8 Things to Pay Attention to During Your NYC Apartment Hunt

Originally posted on October 27, 2021 3:00 pm
Updated on December 01, 2021 3:02 pm

Searching for your next home in the big city is both an exciting and stress-inducing prospect. While you may think deciding on that “perfect fit” NYC neighborhood and a budget you can afford are the most important items on your house hunting to-do list, it’s only the beginning.

The real work to find your dream apartment actually starts on viewing day! It’s the first time you get a little glimpse into the possibilities for your new corner of New York City so it’s important to go in with your eyes wide open. After all, it can be the difference between your dream home or a big city nightmare.

1. Decide what time of day makes sense for your viewing.

In certain circumstances, the time of day you get that first peek at your potential future apartment matters. 

For instance, if you work from home and natural light is important to you, you may want to request a viewing during peak daylight hours. 

On the other hand, if you’re sensitive to noise and looking in neighborhoods with more nightlife like Hell’s Kitchen, East Village, or the Lower East Side, an evening viewing might make sense. This strategy will give you insight into how well the apartment is protected against outside noise. 

If possible, you may even want to check out the area at different times of day to get a sense of how the vibes shift from daytime to nighttime. 

2. Consider the climb to the top.

In a city full of charming brownstones, historic walk-ups, and converted warehouses, elevators are a luxury, not a guarantee. These types of properties are pretty standard in some of NYC’s most desirable neighborhoods like SoHo, West Village, and the Upper East Side. 

While you might initially consider the positives of a top-floor apartment like more light, a better view, or rock-hard hamstrings, you also need to consider your lifestyle. If the apartment doesn’t have a washer and dryer, your laundry will need to go both up and down those flights of stairs a few times a month. And if you prefer to buy weeks’ worth of groceries at a time, you may quickly begin to feel like an urban pack mule in a six-floor walk-up.  Also, don’t forget you may have to carry your trash/recycling up and down the stairs if the building doesn’t have a built-in trash chute. 

3. Keep an eye out for creepy crawlies.

You’ve likely heard all the stories. Maybe you’ve even had your own “pizza rat” experience. Most big cities come with some furry and creepy crawly residents. And we’re here to tell you that NYC is definitely no different. 

When viewing apartments, keep a close eye on bathtubs, corners, and under cabinets where little visitors like to hang out. If they’re there during a viewing, it’s likely a problem that management hasn’t been able to solve. If you’re extra weirded out by unwanted roommates, stay away from basement and ground floor apartments as they’re more accessible to street creatures.  You may also want to check the NY Department of Building’s website to see if the building has had any rodent complaints filed against it. 

4. Don’t be afraid to check water temperature and pressure.

After a long day in the mean streets of the city, the last thing you want is to come home to lukewarm water trickling out of your shower head. 

In older buildings, it’s quite common to have issues with water temperature regulation and pressure. Take a few extra minutes to check the showers and faucets in your potential new apartment before signing on the dotted line.

5. Check your cell service.

In a metropolitan city as big as New York you’d think that cell phone service would be stellar everywhere, but unfortunately, that’s just not always the case. 

Large steel buildings like the ones in Midtown or FiDi, and the brick walk-ups sandwiched together from Chelsea to Murray Hill can sometimes block a strong signal. A quick glance down at the bars on your cell phone during an apartment viewing can give you an idea if getting clear service will be an issue come moving day.

6. Ask about your superintendent.

If you’ve lived in the city for a while, you know how important your super is to the overall enjoyment of your apartment. Don’t be afraid to ask your broker or potential landlord about the super of your prospective new building. Do they live on-site? Do they only service buildings in the area? 

The closer your super is to the apartment and the fewer buildings they service, the more likely they are to be available when you need them. When your radiator blows during the dead of winter you’ll be patting yourself on the back for looking into your super situation. And the first thing you’ll want to do when you move in is to make friends with your super because he will likely make or break your NYC living experience.

7. Check out the other spots on the block.

What are the most important elements of an awesome NYC city block? If you haven’t yet figured that out for yourself, you soon will. 

Do you prefer to be able to pop down to a bodega for late-night snacks? Are you a light sleeper who prefers a block with no late-night restaurants or bars? Maybe you have to wear suits to work and need a convenient dry cleaner. While you might be focused on the actual apartment, make sure to also scope out your potential new block before you commit to your next place.

8. Don’t forget to research your management company.

In NYC your building’s management company or landlord will be your main point of contact for the duration of your lease. 

It’s important to check up on their legitimacy and reviews to be sure you’re working with a reputable manager. It can also help to build a good relationship with your management in the event of any issues in the building and come lease renewal time.

Part of vetting your property management company also includes being wary of fraud and scams that happen in competitive markets like NYC. Never send money to brokers or landlords before viewing an actual property and signing a lease. Some scammers will provide fake pictures and ask for deposits to hold properties in markets like NYC where properties move quickly, but this is unlawful and dangerous. Large fees or deposits are also a red flag that something isn’t quite right. Be sure that you see apartments safely in person and thoroughly review any lease agreements before signing.

Finding your next apartment shouldn’t be a complicated process, even in a wild market like NYC. Don’t forget these important considerations in the apartment hunt that aren’t prioritized as often as things like updated appliances or proximity to the subway. Because when you actually move into your new pad, these things will be critical to your day-to-day apartment peace in the big city. Happy hunting!

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