No two apartments are the same in NYC, which makes navigating a sale or moving to a rental its own unique experience. Even so, there’s no need to make the mistakes of those who’ve gone before you.
We’ve culled the best of Brick Underground's first-person column, Inside Stories, for tips from buyers, renters, and recent transplants to New York City about some of the hazards of the real estate landscape and how you can spot them yourself. We're talking bait-and-switch listings, neglectful landlords, horrible floods, and much more.
If you have a story to share, drop us an email. We respect all requests for anonymity. Read on for how to avoid some major pitfalls.
[Editor's note: An earlier version of this post was published in February. We are presenting it again in case you missed it.]
Moving from out of state
Long distance moves have plenty of stress factors. Be wary of signing a lease on an apartment that needs a gut renovation before you can move in. The model unit in the same line might look nothing like the one you signed for. Worried about how the kids will adjust? We spoke to tweens who’ve made the move and have these words of advice.
Once you get here, turns out, living in a building with a doorman requires some adjustments, like getting over how much they know about, and see of, you and your neighbors. If you're moving within the city, review your building's rules before the big day.
Be very wary of basement apartments, they can be prone to flooding, and no one wants their toilet to turn into a geyser. And if you’re couch surfing with kids while you find the right place, an apartment with a cat can be a good distraction.
If you’re looking for affordable housing—remember you won’t have a stake in the lottery if you don’t apply. That's the advice of one military veteran who won her apartment.
Buying in NYC
When you put in an offer on an apartment, you should already have talked to an attorney—waiting until the last minute to find a lawyer is like looking for an ob-gyn as you’re about to give birth.
Check out these tips from one buyer who looked at 150 apartments before buying in NYC. If you’re taking the co-op plunge, make sure the board has a capital plan. Board meeting minutes may not be enough to tell whether the building is being mismanaged. And make sure you take a look at the building's basement—and if you notice rat droppings, run. Also, talk to everyone, including the doorman, the super, and the residents to get a feel for a building if you find an apartment you like.
Avoiding renovation headaches
When you are embarking on a remodeling project, especially in a co-op, double the time you’re told it will take. Board approval for renovation plans is time-consuming. If you’re eyeing up your neighbor’s apartment to expand into, an invitation for coffee and a chat (and some patience) might pay off.
But don’t waste your time waiting to go ahead with a project, especially if you have a shed at the end of the garden—get on and renovate it—and don’t skimp on new flooring. Turns out salvage stores can turn up some surprises, including beloved woodwork from an old apartment.