If you’re as starved for outdoor space as most New Yorkers are, the idea of living in a building with a peach- and apricot-tree-lined communal garden may sound divine. But will moving into this $2,700/month SoHo studio—which also has a decorative fireplace AND a walk-in closet—will you be starved for indoor space? Our trio of renters—including RentHackr founder Zeb Dropkin, freelance writer Lambeth Hochwald, and BrickUnderground’s own senior contributing editor, Lucy Cohen Blatter—weigh in for this week’s Take It or Leave It.
Size: studio, 1 bathroom Location: 143 Sullivan St. between Prince and W. Houston Sts. in SoHo Cost & concessions:$2,700/month Flexible Layout:No Days on the market: 19 days Subway: C, E at Spring St.; 1 at Houston St.; N, R at Prince St.; B, D, F, M at Broadway-Lafayette St.; 6 at Bleecker St.; A, C, E, B, D, F, M at W. 4th St.
WHO: Media mogul and author Arianna Huffington suggests more shut-eye leads to success at work. “Sleep your way to the top,” she advised recently. “Four hours is not enough.” So sleeping all day on the job leads to a promotion? We’re in.
Contracting firm Hammer & Hand reclaimed a dumbwaiter space and made it into a wine cabinet. This particular project did not involve getting rid of the shaft--the original door and opening made a perfect wine cubby for the owners.
Brooklyn-based contractor Rick Ladd maximized the storage opportunities in his own brownstone by building closets - all DIY - into the dumbwaiter shaft in his kitchen and an apartment on the second floor. “Dumbwaiters in brownstones often run three or four floors and sometimes the basement too," he says. "Most often they have a large pulley at the roof line and a track that keeps the elevator box in place."
The inside of the closet Ladd fashioned out of his dumbwaiter. The doors are original!
The dumbwaiter opening in Ladd's kitchen is now a floor-to-ceiling pantry. The shaft is technically intact, with the top and bottom sealed off, and the walls Sheetrocked.
Here, the shaft has also been left intact, with the opening and cavity framed out like the interior of a box. It's been outfitted with simple shelving and a wine storage rack.
High ceilings, crown molding, graceful layouts and generous proportions are among the well-known elements of New York City pre-war apartments. But there's another, quirkier feature that's a sign of a bygone era: the dumbwaiter.
Dumbwaiters are small elevators found in large houses and buildings. They were used by servants and vendors to transport items like food, groceries and laundry from floor to floor, and usually they opened directly into the apartment.
Want to beat the springtime rush and find yourself an apartment right now? Naked Apartments is a straightforward way to find no-fee and low-fee places (with broker's fees from 0% to 9% versus the usual 12% to 15%). See some of their selection spotlighted here in our Low-Fee Rental Roundup or go to Naked Apartments and filter by “no fee” or “low-fee” to view more.
Positive you’ve found your next apartment and need to see it right now? Naked Apartments can have an agent there to meet you at once through its nifty Showings on Demand feature.
The condo board of the Time Warner Center (above) snatched a condo out of the hands of a buyer--and gave it to an insider
With an anemic supply of available apartments, packed-to-the-gills open houses and bidding wars for well-priced units, it’s an especially tough market out there right now for New York City buyers. So imagine what it would be like if you think you've finally gone into contract, only to have a condo board swoop in and nix the deal.
It's called a "right of first refusal," and it lets condo boards buy a unit in their building even when it's promised to another buyer, provided they meet the same terms as the existing contract.
Real estate brokers in New York City have a reputation for sleaze and sloth. The typical broker tries every trick in the book to show you an apartment you could have found on the Internet, only to hold out her hand for thousands of dollars in commission fees. Right?
Not exactly, as I discovered in my brief career as a NYC rental agent. In reality, the brokerage business is a tough slog, filled with hidden costs, clients who cancel at the last minute, and prolonged haggling over fees that make up the entirety of a broker's income.
QUICKTIP: In need of a reality check on whether you're paying too much in property taxes? Or have your eye on a new apartment and wondering how it compares? Find out with real estate website PropertyShark. Start by typing the address into PropertyShark to bring up a detailed property report ($9.95 each, or $39.95/month for 150 reports a month).
If you're looking up a condo, single-family home or building, you'll see the last five years of tax history in Section E: Property Tax. Now click on the Find Comparables tab at the top to see if nearby, similar properties have significantly lower taxes. For co-op units, whose property taxes are folded into maintenance fees, compare the building's overall property tax bill to similar nearby buildings using this interactive map.
Buying a fixer-upper isn't necessarily a bad idea--so long as you know what you're getting into. If this is your first time at the renovation rodeo, you're probably harboring some not-quite-accurate perceptions about the project in store for you. We asked some of the city's real estate brokers--who are often the first to hear about a buyer's renovation aspirations--to list the most popular examples of wishful thinking they've encountered.
The Real Estate Survival Guide for NYC Buyers, Sellers, Renters & Dwellers
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