Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lady Gaga, no silly, GoCaGa!

Every once in awhile, I get a huge laugh out of some truly funny sales and marketing tactics that I see thrown around, especially in New York.

For a little background about me, I went to college a little less than a year after 9/11. I ventured upstate to Syracuse University, moving away from the city I've always called home and loved. It was probably one of the best things I've ever did for myself.

But as it turned out, in the four years I went to school (from 2002 through 2006), a transformation had occurred here in New York. Fueled by Wall Street, a national housing boom, and Sex and the City, NYC became the place to live if you were in your 20s and 30s and looking to sip lattes in a gentrified coffee shop with "the nouveau youth" (yes, you could call them... hipsters).

By 2006 when I graduated college, I earned a well-to-do job and decided it was time to finally enter the NYC housing market. Boy did I have sticker shock. I settled on renting in Park Slope, a place I was familiar with, after looking at the 2006 hot-spot neighborhood of the year, Astoria.

The least expensive apartment I was able to find in the Slope was a one bedroom (which we converted to a two bedroom with a curtain and some makeshift accommodations), in a building that maybe a decade years earlier was an abandoned crack house. Our landlord was so cheap, he refused to turn the hallway lights on during the day (yes, that cheap despite our premium rent).

We were probably paying double what the place was worth, but how could we not? It was the peak of the boom, and heck, if you didn't have your checkbook out, someone else did. Yes, even on an abandoned old crack house on a questionable Park Slope block.

It's that market hysteria of "sign now, worry latter" that gave Brooklyn abandoned half-built buildings, and perhaps the funniest marketing connotation of them all: new neighborhood names.

Priced out of Williamsburg? Try "East Williamsburg!" Can't find a place in Park Slope? Try "SunSlope!" Want to live near the potential superfund site, the Gowanus Canal? Call it "GoCaGa!"

This all makes me laugh, albeit in a sad way because in reality these names are total bullshit. I hate to be "the typical native" but I cringe a little when a newbie to NYC tells me they've found this great place in SunSlope or GoCaGa. While the name may sound cool, you've been totally owned and most likely ripped off.

Although it may be hard for me to reach all the new residents of this great city, please beware -- next time a broker tries to tell you to meet them at this fantastic new apartment in BoCoCa for $2900 a month plus four months of deposit, tell them you've got a bridge to sell 'em.

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