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When diving into the New York real estate market, it can be easy—even comforting—to fall back on generalizations or shopworn cliches, whether it's "location, location, location," or the assumption that you'll have to shell out half your income (or more) per month to live here. But the reality is that New York real estate is as dynamic and individual as the city itself, and a little research can go a long way towards clearing up misconceptions (and sparing you from ending up in an apartment you're less than thrilled with).
If you’re overwhelmed by the information coming in from brokers, websites and articles, step back and start your search simply. The neighborhood database AddressReport offers free, detailed reports about New York City properties. You just enter the address of the building you’re interested in to receive an interactive report on property values and quality of life issues.
"The needs, wants and relative priorities of every buyer are unique and sometimes difficult for agents or even clients themselves to discern," said Stuart Siegel, President and CEO of the NYC-based brokerage Engel & Völkers. "With so many options to consider, the more you avoid generalities and focus on the details that are most important to you, the more successful your search will be."
In that spirit, here are five major misconceptions commonly held about the market solved quickly and easily through AddressReport.
Prices are skyrocketing across the board
If you’re following New York City real estate, you know that rental and sales prices are up -- way up. Market reports often package this news as a set percentile of growth across each borough. (For example, a 5 percent price gain since last year in Brooklyn, with a 3.4 percent gain in Manhattan.) This number, however, does not tell the story of what’s going on in each neighborhood. Real estate revolves around specific neighborhoods more than it does the borough as a whole. That set percentage across Brooklyn won’t tell you much about what’s specifically happening in Crown Heights.
AddressReport delivers financial stats about specific buildings and the surrounding neighborhood. You’ll get property value estimates, property tax averages, and a roundup of recent sales nearby to give you a clearer picture of what prices look like on a micro level.
It isn’t risky to live in a flood zone
Nearly three years after Hurricane Sandy, it’s easy to forget the risk that comes with living in a flood zone. In fact, many real estate agents won’t disclose when a property is located in a flood zone, or they’ll insist that the building is protected from hurricanes. AddressReport will tell you if a property has been assigned to any of the city’s six evacuation routes, while also rounding up data on storm risk and rainfall averages. If the building is marked as “high risk” for flooding, you will need to consider a game plan for the next serious hurricane.
“Crime is up” or “Crime is down” in New York
Crime is another statistic that’s offered to New Yorkers through a broad lens -- it’s either “up” or it’s “down.” And New Yorkers often hear that the city is the safest that it’s ever been. Again, crime statistics rely heavily on the neighborhood that you’re in. AddressReport tallies the number of felony crimes that happened within three blocks of the property you’re looking up. It’ll also tell you the most common felony crime reported within three blocks. A crime map of the area marks crimes with color coded dots, so you can visualize what types of crimes are happening where.
A small apartment in an expensive neighborhood is more affordable
What New Yorker doesn’t want to live in a neighborhood with park access, great restaurants, and plenty of surrounding subways? Problem is, these areas are often the most expensive. The common logic in real estate is that a small apartment in a nice neighborhood will save you money, and you can still enjoy all the surrounding amenities. What is often not taken into account is that quality of life costs are often higher in more expensive neighborhoods. AddressReport evaluates the cost of living for every neighborhood, including food, transportation, apparel, entertainment and utilities. It summarizes the overall cost of living price, which you can then compare to other neighborhoods as well as the national average.
Commuting from anywhere in New York is simple
First time New Yorkers often move to the city with the assumption of subway stations or taxicabs every few blocks. But often, cheaper apartments in the outer boroughs come with longer walks to subways or longer waits for taxis. Submit your property to AddressReport to see how long the average wait time is for a cab in the area. Any subway station or CitiBike dock within five blocks will also be listed. Finally, AddressReport can calculate your commute time while also highlighting the busiest commuting time of day for any particular neighborhood.
Also from AddressReport:
Enter any building address and AddressReport will generate a free, on-demand "background check" revealing the unbiased truth about that co-op, condo or apartment building and its neighborhood.