16 things I wish I knew before buying this place

By Margot Slade  | April 19, 2011 - 9:45AM

Responses to's 20-20 hindsight question of the year--"What do you wish you had known before you bought a New York City apartment?"--continue to pour in since we checked last week. Our favorite then was "That 'case-by-case basis' actually means 'absolutely not.'" The best of the latest:

  1. Doormen can be very annoying, especially when they try to have a personality.
  2. A basement laundry room is better than a noisy, inefficient, heat-producing in-unit washer/dryer.
  3. How difficult, stressful and expensive it can be to get approved for renovations in a co-op. Many brokers will say when showing an apartment. "Oh, you can just put the AC through the wall, very easy, common renovation," or "No big deal, washer and dryers are allowed in this building, you can add one in the kitchen." Yeah, right. EVERYTHING is a big deal when getting renovations approved!
  4. Buses and trucks are STILL loud on the 10th floor. 
  5. Best thing we did, at the advice of a mortgage broker: Ask for a "CEMA," a mortgage assignment. Thing I wish I'd known: Don't ask them to cover "closing costs," specifically request that they cover the sponsor's attorney fees and the transfer tax. Getting the CEMA saved us about 12k; not asking specifically for transfer tax cost us about 12k. Live and learn.
  6. The idea that a good building and great apartment make up for a crappy block isn't true.The block affects the way you feel when you come home and go out.
  7. That renovating an apt in original condition is a lot more time consuming, financially draining and stressful than I thought. And that was without having any trouble with my coop so I could only imagine what it would be like to throw that into the mix.
  8. Unless you receive exceptional service, tip conservatively (but appropriately) during the holidays the year you move in. I later found out that I tipped almost 3x what other residents paid. There's no turning back.
  9. I wish I had listened to my attorney when she said holding back $8000 in an escrow account was not enough to guarantee the developer would finish the work he promised in a timely manner.
  10. Electric water heaters suck. 
  11. No matter how you try to seal around them, fireplaces cause a terrible draft the 99.9% of the time you're not using them.
  12. The listing said the building had a concierge. We have a porter, a live-in super and a passle of doormen. Which the heck one is supposed to be the CONCIERGE? And what is he supposed to be doing?
  13. The elevator will break down frequently in a pre-war and it's good to live on a low floor.
  14. Don't assume that bathrooms are ventilated, as required by law, or that just because one of your bathrooms is, the other also is. 
  15. That south facing windows, while nice and bright, can bring a lot of heat into a room, which sucks in the summer.
  16. Don't assume that anyone on a small co-op board has any idea what they're doing (and I say it lovingly, because I'm now that person and learning as I go along). 

(; previously)

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Confessions of a preconstruction buyer

The 7 worst places to live in a building

How to analyze a rendering

The top 7 construction defects, and how not to be a sucker

Your next place: 9 questions that separate the New Yorkers from the rookie

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