Thursday, July 12, 2007

Mattresses and Parking Spaces

Anyone wonder why more New Yorkers don't have cars? Check this out in today's NY Times:

For Parking Space, the Price Is Right at $225,000

Parking in new developments is selling for twice what it was five years ago, said Jonathan Miller, an appraiser and president of Miller Samuel [and one of my favorite bloggers].

Although spaces in prime sections of Manhattan are the most expensive, even those in open lots and in garages in Brooklyn, Queens, Riverdale and Harlem are close to $50,000, although at least one new Brooklyn development is asking $125,000.

Scarcity figures big in the escalating prices. Mr. Miller estimated that less than 1 percent of all co-op and condominium buildings in the city have private garages. The city also limits how much parking new buildings below 96th Street can offer, requiring that no more than 20 percent of the units have spaces.

“It’s a fairly rare amenity,” Mr. Miller said. “And in the world of pet spas and on-site sommeliers, it’s actually a pretty functional amenity.”

In other densely packed cities where space and parking are at premium, parking spaces in condos also tend to trade at high prices. In Boston, they can sell for as much as $175,000, and they go for as much as $75,000 in Chicago. But in other cities, like Los Angeles and Dallas, most condos include parking in their prices.

For developers in New York, parking is the highest and best use for below-grade space and fetches about the same price per square foot as actual living space, which costs much more to develop. According to Miller Samuel, the average parking space costs $165,019, or $1,100 per square foot, close to the average apartment price of $1,107 per square foot. Those are averages, of course. A $200,000 parking space is about $1,333 per square foot.

That is more than twice as much per square foot as I paid for my apartment.

Now, for more outrageous ways to spend your money:

The Money’s in the Mattress

All spring and summer, Hastens has been running an ad in magazines like Elle Decor: a photograph of the blue-and-white-checked Vividus bed topped with a puffy white down comforter, one corner pulled back invitingly, with a pair of sharp-toed stiletto shoes on the floor beside it. The come-on reads: “Who would spend $59,750 on a bed?”

Who indeed? And what is the calculus — economic or otherwise — that brings a mattress to that particular figure? Or to $24,000, in Magniflex’s case? Or $50,000, which is the sticker price of a bed being made by Hollandia, an Israeli company that opened a showroom in the Marketplace Design Center in Philadelphia last fall and a flagship store in the Mall at Short Hills, N.J., last Thursday. I mean, what the heck? Why would anybody pay that much for a mattress?

“What did that guy say when he was asked why he climbed Mount Everest?” said Pamela N. Danziger, a marketing consultant and the author of “Let Them Eat Cake: Marketing Luxury to the Masses — as Well as the Classes” and “Why People Buy Things They Don’t Need.”

“ ‘Because it’s there!’ ” she exclaimed. “I would be very interested in how many they sell at that price. I would suggest the price is more of a positioning tool, though it is true that there are a lot of rich folks. Those making over $250,000 a year are the fastest-growing households by income in the country. We know that from our survey.” (Ms. Danziger’s company, Unity Marketing, tracks the luxury market in an annual survey of the spending habits and behaviors of affluent Americans.)

I kept noticing those Hastens ads while I was shopping for my mattress, for which I ended up paying about $700. I didn't realize there were so many other mattress brands breaking the $10,000 barrier and making the $6,299 Tempur-Pedic seem like some grungy remnant from the clearance pile at Bradlee's.

I just think it is sad, and somehow wrong that people are falling all over themselves trying to think up crazy new ways to get rich people to spend all this extra money that they think they have no better use for. We all make choices every day to prioritize our own comfort over that of people less fortunate than us: I don't give every spare penny I have to charity and I don't know anyone who does. We all find ways to morally justify our actions and when we start judging others we're just as likely to fail our own tests under scrutiny. But personally, in the world we live in, I just could not sleep easily in a $50,000 bed.


mapgirl said...

"Making the $6,299 Tempur-Pedic seem like some grungy remnant from the clearance pile at Bradlee's."

LOL! I remember Bradlee's in Philly from when I was kid.

T'Pol said...

I totally agree with you. It is just downright stupid to throw away money just because you have it.

I would not spend more than a 1000 dollars on a mattress. These things are supposed to last about 10 years, so, less than a 1000 dollars is quite justifiable. As for your remarks about helping the less fortunate, here is what I do: I budget the money to donate to charity. I plan how much I will save in a month and how much I will donate to charity. As soon as my salary is transferred to my bank account, I wire transfer the charity money to the appropriate institution and deposit the saving portion in my savings account. Then I use the rest of the money as I need to.

SavingDiva said...

I went matress shopping with my parents a few months ago. They ended up spending about $2000, which I thought was a crazy amount of money (but I understand they're older and have back and other issues). I can't imagine speding 50k on a bed...jeez! I do kinda want to try one out...just to see what it's like.

I can't imagine spending as much for a parking space as I did for my apartment. Wow! The good old midwest town that I live in doesn't have any serioud parking issues....You can probably get a parking spot smack down town for about $50-$100/month.

FB @ said...

Keeping up with the Joneses is an expensive habit because they're in massive debt too :P It's easier to earn more money in North America than it is to accumulate true wealth

jo-less said...

We spent £5k on our bed (not just mattress but the springbase too) and it was so worth it. Everynight we agree how comfortable it is. That said, I was amazed how much it was at the time, and would never pay much more...but I would buy the same again!