Apartment Hunting in New York City – Part 2

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Enquire About Access

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Viewing apartments in Manhattan on Sundays can be difficult, or impossible, unless your budget allows for a luxury apartment building with a doorman. Landlords of smaller complexes will generally schedule viewings through a superintendent, but you still may not be able to view on a Sunday.

Is it Too Good to be True?

If it sounds too good to be true, listen to your instincts. You’ve done your research and you know the price-range for apartments in your chosen boroughs and neighborhoods. If you’re lucky you may find a 2-bedroom apartment in Park Slope in Brooklyn for less than $2,200 per month, but find out the intersection of the apartment if the listing offers one for $1,500 per month. You’ll probably find that the apartment is actually further south in Kensington or Sunset Park, and not in Park Slope. And, if a listing says the apartment is located above 110th Street in Manhattan, it’s most likely in Inwood, Harlem or Washington Heights, and not on the Upper West Side.

This is why you must do your research: you need to understand the boundaries of each neighborhood that you’re considering, because mistaking a boundary could trick you into believing you’re getting a good deal in a fabulous neighborhood, when you’re actually not. Do some research on Wikipedia because they have some great articles on neighborhoods and their official boundaries as per New York City zoning laws. If you’re not familiar with a street or neighborhood, use Google Maps to locate the apartment; then use Street View to gain a clearer idea of what the street looks like. You’ll see that sometimes two different blocks in the one neighborhood can feel entirely different to each other.

Become an Investigator

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If the apartment listing provides the exact address of the building, do your research on the Internet to discover anything at all related to that particular property. You might start by going to the website for NYC Department of Building and view all violations, permits and complaints for that building. If you see that the building has a history of complaints and violations, it could mean that the building is poorly managed or neglected by the landlord; so you definitely wouldn’t want to live there.

Using Street View on Google Maps helps you scan the surroundings of your potential apartment building. If you notice a construction site near the apartment building, work out the address of the site and Google it. Again, go on to the website for the Department of Buildings and determine any violations and permits the site has. What are they building? How long will it take? You can also search borough-related blogs: they keep residents current on recent happenings, and this includes any real estate development. You’ll see that The Brownstoner in Brooklyn has quite an extensive archive of borough news and information. You certainly wouldn’t choose to move into a ten-storey building, only to discover that they’re building a 15 storey condominium right next door, which will potentially block any sunlight from entering your apartment.

Protect Your Interests

Once you’ve found the ideal apartment for yourself in New York City (or Brooklyn or Queens) you should seek legal advice prior to finalizing any legal documentation. You must protect yourself, and we strongly suggest that you ask your local real estate law firm to go through your rental contract. George Russo and Associates are here to help. We offer obligation free legal advice, and our highly qualified, professional staff members are happy to take care of all your legal real estate matters.

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