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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Why is Real Estate So Complicated?

In trying to figure out where we will live, we have been taking a world tour of properties. If you think the experience of buying a house is a bad one, just try it in a dozen countries.

Real estate is a curious business. It defies much conventional wisdom. For example, why is it that real estate only becomes more complicated in cities that appear to have the highest volumes of transactions? Would it not be reasonable to expect the transactions to become more efficient? What perversion in human nature seems to push the statistical tendencies towards inefficiency, opacity, and a general all-around unpleasant experience? There is no monopoly organization that forces exclusive terms yet there are monopolistic rules that govern transactions and appear to set customer service standards far south of reason.

I have just purchased a place in Manhattan. I am in the process of closing a place in London. And I recently had a transaction in a major city in Asia, one that shows up in the top five most expensive real estate locales in the world. I commonly hear complaints about the prices, but the process is even worse.

I actually don’t mind paying a lot of money for a place I will enjoy. Color me strange for expecting that the process of parting with large sums of money would be made into a somewhat enjoyable experience. Yet the process is primitive, inefficient, maddening, and, to add insult to injury, also expensive!

There is nothing pleasant about it, and much to vehemently dislike.

Now I get to look forward to the remodeling and decorating experiences. I am already told that the businesses involved there are even less rational than the real estate businesses. What joy.

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