Printed from at 07:54 PM, Jan 16 2017
Talk » Sales » Discussing 'Please help!!'

Please help!!


Hello there,
I am trying to make a decision. I have been looking to buy a 1 bedroom apartment in NYC for about 3 months. I have been looking in Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn (where I live now -- Cobble Hill). While my current rental lease does end at the end of June, I COULD find other means to live, but I would like to make a smooth transition, if possible.

But now I have found a place on 88th Street between Lexington and 3rd Ave. A pretty spacious 1 bedroom, with good closet space, in very good condition, but bathroom and kitchen could use a complete renovation (the bathroom especially). Maintenance is 1095 and a 167 "oil surcharge" on top of that (that supposedly ends in 2012, but according to the financials, keeps renewing each year). Very part time doorman, building is in decent shape cosmetically, seemingly otherwise as well. 42 units, 6 floors.

Asking was 465K. I offered 400K. They came down to 440K. I offered 405K. They came down again to 420K.

What do you think? Any recommendations or things I should look out for?

Don't buy a one-bedroom.

RENT a one-bedroom.

BUY a two-bedroom.

either way you most likely wont be able to close in less than 2 months. If they came down to 420k, just split the diff or hold your ground.

they are using OIL today??? they have a surcharge this year when there was almost no winter?

what is the sq ft of the unit? i would guess that the maintenance is somewhat high as well for a almost non-doorman building, as i'm guessing from your description.

since they are going down quickly, you just go up another $5K and see where it will be. renovating the kitchen and bath will be $20+K in manhattan and can take well over a month from the filing of the alteration agreement to you moving in. closing will take 3+ months as well.


If time is a problem (which you say it is), ask your landlord for an extension on your lease. Maybe a few extra months will help you do a proper search for an apartment.

Also listen to NYCMatt, I don't know why buying a 1 BR is such a good deal. How long are you going to live in this place?

Daniel, I don't know your finances, but in this day and age it really is more prudent to buy a two-bedroom than a one-bedroom, for at least two reasons:

-- Given the state of the real estate market, you have no idea how long you may be forced to live in this apartment. The market could go on another downswing in a few years, right when you might really need more space (spouse, kid, etc.).

-- Given the state of the economy, unless you're truly financially independent, no one's income is guaranteed anymore. Having that extra bedroom is a hell of a lot easier for taking in a roommate to help you pay the mortgage when the shit hits the fan than it would be for you to rent out your bedroom while you sleep on the living room couch.

Hey Daniel,

You should also factor in the cost of the renovation. Kitchen and bathrooms are typically worth the investment and can only help your resale value so you are thinking correctly.

Critical though, is selecting the right GC to do the work. Make sure they are given a comprehensive set of design drawings so that the opportunity for them to issue change orders during construction is drastically reduced. Without detailed drawings, a GC will low ball the bid knowing that later he can hit with a multitude of charges that you either pay or halt the work and find another GC to clean up the mess. Neither of which are appealing options to consider.

Michael Wood
Director of Interior Design


THANK YOU for all of your replies :)

I would LOVE, absolutely LOVE to buy a 2 bedroom. I really would. In fact, when I first started looking, I looked at a 2BR in my neighborhood, just to get an idea of the comparisons out there. Unfortunately, though, I JUST have enough money/income for a 1BR, and I have been renting in NYC for over 12 years, and I am just sick and tired of it. On top of that, it seems rentals are pricier than ever (perhaps because owners know that, what with the bad economy, people can't afford to buy, so they are then able to gouge rental prices).

Yes, I have accepted the fact that I won't be able to close in time. I am beginning to work out my living situation in the interim (probably staying with friends or family).

I agree, the surcharge is a very strange thing. It's been going on for years (the maintenance report I have goes back to 2004, and the "fuel surcharge" as it's written, goes back to 2006, when it was 51.30. It has steadily gone up to the $167 it is now. Who know what will happen come 2013. Still, it's expensive, whatever it is exactly, and I think that's part of why the sellers have come down so much. I am also aware of the government mandate to switch all buildings over to natural gas by a certain time, which the selling broker said the building was looking into.

Believe me, I've tried to extend my stay in my current place as long as possible, and the landlord isn't having it (he plans to gut the building, a brownstone).
I don't think buying a 1BR is "such a good deal," but I do think it is the right step for me at this point.
I am planning on living in this 1BR for probably no more than 15 years at most.

