The Real.Est List
7 things to ask the neighbors before you move in
We recently listed a few things your future landlord (not to mention your broker) will probably never tell you about an apartment you’re checking out. Oftentimes, your best bet--as a renter or a buyer--is to corner your future neighbors and get them to spill information vital to your your future quality of life.
Here are seven topics worth quizzing the neighbors about:
- Noise and odors. Unless you can come back to an apartment at all hours during the day, you may not notice the weekday construction across the street, your neighbor’s Tuesday tuba lessons, or the recent college grads prone to throwing weekend parties. Neighbors can give you the inside scoop on noise problems inside and outside the building. Also ask them if there are any problems with secondhand cigarette smoke or cooking odors.
- Bed bugs. By law, landlords and sellers must disclose bed bug history, but you may not be getting the full story. Current residents (especially renters, who don’t have anything to lose) are more likely to tell the truth when asked. For more information on disclosure requirements and sleuthing techniques, see Finding an apartment without bed bugs.
- Crime. You can always check the official NYC website for crime statistics, but the best way to get a sense of how comfortable single women/kids/others feel in the neighborhood is to ask one who lives there.
- The super. Some supers move quickly to resolve problems, others are total duds who take ages to respond to requests or only respond when well-oiled. Building residents will know which category their super falls into. Of course, take this with a grain of salt, since some people are more picky/particular than others. Try and ask several people if possible.
- Rent increases. Brokers will usually tell you that the rent increase will be negligible after your lease expires (they want to make their commission after all!), but neighbors can give you the real scoop.
- Parking. If you’re considering parking on the street, you’ll want to know how difficult it is in your neighborhood. Neighbors can tell you, and they may also be able to give you parking tips (such as streets that have earlier cleaning times). If you’re going for a garage, neighbors may be able to recommend a reasonably priced place. You might also inquire whether the super parks residents' cars as a side job.
- Restaurants/attractions, etc. No one can better divulge restaurant and general entertainment advice than those who live there. Even more important than recommendations, they’ll also probably be able to tell you which places to avoid.