A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York.

By Nina Pajak

After a blissful two years in a very lovely apartment I found through JWB Rental Homes, we find ourselves in need of some extra space and perhaps a few more conveniences. Between the impending baby and the dog, we’ll soon be full up on helpless dependents and realize that our lifestyle could, perhaps, use some tweaking.

And so, I again delve into the depths of online rental listings, and have so far mostly come up with a) nothing and b) a whole lotta rage. And how do I channel that rage? With an open letter to every broker who has ever wronged me, knowingly or not. And by me, I mean all of us.

To Whom It May Concern:

Why? Why must you use us so abominably ill?

Why do I want to look at pictures which are posted sideways, taken with a fisheye lens and semi-obscured in darkness? Or a single photo of a wall with a window and a radiator? Or worse, a picture of a Starbucks which is ostensibly nearby? Hoping to pique my interest without giving away how truly destitute the apartment is? Well, you got me, all right.

And who gave you the impression that I want to read descriptions which are written IN ALL CAPS LIKE THIS!!!!!!!! oR wORse, LiKe ThIS?!?!?!?!?

Do you think that by adding manic excitement to the listing, clients will not be able to help themselves but get swept up in it? Are you marketing to the 15-year-old girls you attempt to meet in AOL chat rooms?

I’m sorry, perhaps that was over the line. But this is how far you have driven me with your careless treatment. Whichever consultancy is giving you this advice, I’d highly recommend you fire. Save the money. Write in conventional English, it’s much easier to read.

What do you think “sun-drenched” really means to me? Or gut-reno, or cozy, or  PRIME!!!! or I mean, really think about it. I’d like thoughtful answers, please.

It’s possible we’re just particularly skeptical, but don’t you think we can tell that you’ve posted four different photos from at least three obviously different apartments? Ten bucks says no human being ever lays eyes on the rooms you’ve illustrated in that listing.

I know all about the bait and switch. But what makes you think we will remain your captive audience once you have broken our trust within the first 30 seconds of meeting? It’s a risky game you’re playing.

And what exactly is your strategy when it comes to listing the same apartment forty times in a row, which also happens to be the same apartment forty other brokers are listing forty times in a row, each of you making slightly different promises and offering slightly different pictures? I’m curious.

The thing that gives me pause here is that these tactics are practiced with remarkable consistency across the profession. This leads me to several conclusions:

1. You are all truly as heinously unethical and monkey-brained as you appear to be.
2. Someone is giving you universal and terrible advice.
3. These strategies actually lead to some success.

While I’m not convinced 1 and 2 are entirely wrong, I have a sinking suspicion that 3 is more on the right track. And while some of this can be attributed to a rental market that is always extraordinarily competitive and clients who are frequently desperate, it’s still horribly depressing to consider.

Just once (at least), I’d like to be happily surprised. I’d like to come across someone with a modicum of integrity and honesty. You want to show me a piece of sh** apartment? Okay, if you tell me up front it’s a piece of sh** but that there’s a reason you think I should see it, I’ll see it! You see how that works? Convince me you’re not just a greedy, manipulative liar. Give it to me straight, and perhaps I will believe you when you tell me this is a good price, or that apartment won’t last long.

Sadly, I suddenly find myself truly in need of you for the first time ever, and I am gritting my teeth for every moment of this experience. Please, please prove me wrong. Or at least bring me a cookie or a coffee when we meet. Any little crumb of humanity, I will lap it up like a pathetic, love-starved beast.


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