The Landlord Class

Lookie here.

We’ve got a problem.

Say you want to open a business in El Paso. Maybe it’s a bar, or a restaurant, or some retail. Maybe you want to sell jewelry made from fossilized dinosaur feces. Maybe tattoos. Maybe chinchilla hand warmers.

Unless you’re going door to door, you’re going to need a storefront.

(Mental note: Business Opportunity! Selling margaritas door to door!)

No problem, right? There are lots of vacant storefronts.

And in a free market, that translates to low rents.

Except that in El Paso, a handful of landlords control a lot of properties.

Like Mimco’s Troy Walker said in this interview in the El Paso Inc., “El Paso has a strange dynamic, probably more so than any other cities of this size, in that there are very few property owners and they don’t sell. So you have long-term holders and very few transactions.”

Like that guy that bought all those bitchin’ buildings downtown.

El Paso has a landlord class. And they control the rents. And there’s no incentive for them to lower rents, or sell properties, because they can wait till America is great again.

They’re not using that rent money to eat, or drink, or buy fossilized dinosaur feces. They’re way past that. They’ve got all the fossilized dinosaur feces they want.

(So do I, come to think of it.)

If all their tenants went bankrupt tomorrow, our landlord overlords (landoverlords? overlandlords?) wouldn’t feel it till 2025, because they’re all fat and sassy from years, sometimes generations, of good living.

When business is good, those landlords are your partner. And when business is bad, those landlords still want their rent.

(Those commercial property owners are selling dreams, and it’s an easy sell, because those commercial property owners are selling you your dreams.

“You wanna sell fossilized dinosaur feces? That’s a great idea!”)

And obviously our landlord class performs a wonderful service for the people of El Paso, and I don’t begrudge them one thin dime, but cheaper rents might induce more entrepreneurs to enter the fray, and encourage economic development, which would be good for the landlords in the long run.

And to all the landlords out there, sahtak bil dini.

One comment

  1. I think this issue comes down to what one person thinks is reasonable rent vs what another person thinks. In some areas of El Paso commercial rents are stupidly ridiculous. In others they seem very reasonable. That is probably the same everywhere in the world. For example, in downtown you can get office space fairly reasonably. But why would anyone want an office downtown? Parking is an issue (I get a ticket about 70% of the time I go downtown, so I don’t go downtown unless I have to), it’s nasty and hard to navigate during the week. F*ck downtown office space. It seems like the only people who like downtown space make money from the government, like those incubator offices for “entrepreneurs” to share and people with city contracts. And the justice system, municipal, county and federal. That’s the real racket. Poor people pay for their crimes, politicians cripple the public with debt then sell their house to the mayor and leave town.

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