If you're new to New York City, chances are you're about to embark on quite a few apartment tours to find the right place for you. Here are some things to look for while on the hunt—because size and rent aren't the only things that matter in an apartment.
1. Water pressure. Turn on the showers and the sinks to make sure there's decent water pressure and your morning showers will, you know, actually get you clean. People usually don’t check until they move in, and by then it can be too late.
Michael Minarik, a broker witth Mirador Real Estate, had a client lose out on an apartment because she was traveling and refused to take the place until she'd checked out the water pressure. (She'd had problems with it in previous NYC apartments.) By the time she got back to the city, the place was gone. "Now in every apartment I go into, I tell people to check the water pressure—every faucet, sink and toilet."
2. Check out common spaces. Do the hallways seem clean and well-maintained? Is garbage piling up in the garbage area? A building that is tidy is easy to spot; having a live-in super helps. "People assume that buildings have live-in supers but often they don't," says Eric Rohe of the Corcoran Group. "Be sure to ask."
3. Turn on the oven and stove. "Give it a couple of minutes and see that the oven heats up. Make sure the burners on the stove work, too," says Rohe. "I was just showing an apartment and the client was a chef—she wanted to make sure that the oven works and the fridge was cold." Sometimes, the landlord will replace old appliances when a new lease starts, so check if this is feasible.
4. Make a cell phone call. "A lot of the most expensive apartments in luxury buildings are on the highest floors, and they can have bad phone reception," says Minarik.
5. Keep an ear out for noise. Noise tolerance is a very personal issue, and can depend on how much you plan to be in the apartment, and when. If you work from home, you may want to visit the apartment during the day (maybe there's a school with a play street next door, in which case be prepared for convos, screams, and ball-bouncing while you work). If you have a pet who scares easily, you may want to be further from the elevator, where there's a lot of foot traffic and noise. If you can, visit the apartment during the day and at night, advises Rohe. And look out for things like restaurants, bars, and construction nearby. Those are clues to how loud living there will be.
6. Check out the closet situation. New York City apartments aren't known for tons of closet space, and you might have to get creative (think double racks and underbed storage). If no amount of ingenuity will make your stuff fit, you might want to consider a building with built-in storage or leasing storage space elsewhere.
7. Take measurements. You need to make sure that everything you own fits so you don't have a moving day meltdown. "Sometimes apartments have strange layouts; you want to make sure the dimensions work for what you have already," says Rohe. Couches and other large pieces of furniture sometimes don't fit through the front door. Taking measurements in advance can help you avoid the problem.
8. Look for mouse and roach traps. Peek under the sink in the kitchen and bathroom. A lot of traps could be a sign of a rodent or bug infestation.
*** This story was updated on May 5, 2016.
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