreline to South New Jersey. People can now work with local Redfin agents to buy and sell homes in New Jersey and can use the Redfin online and mobile tools to search homes on the market.
Redfin combines superior service and cutting-edge technology to revolutionize the home-buying and selling process. Our technology empowers both our agents and customers with information and tools that make buying and selling a home more efficient, less stressful and more fun.
Redfin real estate agents focus solely on delivering top-notch service while helping clients buy or sell homes. This efficiency, powered by the best in technology, also enables Redfin to pass savings on to our clients. Someone who buys a $500,000 home with a Redfin agent in New Jersey would receive a refund of over $5,000 at closing. Instead of the typical 2.5-3 percent commission, Redfin charges sellers a 1.5 percent fee. This means someone selling a $500,000 home with a Redfin agent would save between $5,000 and $7,500.”
Redfin NJ Launch Party in Hoboken
Celebrate the arrival of Redfin at our launch party in Hoboken. Enjoy drinks and appetizers at Teak on the Hudson while you mingle with Redfin Agents and other local real estate professionals and learn all about buying and selling with Redfin.
Or a better question is “what does all this mean?” –
For one, we’re fans of capitalism. You know, supply, demand, market prices and so on. What we’re not fans of is market manipulation, monopoly and price-fixing.
Were Realtor commissions way too high for way too long? I don’t know that answer. They always had a relatively fixed rate – and often did the same amount of work selling (someone else’s) multi-million dollar property than they did selling (someone else’s) $250k property. That fact alone, I probably wouldn’t think it’s right (unless I was one of those “platinum” agents).
Another thing – it’s sort of like how it is in many “industries” (like art, music) – you kind of have to “pay your dues” to work up the ladder. Newbies never get a shot at the “big time.”
Is Real Estate a monopoly of sorts?
You ever think about why there are such odd things such as the “MLS?” Especially in today’s information age?
Why are so few people “FSBO” (for sale by owner?) I think it’s around 10% or so. Why can’t everyone sell their property that way? Is it too much work? Does the Realtor honestly EARN a five-figure paycheck each time they schlep to properties to “give a tour?” Could anyone be an “agent?”
Taking a big-picture look at this whole industry leads one to believe that something is not right. We shouldn’t be left with a short-list of places to trade property. Or be inundated with regulations and other complicated conditions (what boils down to “minutiae in order to control others.”)
Now what Redfin appears to be doing is trying to go National – getting a “cut” from a very broad scope of transactions. Does that equate to the “Walmart” of Real Estate? Walmart has countless stores and make less per transaction than other places, but they also pay their people less and make up for it in SHEER VOLUME. Cui Bono in this case? Someone at Redfin will be getting very rich. Not their agents, that’s for sure.
We’ve spoken with those in favor of traditional Realtors – who say they’re indispensable BECAUSE of the overly-complicated nature of a Real Estate transaction (read: zoning laws, liability, encumbrances, titles, taxes, occupancy certificates and more). Perhaps that is accurate. But you’d have to dig deeper into the “system” to find out why simple property ownership needs to be so complex.
Are we against Redfin? Not particularly. Real Estate is an odd industry for sure. And I still can’t get over how or why any “agent” needs to be involved with a simple exchange of property. Sure, it’s more than just buying a car – but it does not have to be complicated. Let’s remove those complications – and try to streamline how property is exchanged.
(But we still think “agents” of some degree will always be around – as long as the complex nature of Real Estate exists. Because some folks don’t want to become educated, nor do they want to make the time. Oh well!)
Here’s a video from Redfin if you want to see how they’re marketing themselves:
For the birds: Are public bird feeders health violations in Hoboken?
Public parks in Hoboken have signs that warn wildlife-lovers that they could be $1000 poorer if they “feed the birds.” City ordinance prohibits “placing of food for animal consumption in ANY public place.”
But some resident on Bloomfield Street has several feeders “for the birds.” Right on the sidewalk. Where people walk. Sometimes with their baby-strollers! OMG!
If the fines are applicable at city parks, then I’d assume this person might end up paying to enjoy their bird-watching.
We think this is awesome – and is the best way to eat foods naturally.
While this sounds great on paper – be reminded that just because something is “labeled” one way or another – how can you ever be 100% certain?
Same goes with stuff labeled “organic.” I’ve read stories where some businesses, after getting “certified” organic, began sneaking in the bad stuff afterward. Some folks get caught, but can they be monitored 100% of the time? I don’t think so. Those “labels” make everyone drop their guard, but I’m still a bit suspicious. Because where there is a opportunity for corruption… you can bet someone is dying to take advantage of it.
The only way to know for sure is to grow your own!
Just a little update here. I’m still quite amazed at how you can “gamble” with the NJ Lottery practically everywhere now. They’re pulling out all the stops. Supermarkets. Convenience stores. No shortage of places to spend your money.
And it’s not even just scratch-offs anymore. You can play the “numbers games” at some of the more advanced kiosks now too!
The sad thing is – that each and every time I run into one of these machines – someone is depositing money in them. But the state doesn’t care if they make it easy for problem gamblers – because they “did their part” by putting the 1-800-Gambler hotline on the back of each ticket. Responsibility no more!