• Amenities: Icing on the real estate cake

    The children's playroom at The Laurel on East 67th Street is an enviable example of the breed...

    We have to admit that we're suckers for some good amenities. I mean a FreshDirect room to hold our groceries until we get home? Yes please. An in-building Wi-Fi connected place to do some work without the sounds of a screaming toddler or the noisiness of Starbucks? Where do we sign up? 

    For this week's SurvivalList, we've turned our attention to amenities -- those little in-building perks that can feel like icing on the real estate cake.

    These include a Virtual Doorman (which can mean security without the exorbitant common charges--or Christmas tips) and FreshDirect vending machines.

    We've also daydreamed about amenties we wish we had (like a stroller service station and technology concierge) and ones we'll probably never have (like one free Saturday babysitting included every month) and can only dream of.

    But not all amenities are as good as they sound, so we've got posts on how to handle amenities gone awry-- like  who's responsible for a storage locker burglary that was the super's fault or what happens when a flood or rats ruin your stuff stored down in the basement. We even have a solution for bike-room overcrowding.

  • Your Celebrity Neighbor, Fashion Week Edition: Tim Gunn


    WHO: As patron saint of emerging fashion designers, when Tim Gunn tells you to make it work, do it or move to fashion Siberia.

    WHERE:  The "Project Runway" mentor and author lives on the Upper West Side, where the median sales price is $899,000 and the median rental price is $3,395, according to StreetEasy.

    Your Celebrity Neighbor is a weekly heads-up on the A-listers who call your neighborhood home and (in theory) shop the same Duane Reade as you.

  • Ms. Demeanor's Sex, Laundry & Vertical Etiquette

    Dear Ms. Demeanor: A question of elevator etiquette

    Dear Ms. Demeanor,

    How long is too long to hold an elevator?  I swear some people in my building jump out and say, "Whoops forgot to shave my legs!  Hold it for me!" and come back 10 minutes later. 

    When is okay to just let the door close and be done with it?

    Holden Vader
    Dear Holden,

    Building elevator etiquette can be tricky because the faces you see outside while the door closes will be faces you see again and again.  

    In the newer elevators, when door beeps because you have been holding it too long (about 30 seconds to one minute), it is time to let it go.  Obviously use your judgement and menschlichkeit if the person has a disability that prevents them from moving more quickly. 

  • What I learned from going home with strangers

    Episode 2 of Take Me Home takes us inside the tricked-out apartment of an UWS banker intercepted while meat shopping.

    Your mom may have warned you never to go home with a stranger, but if you do it in New York City, you just may learn something--about real estate, anyway.

    At least that’s the premise behind a new show on the SPACES YouTube channel called Take Me Home.

    Hostess Arden Myrin (of "Chelsea Lately" and "MadTV" fame) stages herself in a different NYC neighborhood weekly, imploring random strangers to take her back to their apartments. (And I thought that's what Craigslist was for…!)  

    Once inside, Myrin--who comes across like a histrionic Cat Marnell on meth (wait, that’s redundant)--takes viewers on a tour of the willing victim’s apartment pointing out all that is noteworthy. 

    Why, you may ask?

    "Our goal in making the show was to fulfill our voyeuristic need to see inside peoples' homes and satisfy our own curiosity as to whether we could guess the degree to which our personal style — our hair, our clothes, our demeanor – influences how we design our homes. ...it all came together over beers while people-watching in NYC," says Bradley Werner, vp of production and series development for DGB, the digital video company behind the channel.

  • StreetEasy Hot Dozen

    The StreetEasy Hot Dozen: 12 rentals that may or may not be available by the time you read this

    It's too late to rent this $2,500 junior one-bedroom at 165 Christopher Street and Washington Street in the West Village, but that may not be true for the other one-bedrooms in this week's Hot Dozen.

    While many renters turn to studios if they want a space of their own, one-bedrooms are (obviously) even better if you can afford them. This week, three of these command the top of this week's Hot Dozen--the 12 rental apartments Streeteasy.com visitors clicked on most often over the past seven days.

    Take, for example, a one-bedroom apartment at 221 West 28th Street and Seventh Avenue listed at $1,895/month. It's right next to the Fashion Institute of Technology's campus and a short walk to commuter-friendly Penn station. Ample amounts of closet space in the apartment's living room means more storage and less bulky furniture, plus the building is pet-friendly and offers a Virtual Doorman.

    On the Upper West Side, a one-bedroom apartment at 316 West 88th Street and West End Avenue is listed at $2,000/month. The apartment is located on the parlour-level of a brownstone with high ceilings and big windows facing a treelined street. Only cats (no dogs) are allowed in this traditional abode.

    Down in the West Village, a  junior one-bedroom apartment at 165 Christopher Street and Washington Street is listed at $2,500/month. The apartment building boasts its own recreation and laundry facilities, as well as a live-in super. Unfortunately, the apartment is in contract.

  • Ask an Expert

    Ask an Expert: What is an "ongoing" assessment?

