Thursday, August 13, 2009

Apartment Hunt Trials and Tribulations

So last week I was struggling with my apt decision since I found a studio with a built-in sleep loft on 21st between 8th and 9th. It was $1649/mo with a $50 concession if you paid a week early, but there was a 7.5% fee on a year's rent. Pro-rated out, that ended up costing like $1720/mo in my mind, which was just out of my price range. I was really considering it and I actually saw it a second time and I liked it even more this time. I realized this time that it wasn't actually on the ground floor, but on the "Parlor Floor," so it was actually above the ground a good bit, such that you couldn't even see into the room from the street level. Didn't even have bars on the window. In the end, the main issue was cost. I talked to the broker and she wouldn't budge in any way, shape, or form. She could tell that I wasn't 100% on the place, so told me I could have a couple more days to think it over that weekend. She even gave me the current tenant's phone number, which I thought was really cool 'cause I could ask him questions that would only be answered by someone who's lived there. He told me in general it was a nice enough place, but I definitely wasn't really getting a good deal as I'd be paying the exact same thing he was. Also told me on Saturdays at 7am, they do the recycling so there's like 15 minutes of glass bottles jangling to wake you up. Well, the more I thought about it (and kept seeing more postings on Craigslist), the more I felt like I could do better for the cost (again $1720 in my mind), so I txted her that she could keep showing the place and take applications and maybe I'd be calling her back by the end of the week.

Monday came by and I had like 5 or 6 scheduled studio and 1br viewings. The first 1br I saw was in Chelsea and at a great location (W 16th between 7th and 8th), but it was a little small and the kitchen was definitely a little cramped. Plus there were rotting floor boards and such that the broker didn't think would be fixed. Still, it was doable and gave me more space than the other place since it had the separate bedroom. She told me she was showing it to a bunch of people as well, but she could tell I really wasn't excited about the place and that I should keep looking if I didn't "fall in love" with the place.

I had one scheduled viewing that looked decent on the Craigslist ad, but I went to the address the lady had sent and found out it was "Best Apts," one of the big broker firms notorious for bait and switch tactics so the moment I saw that, I walked right out. Then I saw a place in Gramercy that was a studio, but in a really nice elevator building on the lower level (pretty much like basement level) next to the laundry facilities. For a basement studio, it had decent lighting and an excellent kitchen with great counter space. The main thing I didn't like was the location. It was a little further walk to the L train than some other places, but I was really considering it. I talked to the guy and he said that they would probably bring down the price to $1600 from $1690 if I indeed had good credit and such. Also there was no broker fee! He wasn't showing the place again until 6pm, so I told him I'd call him at 5pm and let him know if I wanted it then and we could do the application then, giving me a chance to look at one more place on my list of appointments.

This next one was a perfect location for me. W 18th between 7th and 8th. 2 blocks down to the L train, and a great location overall. The studio itself was pretty big. Not really a separate kitchen, but definitely doable. Bathroom was decent enough. Elevator building that seemed well-maintained. I jumped on it. Price was $1700 and there was no broker fee, I applied for it at $1600 hoping they'd at least negotiate with me a little based on my great credit and the fact that I had enough in my savings that I could easily pay a year's rent so I'd never default. The kitchen definitely wasn't as nice as the place in Gramercy, but I liked the location a lot better so I decided to go for it. The broker said he'd let me know the next day.

The next day came by and the broker said that the guy who made the decisions was out sick, but apparently there were three applications on the place that all came in at the same time that morning... I guess this was the main issue with applying for a place with a non-exclusive broker. I was kind of pissed, but at that point he was like "the management will probably pick the best offer, which your $1600 probably won't be." I told him I'd go for $1650, but that's the highest I'd go. The next day went by and they still hadn't made a decision yet. I was getting antsy, so I ended up starting to look at places again. I saw one place in Chelsea that, again, had a perfect location (W 16th between 7th and 8th), and the studio was great except the kitchen was awful (two burners, no oven, really really cramped).

Today came and I made an appointment to see one posting in the Union Square/East Village area for $1675 at 4pm ish. I still hadn't heard back about the apt I applied for, but by this point I was pretty skeptical that I'd be getting it. I emailed the broker for the place and finally got a response back around 3:30pm that the management had decided on an application that offered to pay the full price of $1700. Oh well. The broker made an appt with me at noon tomorrow to check out some more places. I showed up to my 4pm and the guy showed me a 1br in Gramercy that was way out of my price range. He said he had something closer to what I was looking for in the East Village so we walked down there to a place on E 13th between 1st and 2nd. There were 3 1br apartments available earlier in the week. Now there was one left at the same price: $1675.

All three places had brand new renovations. Or at least 2 of them were still undergoing renovations and one was actually being moved into today as it already had its renovations done. The people moving in were nice enough to let us check out the place so I could see what the apartment would look like when it was done. It was really nice. The floors are new. All the kitchen appliances were new. The bathroom was new with a new sink and shower stall (no tub). It's a true 1br, so there's a bedroom and a living room, both actually decently sized. In lieu of laundry in the basement, there's actually a Laundromat at the bottom of the building, so that's pretty convenient (I can still bring down my clothes for just the wash and fold if I want, or I can do it myself). Basically I "fell in love" with it, especially at the price range. $1675 was close enough to what I was looking to pay. I talked to the broker and he told me that since the owners had just rented two apartments just like it at $1675, they probably wouldn't go much less since they were pretty sure they could find a renter willing to pay it. I talked to him a while about it, and ended up applying for it for $1650 (the same price I was willing to pay for that Chelsea studio).

So that's where I'm at. I should find out tomorrow if I get the place. The place has an exclusive broker, meaning I can be assured that there won't be any other applications on the place since I paid my "Good Faith" deposit to hold the apt until the owners make a decision. The broker says he's pretty sure I'll get the place, so hopefully I'm done with my search. You can see pictures, Google Maps link, Street View, etc. of the place here:

http://luunatic.com/apts.html





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