The H Word

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Eve Levine has taken some heat for the title of her real estate seminars, and for good reason: Homebuying for Hipsters just begs to be mocked on blogs.

“I caught a lot flack for the name … but what was I going to call it? Downpayments for Douchebags?”

cond1.jpgThe fact is, it works. “As much as people love to make fun of the name, it does bring them through the door.” Her info sessions, which began last year, draw a solid mix of 20- to 40-year-olds, all dying to know the answers to basic questions like How, if you don’t have a trust fund, generous parents, or a partner in finance, can you afford to buy in New York? (Long answer: Move to a less desirable nabe for cheap rent till you can afford a small apartment in an affordable hood, then trade up. Short answer: Save every penny.)

“I had a few friends who bought and said the process was terrible and really confusing.” So Levine, a 33-year-old Corcoran agent in Greenpoint, decided to make it more transparent by teaming up with a mortgage broker and real estate lawyer to answer everything you wanted to know about buying. “This happens every day, every week, every month in New York, so why should it be a big mystery?”

There is some self-interest involved: Levine would like to clear up her profession’s rap, for one. “I know the public thinks we’re all shady bastards, but we also need to make deals.” Contrary to popular opinion, for instance, even if a broker is being paid by the seller, it’s in the agent’s best interest to negotiate a better price for the buyer. “If it creates a loyal customer for life, why would I risk that for the sake of putting another $1500 in my pocket?”

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Levine would also like to buy a home herself — and providing expert advice to prospective buyers is a genius way to find clients.

“I’m hoping I can buy in the next 12 months, but I’m a freelance worker so my income comes in chunks. That’s why I feel like I’m qualified to talk to these people because I’m talking about me. I’ve had 10 jobs in 10 years” — including a chef stint at the Spotted Pig.

In other words, she knows the challenges of trying to buy without a W2 job, particularly in light of the subprime mortgage fallout, which she knows will be a hot topic tomorrow night at her one-year anniversary seminar. But despite the higher mortgage rates (which really only apply to loans over $417,000) if you want to buy, Levine believes there is way. “You can complain all you want that New York is too expensive — and that’s true — but do you want to buy? Really the title for my class should be ‘Homebuying for People Who Want To.’ “

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