“Mommy, Mommy, look at the maintenance!”

Cover of "Miracle on 34th Street (Special...
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I know this astonishing New York Times piece “When The 13-Year-Old Picks A $14 Million Condo” looks only at a few super-wealthy families and how some of them select apartments and condos in Manhattan, and I know that as such it doesn’t represent how the majority of families look for multifamily dwelling in the remaining 99.9% of the United States.  Even with all that being the case, I can’t help but wonder how it’s possible that an apartment story – or any real estate story — can give me the willies as much as this one did.

It’s one thing to involve your kids in important decisions. It’s perfectly fine to try to inculcate in kids a sense of propriety and shrewdness in making the arrangements that affect them. Taking an interest in the numbers, the locations, the social and economic conditions in which we live is all better done earlier than later in life because forewarned is forearmed.

But it’s something else entirely — something unseemly — when the super-rich hand over the process of finding new Manhattan digs to their kids, creating a kind of internet-fueled churn where brokers email cc: listings data to the teen sons and daughters of buyers.  It’s not that the kids aren’t qualified to compare and contrast the pros and cons of one luxury condo vs. another – in a lot of ways, they are. What boggles the mind is considering at what age it ends.  Twelve?  Ten?  Eight?  What’s the age cutoff where pointing and clicking — and working to close on — eight-figure luxury properties stops being plausible and starts being ludicrous?

Bonnie Hut Yaseen, an associate broker at Fox Residential, is used to the youth vote by now. “I’m seeing this trend where parents are coming in to look at my listings and proudly announcing that it was their son or daughter who found it,” she said. “They’re finding an unexpected resource in their children.”

Of course, there is cinematic precedent for all this. In the 1947 classic “Miracle on 34th Street,” a skeptical little girl will believe in Santa Claus only if he can arrange the acquisition of a house she saw in a magazine listing.

Ms. Yaseen said that in the past children saw their homes-to-be only when it was time for the parents to assign them their bedrooms. “Now, in some cases, the kids are coming on the first visit to an apartment because they want to know if it’s as good in reality as it looked online,” she said. “They’ll sometimes be there with paperwork, with a printout from a website.”

Read the entire story at the New York Times

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