You bring up two good points in your second post. And I agree, a 2BR would be a much better investment. Unfortunately, a 2BR is waaaaay too out of my pricerange at this time.

Yes, I have definitely factored in renovation costs. It is partly why this place is appealing to me -- a new kitchen and bathroom can have a big effect on the resale amount. The $45K they've come down will definitely go towards the renovation in part. And thank you for the info about the design drawings. I know to always figure at least double what someone gives as an estimate, but is there anything else I should make sure of, or to check for? You know, just to cover my bases?

Thanks again!

Hi Daniel,

If possible, try to retain a copy of the building's alteration agreement to assess what sort of documentation, security deposits and administrative fees they require. You will also (likely) have to file the construction work with the DOB - this will entirely depend on the building's requirements. If so, you will also face costs for an expeditor and DOB filing fees. To speed things up if you do have to file, you may want to pay a licensed architect to perform a "professional certification" so that you can get a permit a lot quicker. This could save you a bundle if you plan to rent while the renovation is underway because it will substantially reduce the amount of time you have to wait for a permit. Assuming you work full time, your designer is also your advocate on the job site that will make sure the work is progressing on schedule and that quality workmanship and the design intent is being maintained. For more information feel free to have a look at our FAQ page

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Michael Wood
Director of Interior Design

You bring up two good points in your second post. And I agree, a 2BR would be a much better investment. Unfortunately, a 2BR is waaaaay too out of my pricerange at this time."

You're just looking in the wrong neighborhood.

Try looking in a more affordable locale.

Re: Try looking in a more affordable locale.

yeah like that lame neighborhood Matt lives in, way up by Yonkers I think. Is that even NYC?

Hey Daniel,

Are you looking at a condo or co-op? Because I know for around 500K which might be a little out of your price range, you can get a junior 4 co-op, which in a pinch can be turned into a second bedroom to rent out if you ever need to. I just conducted a search myself for junior 4's and ended up getting a condop which pushed the price higher.

Thread: going good, going good, going good, personal attack on Matt...very helpful.

West34, the point is, we can't always afford what we want.

Maybe rather than complaining about not being able to afford a solid gold bracelet at Tiffany, and instead scouring the store for something less, he should leave Tiffany altogether and buy that solid gold bracelet at Zale's. Solid gold is solid gold, but we can't all afford to shop on Fifth Avenue and carry our packages in pretty little aqua bags.

Re: personal attack on Matt
Re: we cant always afford what we want

Hey Falco -- read the thread - the OP says he's thinking about buying a one bedroom on the UES. So the ever helpful Matt tells him, no, buy a TWO bedroom. Then he follows with the sage advice to simply buy in a neighborhood he can afford (like Washington Heights perhaps?).

So Daniel, Falco is right, do as Matt says and buy an apartment size you don't want in a neighborhood you don't want.

Better Falco?

Only because BUYING a one-bedroom apartment really isn't a great decision. If you can't afford to buy at least a two bedroom, renting is a better option.

Comment removed.

I followed Matt's sage advice in the 80s because that's what all the brokers recommended. I stretched for a two bedroom. It was a great place but I couldn't really afford it on my own. When prices recovered I traded down to an affordable apartment. Meanwhile rents have done nothing but rise. My aftertax cost of a nice place is $1500 per mo. That's not my actual outlay. Heck if I sold today, the apt would pay me to have lived in NYC. My advice is to use your gut. Don't take anyone else's recommendation to heart. And don't buy more than you can afford. Your one bedroom sounds great.

Comment removed.

Who gives a shit?

Now now, people, let's not get upset, and let's stick to the topic at hand :) Everyone had a lot of good stuff to say, and I really appreciate it.

Great advice. I will keep the building's alteration agreement. Is this something I get before closing, perhaps?

