image of prospect park brooklyn nyc

One big myth is that there’s no green space in the urban jungle.

From the bright lights of Broadway to the beautiful brownstones of Brooklyn, New York City holds an unmistakable allure. Yet many of those who wish to live in the five boroughs have perceptions about it that don’t match reality. Some believe the entire region is beyond their budget, while others buy into myths about subletting and squeezing roommates into a studio. To separate fact from fiction, let’s debunk 15 common myths about NYC real estate.

1. “It is very expensive to live on the Upper East Side.”

Not true. It’s actually one of the more affordable Manhattan neighborhoods. Yes, Upper Manhattan — which includes Harlem, East Harlem, Morningside Heights, Washington Heights, and Inwood — is cheaper. But the Upper East Side is not all park-facing old mansions. There are good values and lively blocks in Yorkville.

2. “Landlords are totally fine with having two people in a studio.”

Typically, this is not true. You might be able to sneak a second person in for some instances, but as a rule, landlords are supposed to accept only one person for a studio, two people for a 1-bedroom, and so on.

3. “You can do whatever you want in a condo — there are no rules!”

Yes, condos do have boards and policies and rules. Most condos require that lease agreements are in effect for at least one year, and the condo board does have to approve the tenant. In addition, if you are renovating a condo, you still need to get approvals from the condo board, and when necessary, the architect for the condo. But the approval process for condo living is still significantly less intense than it is for co-op buildings, in which an interview is typically involved. (See the pros and cons of a condo, co-op and condop.)

4. “There are so many apartments available.”

This not true: Relatively speaking, vacancy rates remain low. The latest Housing Vacancy Survey, using data from 2017, places the overall NYC vacancy rate at 3.63 percent, up from 3.12 percent in 2011 and 3.45 percent in 2014. Manhattan has the highest vacancy rate of any borough, at 4.73 percent in 2017, while the Bronx has the lowest, with just 2.71 percent of available apartments unoccupied.

5. “My dog or cat is coming with me, and any building has to accept them.”

“This is not true, as some buildings don’t allow pets and some only allow cats or dogs — and there is, of course, a size requirement,” explained Douglas Elliman real estate agent Kipton Cronkite. “People who have not lived in Manhattan and have pets figure this out quickly when searching for a home.”

6. “Walk-ups are all scary, run-down buildings.”

Sometimes people ask for elevator-only buildings, but are frustrated with finishes, not realizing that walk-up buildings can be very well cared-for and sometimes more recently renovated. Some also feature coveted amenities, like a video doorman.

7. “Cool parts of Brooklyn (i.e., Williamsburg) are cheaper than Manhattan.”

In reality, you can get many rentals cheaper in parts of Manhattan than in the trendy nabes of this outer borough.

8. “You don’t need a broker!”

There are several advantages to working with a broker. Often, brokers are aware of apartments not yet listed. Additionally, these pros will help negotiate the rent and lease. Sure, you can go it alone, but be aware of what you might be missing.

9. “You can’t buy anything in NYC unless you have $1 million.”

There are actually some very strong options in Manhattan for under $500,000 — same goes for Brooklyn and Queens.

10. “The landlord will just like me and give me the apartment.”

“It’s great to get along with your future landlord, but one must meet financial requirements, such as the minimum 40-times-the-rent requirement,” Cronkite says. So, for example, to get a $2,000 apartment, you have to prove at least $80,000 in annual income.

11. “I’m a great tenant and the landlord will let me sublet to anyone I want.”

“This is false,” Cronkite says. “Depending on your lease agreement, some landlords do not allow subletting during the term of the lease; however, some will allow subletting if you have paid your rent on time and explain and introduce the proposed tenant.”

12. “I don’t want to buy furniture, so I’ll get a furnished rental.”

Furnished rentals are more difficult to come by lately. If you don’t want to spend money on new furniture, consider renting furniture.

13. “New York City rentals only grow more expensive year after year.”

Not true. Rents in Queens fell 1.3 percent during 2017, and are continuing to decline.

14. “Renters have to accept the monthly asking rate, there’s no room for negotiating.”

“Rents across Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens continue to cool, providing renters with more bargaining power than in recent years,” explained StreetEasy Senior Economist Grant Long in the market report issued Feb. 28. Really, it can’t hurt to negotiate.

15. “There’s no green space in New York City.”

The Trust for Public Land ranked New York City seventh out of the largest 100 cities in the U.S. in terms of accessibility and quality. With close to 40,000 acres devoted to parks, residents enjoy plenty of everything from neighborhood playgrounds to dog parks.

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