Saturday, February 4, 2012

Renter's Remorse

For weeks I have been in a tizzy trying to find an apartment. Rent in Manhattan is spiking because sales are slow. No buyers means more renters and fewer vacancies and higher broker fees. Some brokers are now trying to charge 15% of the annual rent as a fee!

Naturally, I have done all I can to avoid brokers. I have stood on line at open houses (only to find that the apartment was 12' x 14'. Not a typo.). I have been stood up by owners who were supposed to show me their apartment (leaving me standing helpless in the piercing cold). I have looked at probably 20 apartments. I have filled out applications and unsuccessfully battled to have them reviewed in a timely manner. I have fielded lots of calls from brokers ("Yeah, you called about an apartment." Nope, never made one call). I have sent at least 150 emails. You get the picture.

A slow motion nervous breakdown was setting in. I was about to drop out of life and move back in with my parents. Suddenly I got a call from a broker...

Broker: I have an alcove studio in your neighborhood that just opened up.

Me: What floor is it on?

Broker: Second floor.

Me: Does it laundry?

Broker: Yes.

Me: How big?

Broker: 600 square feet. A real alcove studio. You're going to love it. I can show it tomorrow during the day. Can't wait until evening. It will go fast.

Everyone always says apartments are going to go fast. However, during this apartment search, I have found that to be true. A few apartments I was scheduled to see after work were gone by the time I was supposed to see them.

I agreed to view this promising alcove studio on my lunch break...

I arrived at the agreed upon spot and stood in the vengeful winter wind. When the broker's lackey appeared, he said we had to take a walk to get the key. So much for the "convenience" of hiring an apartment finder.

We walk a few streets, shivering every step of the way. I stress that I'm on my lunch break and don't have much time. This bounces right off Brokerbot. He has his canned questions, and they're going to be sputtered no matter what:

How many apartments have you seen?

When can you move in?

I told him I could move in Feb. 1st. He said immediate move-in was required.

I wait outside while Brokerbot enters a building to get the key. He comes back out and starts confusedly reciting the address over and over. The address that he can't seem to decipher indicates that the address is actually a few streets north of what the broker originally told me (those few streets make a difference). We start hiking north...

We reach the building. It looks like an ogre's mouth. An ogre unconcerned about dental hygiene.

We trudge up the dilapidated, Frankenstein Castle steps to the third floor (not the second like I was told).

We reach the apartment. It is a construction site. Literally. No walls, no doors, nothing. In fact there is a work crew inside gutting and rebuilding the dump from scratch!!!

For the sake of who knows what I asked about laundry. There is no laundry. Another falsehood. It also isn't anywhere near 600 square feet.

Me: I can't do an immediate move-in to an unfinished apartment.

Brokerbot: I've seen them renovate apartments in a day.

After being lied to about every single detail of the apartment, I'm supposed to take Brokerbot's word for it that the apartment will be renovated quickly and presented in acceptable working order. And in the meantime I'm going to be paying rent on this junkyard until the renovation is complete. AND paying a broker's fee for my troubles.

I start storming down the stairs. Brokerbot follows me.

Brokerbot: This is a good price. It will go fast!

I reach the sidewalk. Brokerbot is relentless.

Brokerbot: It will go fast (In fairness, Brokerbot may have just been a wind-up doll programmed to recite three phrases).

Me: I know I didn't speak to you on the phone, but the apartment isn't where I was told it would be. I was told it was on the second floor. It's on the third. I was told there was laundry. There's no laundry. And it's not even finished! You didn't show me an apartment. You showed me a construction site!

Brokerbot: It will go fast.

Maybe it will go fast, but not as fast as a person's faith in humanity when talking to apartment brokers.

To be continued...


futures broker said...

Awesome that you are on this and getting the news out in understandable terms.

mkline said...

Damn this sucks Mike. What about roommates in Manhattan? Not sure if those opportunities exist either.

Is it that bad out in the boroughs?