When Nour ElGharib and her husband moved to New York City from Boston two months ago, they found a two-bedroom rental at The Oxford, a condo building on the Upper East Side, for $5,500. Not only was this a 20 percent discount on the pre-pandemic rent of $7,200, the owner also agreed to replace the floors and window shades. Parisa Afkhami and Mitch Askinas, the Warburg Realty agents representing the owner, guided the couple through the process. Here's their story.
We were looking for a two-bedroom apartment because we have a baby and we also wanted to be close to my husband's work on the Upper East Side. The Upper East Side is notoriously expensive but the apartment we found had been on the market for three to four months and no one was biting. The owner kept bringing the rent down. At the original rent of $7,200, we would not have been able to afford it.
When we were looking at listings, we realized a lot of them were being rented out at a discount—almost always a lot lower—so that gave us confidence.
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We got it for $5,500, which is an insane deal. And not just that—when we first came and saw the apartment we noticed the floor was really old and it had these ugly old window shades. The agent showing the apartment asked what we thought of it and suggested we put in an offer and ask for some upgrades. She knew how desperate people are to get their properties off the market.
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So we said we'd take it at $5,500 but we’d like all the floors replaced and custom shades installed. The owner was happy to do that. I think it was a combination of needing to get the apartment off the market as quickly as possible but also the condo owner being a really reasonable, wonderful person. We just lucked out. It was an excellent deal.
We didn't get any free months because this is not one of those newer rental buildings with institutional management but we didn't pay a broker fee.
The condo is owned by an individual who wanted someone to stay longer, probably because they don’t want to go through the process again—and who knows what's going to happen? We know from experience and because we have a baby that we don’t want to move in a year so we locked in a two-year lease with a $200 increase the second year. If the pandemic was over and the rent went up to $7,200, we wouldn’t be able to afford it so we thought a $200 increase was not unreasonable.
The apartment has great light and is in a great location. It has two bathrooms and really nice views that aren't obstructed, so we get a lots of nice light. There's also a balcony. The apartment is large, around 1,300 square feet, and there's a really decent-sized living room and ton of closet space. The building has a doorman, gym, pool, and a playground for kids, which is really nice for us.
The condo just hired a company to manage the gym and pool. The company is setting up an appointment system so you are only allowed to have three people in the gym at one time. In the pool, you can only have one family at a time.
My husband is from New Jersey and he went to medical school in NYC. We lived in Washington Heights before we went to Boston. The city feels very different from pre-pandemic days but perhaps that's for other reasons; we are older now; and have a baby; and have a little bit more money. I feel like we took advantage of everyone leaving the city and we are just getting the city for ourselves.
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