Friday, July 27, 2007

And Then There Were None

Frustrated by the evil broker gang again, I decided I needed a new tactic on Thursday. I read a fascinating New York Times article about people who saved every last penny to buy apartments, and I felt inspired. If they could save 10-20% for a deposit in NYC, I could certainly find an apartment to rent.

Back on the No Fee trail, I Googled some related terms and found a few interesting sites - had no fee listings but required a registration money, City Realty (which came recommended by the NYC Rent Guidelines Board) seemed a bit light on listings and nothing else seemed very promising. So I turned back to the gray lady herself and searched the classified section. Who knew NYT still had one?

Actually not only did the Times have a real estate for rent section, it was quite impressive. I did an advanced search, first on difficult. Elevator, Gramercy/Flatiron/Union Sq. under $1700. As you can probably guess I got no results. I changed my tactic - $1700 or less with no fee in the Village, Chelsea, the above holy trinity, Midtown East or Upper East Side below 96th St. (Craigslist please take note of that last neighborhood search option. Please.) This time 5 ads came back, with two actually having a fee upon further review.

One stood out though - East 66th St studio, legitimately no fee, $1600/mo. The ad boasted about dishwashers, elevators and a doorman. But the ad was also confusing. The title said East 66th St, but the blurb mentioned the area between 9th and 11th Streets. Huh? I went to the management company's site and saw that they owned several buildings in several neighborhoods, including one at 12th Street and 6th Ave in the Village. I called the number on the ad and found out the ad title was a misprint online - the building was the one at 12th St and 6th Ave.

It was very secret-agent like. Mission 1: Call this cell phone number. Mission 2: Call another cell phone number at 10:30 the next morning to set up a viewing time. Mission 3: Get actual address of building. Turns out it's called the Villager. Appropriate. It looked beautiful in the ad shot. I hoped real life matched up. Later on it hit me - 12th St at 6th Ave! Holy crap, that's only like 10 blocks from work! So walkable.

I know I was supposed to wait until 10:30 to call, but my patience ran out at 9. Luckily, the management firm knows how impatient people like me are and the rep had the phone turned off. 9:45 same deal. Got through at 10:15 and set up a 3:30 PM meeting time.

I had a meeting in Union Square at 2:30 that only took about 20 minutes, so I headed over to the place early. 6th Ave is pretty busy, so there was a lot of traffic both on the road and on foot. The heat and humidity were back, so I sat on the stoop and sweat for half an hour. I called at 3:15 (No one will be there for 15 or so minutes, sorry, was the response, which was very polite. I probably deserved a quit calling you dumbass!)

At 3:30 on the dot the rep came and promptly asked me if I was a broker. Nope, I said, don't need one. He let me into the building, which was gorgeous in real life too, and I asked him about the studio.

- Studio? Oh no, it's a 1 BR.
- What's the rent?
- $4595.
- Well, the ad talked about a studio.
- We have some studios, but not here.
- How much?
- One for $2595, one for $1900, and one for $1625.
- Ah ok I thought the $1600 one was here.
(Weird look from the rep.)
- No, it's at East 66th Street!

Aha! So to see the place at East 66th Street I had to call the cell number again at 10:30 tomorrow morning and set up a meeting time and go up there and oh it just seemed like too much. It was worth a shot, but I didn't want to have to trudge up just to find out that the place was gone. I was bummed about not being able to live in the Villager. Plus, there was definitely no doorman. The rep was short on details, and I decided to call it a day.

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