Inside Stories

We came back to NYC, and upgraded from a Gramercy walk-up to a Chelsea penthouse

The couple struck a deal on a one bedroom at The Vanguard. Above, a similar rental available with two months free, making the net effective rent $3,678.

Albanese Organization via StreetEasy

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Kevin Reardon and Molly Moran, design professionals, left their separate Manhattan apartments in March and moved in with Molly’s parents in Georgia as the pandemic shut down New York City. They ended up staying away longer than anticipated, and their leases ended. When they returned to New York City, they had an opportunity to upgrade from Gramercy walk-ups to a Chelsea penthouse. They were represented by Marko Arsic, an agent with Corcoran. Here's their story.

Kevin: Molly and I both lived in separate, prewar walk-ups in the Gramercy area. We knew we wanted to move in together this year. Molly lived with a bunch of roommates, paying $1,600 a month, and I’ve been living in a one bedroom for almost three years. It served me well for a couple of years but it was just too small for two people. 

We were fortunate to stay with Molly’s parents in North Georgia when the pandemic hit New York in March, but we weren’t entirely sure how long we would be gone. I didn’t think to end my lease—I was contemplating the idea but was perhaps a little naive about the process of breaking a lease or trying to assign it. 

We were so unsure how long we would be gone that we really only packed for a two-week trip. We had some time to do some planning and pick when the right time was to come back to the city. There was a period of time when we struggled to make a decision but we both love the city so much and have careers where New York, no matter what, will provide us the best opportunity. 


Editor's Note: Brick Underground's Inside Stories features first-person accounts of interesting, real-life New York City real estate experiences. Have a story to share? Drop us an email. We respect all requests for anonymity.


Molly: I could have stayed in Georgia but I'm not done with living in New York yet. It's where Kevin and I met. We started looking for apartments virtually 24/7—looking to see how the market was doing. I noticed there were so many more options—more than I’d ever seen before. We did a few virtual tours, which were definitely strange, because you can’t really grasp how big a space it is. The first one we were really interested in and they told us about net effective rent. We’d never really dealt with that before. Most companies are offering two months free and the gross rate after. It was definitely an incentive for both of us. Having two months free meant Kevin didn't have to worry about finding someone to take on his apartment. 

Kevin: We got to see some really amazing apartments and we feel like we got back to the city at such a great time and now we are almost 100 percent settled in our new apartment. 

Molly: We wouldn’t have signed a lot of places if they hadn’t offered the two months free. 

Kevin: Our Corcoran agent, Marko Arsic, picked places with good management and enough living space. He also walked us through the amortization of the rent. Some buildings allow you to pay the net effective rate every month rather than taking two months free and then pay the gross rent after that. He walked us how to self-amortize: take the net effective rent for the first two free months, put it in an account and pay ourselves that rent, and then pay the gross rent with the money we already put aside.  

Molly: This really helped me. I’m coming from paying $1,600 and for me, my share of the net effective only comes out to be about $200 more than I was paying. I'm not really going too much out of my budget. We really took advantage of listing the things we really wanted because we knew that in this current climate we could potentially get three of the five things we wanted out of an apartment. Our agent even suggested we make a list of eight things and if we checked off five of them, that would be considered an amazing deal. We went above and beyond to tell him all these things we wanted—a big kitchen, lots of storage and closet space, good management, lots of living space. 

Kevin: It came down to this apartment at The Vanguard and an apartment at 41 Park. The gross rent of $4,300 did make us do a double take, we thought it was out of our budget, but with concessions, and with the ability to negotiate, our agent really helped us get the best deal possible. The first couple of days living here I woke up and thought, 'when do we have to check out of this hotel?' It really does feel like that. Now, we are only kicking ourselves that we didn’t sign a lease for two years.