As for the rest of it, I am CERTAINLY not *complaining* about a 1BR (hmmm.. I don't think I ever did that :D ...heck, I never even knew to compare it to a 2BR!;). What I think... people... need to realize is that, what may be the best route based on the market, climate, and overall return, might not actually be the best for the individual. Everyone's situation is different... very different. Each has their own needs, and their own wants at a particular time in their lives. Everyone has their own priorities, and their own abilities. For me, for instance, neighborhood was a priority for me, more than anything else, actually (you can ask my broker!). I honestly didn't care too much about size, if it had a dishwasher, if there was a rooftop, doorman, anything. But location WAS important to me. And so I made that the priority. Sure, I, or anyone, could just "choose" a different, cheaper neighborhood. You can ALWAYS choose a cheaper neighborhood (heck, we could all "choose" to live in East New York, and live in mansions! OK, not really, but you get the point;). But my CHOICE was location, and so that is what I put on top. I think what you are missing in your bracelet analogy, NYCMatt, is that the location IS the gold (that is to say, the "meat" of the apartment IS the location for some -- many, in fact [hence the saying, "location, location, location"] -- more so than what is inside the apartment).

So ultimately, the choices I had available to me were to purchase something within my means (a comfortable 1BR) or rent something not that comfortable, and keep paying... and paying... and paying... (at really no savings, mind you).

But, I think we should move on from the philosophical element of this conversation (ie, the overarching hypotheses vis-à-vis rent vs. buy in a particular size category), and stay specific to the topic. I welcome all such comments. If there is anyone who has their own opinions regarding said general beliefs, I urge to perhaps create a separate thread about it.

Thank you very sincerely to all those who responded :)

"I followed Matt's sage advice in the 80s because that's what all the brokers recommended. I stretched for a two bedroom. It was a great place but I couldn't really afford it on my own."

Where have I EVER given advice to buy an apartment you "couldn't really afford" on your own??

I find that this article explains the benefits of owning vs renting:

When I bought, I was motivated to avoid landlord discrimination. I was worried a landlord might worry about my future health and lifestyle (it was the 80s, and people were getting sick and being evicted). I was also tired of moving frequently. Now, I'm mortgage free and can easily afford the monthlies but I would fail to qualify for a comparable market-rate rental today since I don't meet the standard 40 times income test. So I live better today than i would if I rented all these years. Plus, I was able to update my place on my schedule and to my budget and taste.

I also agree with NYCMatt. Buying a 1br doesn't make a good financial decision, especially in the 400k range. I'd look in the outer boroughs or continue to rent until you can scrap enough for 2br.

What PMG said was really an important wake up call. We all will age, and most people's earning power will drop after retirement. For those life time renters, they may be forced to relocate out of Manhattan against their will at older ages

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Don't buy a one-bedroom.

RENT a one-bedroom.

BUY a two-bedroom.

I second this.

The guy says he wants to live on the UES. Then he says again that we values neighborhood above all else -- location location location.

Yet people can't come up with any better advice then to buy a two bedroom in a place like Washington Heights (gag) or Long Island City (full on vomit).

He's probably getting 500-600sf for that $420,000. That's a perfectly livable space for a single or even a couple. And if he can afford it he will have a wonderful nest in a neighborhood he likes.

Daniel my only concerns would be the size of the building, lack of full time staff and potential risk on the maintenace for large capital expenditures.

from my view, this coop board is playing games since 2006. their maintenance is high and they don't want to make it higher. by doing an assessment, they think that some shmock attorney will not realize or see it and tell the client to buy.

i would also imagine that the financial of this building are marginal at best.

this building
1 - needs to adjust the maintenance by 10% and stop playing games.
2 - will definitely have a hell of an assessment when they will be forced to go the gas route.
3 - will most likely keep doing assessments for anything and everything.

just think twice and then think again.

Comment removed.

"What PMG said was really an important wake up call. We all will age, and most people's earning power will drop after retirement. For those life time renters, they may be forced to relocate out of Manhattan against their will at older ages"

I've been saying this for years.

This, above all else, is a primary reason for buying: eventually, you will retire (voluntarily or involuntarily, when your body starts giving out), and your income will drop dramatically in your older years. Buying now and paying off a mortgage is the only way to ensure you won't be forced out of your home when that day comes.

How many retirees *today* can afford market-rate rents??

Daniel- I think I know which apt you are talking about. The bedroom has 2 separate windows are different sides of the room and it can EASILY be converted into a 2BR as long as you need to do work on it anyway. I know someone with a similar layout who did just that when the kid came along. Should be relatively inexpensive to do.

>West34 - actually he's getting >800sf, though in "estate" condition, which with some work will in all likelihood be a very very livable apartment, which even with a slightly high maintenance will have been purchased at a very good price.

Actually, considering some past instances here on SE, it might not have been wise for him to post so much info re: the apartment (you know, those vultures who swoop in on good deals lurk on the SE boards).


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