While some people treat apartment hunting almost as a hobby and love spending their weekends on apartment showings, others might consider it a source of stress and anxiety.
Like with most things in life, the more prepared you are, the better. This is why we reached out to our Triplemint experts to find out what questions to ask, how to avoid bad surprises, and what things to look out for when apartment hunting.
Even if not all of these questions relate to your specific situation, this list will serve you as a guide, making you feel more prepared and taking away any insecurities you feel about the NYC apartment search.
Plus, it’ll help you filter out apartments that won’t make you happy in the long run, and your real estate agent will be impressed that you’re so prepared!
When it comes to apartments, it’s not only what’s on the inside that counts. Triplemint agent Brigitte Pays urges you to pay as much attention to the building itself as you do to the apartment. The moment you step into the building, ask yourself; “are the lobby, front entrance, mail area, and trash area neat and well maintained?” Brigitte advises. “Paying attention to these small factors can tell you a lot about the management and overall upkeep of a building before even stepping into the apartment,” she explains.
Anne Richmond, Client Success Manager at Triplemint, spends her days talking to clients on the phone and matching them with the right real estate agent. She has more to add to Brigitte’s advice: “Ask your agent if there is any planned maintenance on the surrounding subway lines. This will have a significant effect on your quality of life in the area, and your daily commute.”
How is Maintenance Handled Here?
No matter if you’re renting or buying, having a superintendent on site is a seriously great amenity. However, you should dive deeper into what this will mean in practice. “Make sure to ask about the average time it takes for the super to address any issues you might have in your apartment,” says Anne. “Ideally, they would at least look at the issue the same day you contact them, and fix it within just a few days.” This will be especially important when there’s no hot water, but you desperately need a hot shower.
If there’s no super on site, this doesn’t mean you should take the apartment off your wish list. “Alternatively, the building could have partnered with an external maintenance service, who would send someone on short notice,” Anne explains.
What Utilities Are Included?
When the listing description says, “utilities included,” our bank accounts give a sigh of relief, but what exactly does that mean? Brigitte Pays knows: “While heat and hot water are almost always included in the monthly rent, it’s still best to confirm with each apartment you visit. Sometimes you’ll run into the rare case where tenants are expected to foot the quarterly water bill or you could be pleasantly surprised to learn the landlord covers an extra utility, such as gas, so it’s always best to confirm at the showing.”
How Long Did the Previous Residents Live Here?
This is another question Brigitte advises to ask. “Anything above two years is favorable,” she explains. “There is definitely a certain sense of comfort that comes from hearing about previous customer satisfaction, and, in this case, it often helps you as a potential buyer or renter to immediately visualize what your life could look like living there long term.”
Let’s Talk Money
If you’re looking to rent, “ask about the typical rent hikes in the building,” advises Anne. “It could be anywhere between five percent and 15 percent, and gathering that information upfront is definitely a good way to avoid bad surprises.”
As a buyer, it would be very interesting to get a sense of how much the property could appreciate within the next few years. This lets you determine if the apartment will serve you as a good investment opportunity. As we mentioned in a previous article, a property needs to appreciate by at least 10 percent, just to cover the fees that you’ll have to pay at signing.
Brandon Lee, another expert agent at Triplemint, chimes in on condo and co-op fees. “Make sure to ask about the application fees and process,” she strongly advises. Her tip isn’t only addressed to buyers. “Even as a renter, you might face application fees and move-in fees that you’ll have to calculate into your budget,” she tells us.
Whatever your budget or timeline, Triplemint’s expert agents are ready to help you find your dream NYC apartment. Contact us today at 212-235-1123 to start your search.