D’ya think the Times seeks real estate ads?

When I finally found time to leaf through the New York Times Sunday magazine the other day, I came across a two-page spread headlined “What you get for $700,000.”

(Times photo)

Interesting, thought I. The contrast between the 550-sf studio in Greenwich Village and the 4,800-sf four-bath house in Columbia, S.C. for the same $699,000 price was not a little intriguing, even to my jaundiced eyes.

Of course, as we all understand, you get more than a studio apartment living in New York City than you do in four-bedroom house in Columbia–well, if not more, at least different.  I get it, I gave up my real estate business and all that Washington, D.C. has to offer–you know, the cherry blossoms, class divide, a surfeit of laywer and, yes, my house with terrace, deck and aggressive wisteria–to return “home” to Manhattan.

I’ve never regretted that move, though now my home does not come with an apartment with rent that covers my mortgage.

In any case, I kept flipping along and then saw a lushly photographed piece called “Starter Castles.” Photographed by Harf Zimmermann across Europe, the portfolio wittily refers to “handcrafted masonry, lots of bedrooms, priced to move, needs plumbing.”

Fun to fantasize, knowing, however, that I haven’t in more than four years been able to get the cold water in my kitchen to run cold until it was finished tormenting me with a stream of warm water for a minute or two, depending on its mood. You don’t want to know my own mood when I’m shriveling from thirst.

As I continued to read, I dimly began to realize that there was a theme to the magazine. Only a reader even more compulsive than me would have noticed in the newly fractured contents pages that the weekly contained “a mini-magazine about real estate.” Guess why it’s “mini.”

Thus enlightened, I read on: The difficulty of removing cracked bathroom-floor tile (to be linked in my Weekly Roundup on Friday) and a long story on architect Robert Scarano and his Brooklyn projects. Stretching it, the Times also chronicles the vision of retired New York City detective Greg O’Connell, who is said to have inspired development of the Red Hook waterfront and to be trying for a similar outcome in Mount Morris upstate.

All well and good. The Times is entitled to make money through advertising–as it reminded readers in the last few days following the long -awaited announcement of its Internet payment plan. And it has to balance the goals of its advertisers with the interests of its readers. In fact, I counted 18 pages of real estate advertising in the magazine, 13 of them a so-called special section produced outside the Times’ hierarchy.

I don’t blame the newspaper of record for its pandering. It’s just that I felt the approach was sneaky.

Even more bothersome to me was a page seemingly promoting pistols–guns–that are “flashier, more feminine and easier to pop into a purse.”

What are we readers to make of that in this day and age?

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Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201

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