Picture this: Your dream building has an available apartment that’s just hit the market, so you rush to that first open house with high hopes and your checkbook in hand. Once you arrive, you discover that the unit is in your price range. The maintenance is almost affordable. And the apartment has been gut renovated and includes a washer/dryer. What more could any potential New York City homebuyer want or need?

Believe it or not, no matter how much you love an apartment, if one of the following scenarios comes into play,  you’ll run from that listing and never look back. And rightfully so.

A bad smell.

If you step off the elevator and you’re hit with the smell of cat urine, dirty laundry, shawarma, or even smoke, you should accept the fact that any odd or evil odor is probably permanent. Don’t assume that the smell is temporary, and if you’re truly heartbroken, revisit the building several more times and let your nose decide.

A dark, filthy basement.

Basements are generally creepy but add a bunch of trash, a few dark corners, and 100 years worth of filth, and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped onto the set of a horror flick. Stay away–– who knows what’s living in that underground space, or what’s died there. Besides, the condition of the basement is usually pretty telling, and often a window into how the remainder of the building is maintained.


A hidden assessment.

Almost as scary as a filthy basement, a hidden assessment can pull a significant amount of cash from your monthly budget, and last for years. Always ask your agent the question up front: “Are there any current assessments on the building?” You’ll want to know for how much, and how long any assessments will be in place before you make an offer.

A crazy neighbor.

The middle-aged lady with nine cats, the old man who screams at himself, the twenty-something couple who can’t stop christening every room of their apartment –– these are a few examples of neighbors that might drive you mad if you allow. Note: Allow might mean something as simple as living next door to one of these folks.

A barking dog.

A dog barking incessantly or at odd hours (think 3 a.m.) is a turn-off no matter where you choose to live, but in an apartment scenario, the noise is particularly bothersome. Forget about closing a window to mute the noise, or turning on loud music to block it out. You’ll end up making enemies with your other neighbors, which only complicate matters. And if you complain to your super or managing agent, sharing an elevator with Frank and Fido will feel awkward.

A bad view.

Few affordable New York apartments come with a view of the skyline. But it’s one thing to stare across the street into other high-rise apartments and another to stare at an alley filled with garbage or vagrants. You could undoubtedly cover your windows, but eventually, you’ll want to allow a hint of sunshine to stream into your space. And remember, most likely, that view is never going to change, or at least, probably not in your lifetime.


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