I have a confession. I am a real estate junky. If it’s possible to inherit such a thing, I think it definitely skipped a generation, because my paternal grandmother was also a wee bit obsessed with real estate. Of course, this is not a bad trait to have when you live in the NYC metro area. Real estate is a BIG deal here. Which is ironic, considering how many New Yorkers live in such *tiny* spaces.
Now that we’ve recently begun our full-fledged apartment hunt in Brooklyn, I feel like my real estate obsession is both a blessing and a curse. I know we need to find something *soon* – as our closing is in just a month, but I am second guessing the almost perfect apartments that we’ve found (and are applying for), and wondering if it is still possible to find “the unicorn” apartment.
The unicorn for us would be a *real* two bedroom (one that fits a king sized bed and other furniture), one or two bath duplex apartment, with a new kitchen with full-sized appliances (no mini-stove please), a dishwasher, washer/dryer in the unit and a sizable living area. Oh yeah, and they *must* allow our three cats. And, the kicker, we want all that – in a not-scary neighborhood, including heat and hot water, for $3K or less a month. Oh, there’s more … the rainbow striping on the unicorn for Jay would be access to VerizonFios, a doorman, and that the building not be in a known flood zone. Hell, if we found all that, I’d happily pay the outrageous real-estate fee that I’m *sure* we’d need to pay to live there.
We’ve seen a slew of apartments (somewhere in the 25-40 range). We’ve toured multiple neighborhoods: Fort Greene, Vinegar Hill, Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Kensington, Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights, Gowanus, Boerum Hill, Prospect Park South. The OCD apartment hunter in me started my own custom Google map with apartment notes just to keep track. Even then, when I sat down to update my map at the end of the day, I would start to confuse or blend apartment features together after a long day of hunting.
Apartment hunting in Brooklyn in real life is so NOT an episode of House Hunters. It’s nothing like The Hunt column in the NYTimes real estate section that I read religiously every week. At least not from my recent, personal experience.
At first, apartment hunting is exciting. So many websites to search! Zillow, StreetEasy, NakedApartments, NYTimes, NYBits … I could go on & on. New neighborhoods, old architecture and it’s charm, new architecture and it’s amenities, so many listings, so many possibilities!
And then you go and look at the apartments. And then you face the harsh realities.
Apartment hunting is exhausting. Apartment hunting is stressful. The hunt will make you desperate as the days on the calendar flitter by and the clock ticks down louder and LOUDER. Top 5 lessons I’ve learned in my month or so of serious searching is the following:
- Space is expensive.
- Photos are very deceptive.
- There are a *LOT* of bait and switch online listings.
- Concessions come quickly, especially under a time crunch
- Walking the “chosen” neighborhoods and in between those neighborhoods is the best way to get a feel of the city.
(Bonus: Wear sunscreen. A full day of walking in Brooklyn in June = sunburn. Ow.)
We’re now waiting on approval for two very different apartments – one in Windsor Terrace and one on the Gowanus/Park Slope South border. But, as we wait for them to find us worthy enough, I continue to hunt. I’m still hanging on to a micro-sliver of hope that our unicorn is out there and just waiting to be found. And on that note … I’m off to another realtor “blind date” to see another apartment after work today. Who knows … maybe this one will be the *one*.