Opinion

Felix Salmon

Whining Rich Person of the Day, NYC Real Estate Edition

By Reuters Staff
March 21, 2009

It’s become something of a running joke that everybody wants a bailout these days. But really:

“That’s a lot of money that we can’t afford to lose,” Dr. Beitler said. “It’s just so unfair that with all the bailouts and other stuff going on there’s no relief for people in our position. And we didn’t do anything wrong — an unfortunate confluence of events is causing us to have this misery.”

The misery of Dr Martin Beitler is a function of the fact that he put a nonrefundable 10% deposit down on a $1.73 million condo in Chelsea, in the expectation that he would be able to get a no-income-check mortgage for $1.557 million when time came to close.

Dr. Beitler, an internist in Manhattan, said he had bought and sold property before and had always qualified for no-income-check mortgages.

And so, rather than accept the $35,000 he’s being offered as a goodwill gesture by the developer, Dr Beitler has filed a lawsuit for the return of his entire deposit — despite the fact that the developer upheld his side of the contract in full.

Every time I come across another one of these stories of rich peoples’ innate sense of entitlement it riles me a little more. Dr Beitler is obviously smart enough to know what a deposit is — but somehow he reckons that a nonrefundable deposit should, in fact, be refundable if and when he can’t get a 10%-down, no-income-check mortgage any more. What’s more, if he doesn’t get his deposit back, he thinks it would be a jolly good idea were US taxpayers to club together to give him back his $173,000 (or more than three times median household income in the US). After all, he did suffer "an unfortunate confluence of events", the poor dear.

I do wonder whether Dr Beitler, who has bought and sold property before — in what was surely a healthy up market — might be willing, in return for $173,000 from taxpayers, to return to those selfsame taxpayers all of the profit he made on flipping property in the past. After all, the "confluence of events" which caused property prices to rise was no more his doing than the confluence of events which caused property prices to fall. But somehow I doubt he sees it that way.

Reprinted from Portfolio.com

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