Monday, December 8, 2008

One more hunt story to share

Last week I was afraid to write any posts before I signed my lease for fear of jinxing myself. But before I forget I have another lovely hunt story to share.

By Tuesday I had spent a day or two moping about losing Astor Pl place and I'm still smarting about being rejected by Tribeca. But like everyone was telling me when it's meant to be it will be. My management company rep at my current place was actually quite excited when I called her on Dec. 1 to say I would be staying a bit longer. But I wasn't. I couldn't even love my place anymore. I can't sleep here and I can't relax. I find myself staying at work later than I have to because I don't want to come home. That's a sure sign I needed to get out.

On Tuesday night I was cruising Craigslist and there was just nothing in Soho, Nolita or Tribeca. It was either something I'd already seen or something outside my price range. I tried looking in the Village but I am ambivalent about living there. One thing I have learned on this search is that Soho is loud at night and the Village is even louder. Unless I have thermopane windows is that something I really want to deal with? Probably not.

Come Wednesday I spent some time at my old enemies Best Apartments. On my first apartment hunt I was working in Flatiron and called about an apartment in Chelsea. They dragged me all the way up to the UWS just to tell me that apartment was no longer available. Bastards. I still harbor a grudge about that one. And despite this I was about to call them about another place. I must be a sadist.

This time around I called about a 1 BR in the West Village. The ad had two photos that didn't really show anything but the ad said "dishwasher" so I was in. I feel really badly because I called the poor agent on her cell phone around 9:30 PM. I'd just gotten home from work. She was quite understanding about it and actually said "You're still pretty early. I get calls after 11 PM all the time." Once again a broker forced me to come into the office before I could actually see the place but at least this time I could meet her at her office in Flatiron...wait...Best Apartments has an office in Flatiron?? You mean during my last hunt I could have just gone to the office in Flatiron??!? That makes me even madder about my first experience with Best Apts! Argh!

I wanted to meet at 11 AM. The broker, C, had another appointment then so we compromised with 1 PM. But the next morning the agent text messaged me to ask to meet at 11 AM because her appointment had canceled. I got the text at 10:30 and ran my ass out of work to make it in time.

Good thing I rushed because I had to wait around about 20 minutes before C was ready to see me. As 5, 10 and 15 minutes passed my mood got increasingly foul. However there is no sense in starting off a meeting with rudeness so I calmed down and smiled when C finally greeted me. She had me sit down with her boss, K, a dude on a mission to make me feel bad.

K - "So long have you been looking?"
Me - "About 2 months."
K - "Wow, really. And how many places have you seen?"
Me - "Probably about 50." I should never have said this, plus I was wrong. I've only seen about 20 places. It just feels like 50.
K (rubs face with hands) - "Ooookay. And what was wrong with them?"
Me - explains how my priorities changed during the hunt from MUST live in Soho to wanting a dishwasher, closets, prewar, etc. He asked me a few more basic questions about neighborhoods and the like.

K then proceeded to give me what I like to call the "Broker pretending to be your parent but actually just wants your money" lecture. You see Roxy, he told me, you're asking for too much in one apartment! You want space, plus a dishwasher, plus closets, plus below 14th St and that just may not exist in your price range! At some point you're gonna have to compromise on something! Probably multiple things. You need a gut check. You need to re-examine your priorities. You're never going to be totally happy so you may as well just settle for something close.

He then finished up with this gem (not paraphrased, this is actually what he said): "It's clients like you that make brokers bald."

I can't even imagine what the look on my face was but let me tell you that I was seething. I didn't come in for a lecture, I wanted to say. And if you were forthright in your ads I could have probably saved myself 50 percent of the misery I've had for the last 2 months seeing apartments that were not at all as advertised! And you are bald! Don't set me up to say something extraordinarily rude like that!! But if there is one thing that being a manager has taught me it's that retaliation gets you nowhere. So instead I counted to 4, refocused and as politely as I could asked:

"Is the apartment I called about still available?"

K clicked his keyboard a bit and said yes. Yes it is. And as he clicked some more he said it actually sounded like it fit most of my criteria. (I'm well aware, I internally monologued.) We had wasted 45 minutes and I had to be back at work soon so C only had time to show me this one place. K asked me if I minded small places. It's a pretty good size he said but not huge. I have no idea how to respond to things like this. Small meaning...what? 200 sq. feet? 400 sq. feet? It was a 1 BR so how small could it be? C took me.

The apartment was on West 13th between 6th and 7th. We took the V one stop (it was cold) and then walked there. We got in to the lobby where C was supposed to call the Super. Except the intercom system was a phone, there was no directory and C had no idea what the Super's number was. My patience was wearing thin. She called K. She called someone else in her office. No one was very helpful. My God I hate this shit about brokers. Can't they be prepared? Such a waste of time. I was ready to just leave. Finally after about 10 minutes a resident walked out and we got in. It was a large building with an 'elevator.' Except it was one of those really old creaky 1-person elevators that I would never take. The apartment was on the 6th floor. C put her key in the door, and started to turn the wouldn't turn. Here we go, I thought to myself. She spent 5 minutes trying to turn the lock over and it just wouldn't. I tried too. Finally she got it turned 3/4 of the way...and it got stuck. The comedy of errors continues! She calls K, like he's going to help from the office?

Anyway about 5 minutes later she got it unstuck and we got in. I was hoping the place would be worth it but it sure wasn't. While the location was awesome (near the Magnolia Bakery among other things) the apartment was tiny. I had my measuring tape. The kitchen was a wall in the living room first of all so right there I lose space over my current place. The two rooms were tiny boxes. Together they added up to 250 sq. feet. So not only would I lose my separate kitchen, I would lose another 20 sq. feet of living space on top of it. Not worth it. There was also only one, tiny, single-door closet and the bathroom had no tub. I summarily rejected it. All that work for nothing.

As we headed down the stairs I was quite dejected. C started to talk and I thought she would have comforting things to say. But instead she berated me! That was a great place, she said. Your standards are too high. If you keep looking out for that perfect place you're never going to be satisfied by anything she said. You will never move.

This went on for a couple of minutes. I just let her unload. My God where has my fight gone? I should have berated her right back. Instead I just shrugged and replied, "Maybe I won't ever move, you could be right. But I'm not settling for crap." And then we said our goodbyes.

I figured that was the end of ironically-named Best Apartments, take 2, but that afternoon I got a call from C. "Hi, Roxy, I found an apartment in Tribeca that might work for you! Alcove studio, high floor, lots of light, dishwasher...would you be interested?" Uh, OK. Except the rent was $2500, so she had to call the management company to see if they would let me in. Which they would not. And that was the end of ironically-named Best Apartments, take 2. Don't be like me. Don't use them. They are horrible.

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