    Q. I recently saw a listing for a one-bedroom co-op for sale in a doorman building on the Upper East Side. It lists both a “maintenance charge” of $1,099/month and an “ongoing monthly assessment” of $1,286.

    That adds up to about $2,400, which seems like a lot for a $299,000 one-bedroom, doesn't it? And what is an “ongoing" monthly assessment?  

    A.  You are correct to be curious, say our experts.

    You should start by digging around to see what the assessment is for, and if it is really open-ended (rare) or if there is a termination date or termination upon a scheduled event.

    "An 'ongoing assessment' normally applies to expenses that are issue-specific and scheduled to end once fully funded," says Thomas Usztoke of Douglas Elliman Property Management. In other words, there should be an end date that is "easily discoverable by reivewing the minutes of the co-op and their financial statements."

  • 11 years later, a TriBeCa native longs for a pre-9/11 Lower Manhattan

    A view of the still-under-construction Freedom Tower and the World Financial Center, as seen from Vesey Street and North End Avenue in Battery Park City. 

    I grew up in the Independence Plaza on Greenwich Street in TriBeCa in the 1980s, back when the neighborhood was just called Downtown. Before Whole Foods and certainly before the Goldman Sachs takeover, it was a quiet area of hard working families and artists who enjoyed the sleepy evenings and weekends when the financial set punched out and went home. 

    My view growing up on the 32nd floor was of the Twin Towers. They dominated our window space and were part of our home. I stared at them every morning and every night. If I close my eyes now I can still see the rows of lights stretching to the sky. 

    In March 2000, I moved from my parents’ apartment to a first-floor one-bedroom apartment of my own in a newly constructed building in Battery Park City. I still live in the same place, twelve years later. 

    Downtown Manhattan was thriving back in 2000, especially the World Trade Center: there were concerts by the fountain, the concourse level had good shopping -- J. Crew, Coach, GAP, Cole Haan, Torneau... the restaurants and cafes were jammed during lunch and after work. 

  • StreetEasy Open House Scorecard

    The Open House Scorecard: Get your family-sized apartments with neighborhood conveniences here

    This $985k two-bedroom, 2-bath co-op on the UWS features a renovated kitchen with marble counters and top-notch appliances where you can whip up all the food you pick up at the nearby Fairway and Citarella. 

    If you’re looking for an apartment in which to raise a family, take notes on this edition of the Open House Scorecard. The 10 apartments that StreetEasy users saved to their open-house calendars more often than any others this weekend are located in neighborhoods with lots of conveniences for kids and parents alike.

    In the heart of the Upper West Side is a $985k two-bedroom 2-bath 14th floor co-op with a split bedroom layout. Located on Broadway and West 76th, the building is around the corner from Fairway, Citarella, the Equinox (so you can work off all the calories you’ve been consuming in the nearby eateries) and express train transportation (in 72nd Street). The building itself has a new lobby, laundry on every floor and a live-in super.  Possible caveat: The curtains are pulled closed in every shot, so there could be an issue with the view.

  • Diary of a First-Time Buyer

    Diary of a First-time Buyer: "How did I get here and how do I get out??"

    Wednesday night in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. I’m sitting not at a hip bistro but in a fluorescent-lit basement room at the head of a U-shaped table with two thoughts running through my head:

    • This is a long way from a Riverside Drive prewar
    • Within 30 seconds, I can tell we don't like each other. How can I throw this interview?

    Welcome to the schizophrenic world of first-time homeownership in NYC, a path I’ve been on for nearly two years and one that has me wilting under the glare of 11 members of the co-op board, where I’m applying to buy a 750-square-foot one-bedroom apartment in the building above this basement. 

    I’m at my moment of truth—almost nine months to the day since I made an offer on the apartment here--and all I’m thinking is  “how did I get here and how do I get out?”

    My apartment odyssey started in March 2010 the way many others do: weariness-slash-indignation over yearly lease negotiations wherein I try to convince my landlord I cannot pay Manhattan prices for an apartment in Astoria. 

  • Featured Partner

    Top 10 reasons to call Insurent when your landlord wants a guarantor

    Accepted at about 1,200 NYC apartment buildings, Insurent Lease Guaranty guarantees leases for thousands of New York renters each year at an average cost of about 80% percent of a month’s rent (if you have US credit) and 110% (if you are foreign with no U.S. credit).

    Here are a few great reasons to choose Insurent...

    1. Your mom will cry when she finds out how little your salary is.
    2. Your dad will cry when he finds out how big the rent is.
    3. You don't know any potential guarantors in the Tri-State area who (1) earn 75-85x your monthly rent and/or (2) are willing deal with both the paperwork and risk of being liable for your unpaid rent.
    4. There haven't been any entry level jobs that pay 40x-50x the monthly rent in NYC since the early 1980s.
    5. Your French accent is perfect because you were born and raised there, and, having just moved to New York a week ago, you have no U.S. credit history.