Oh Fudge: How To Avoid Common NYC Apartment Listing Exaggerations, Irks And Other Uncool Things

Posted on Tue, 11-30-2010

Do not adjust your browser. The New Construction Manhattan blog is currently in Service Mode. Which is basically the New Construction Manhattan blog operating as it usually does, only with us taking time out from our usual obsessive analysis of the minutia of the Manhattan condo market to deliver real estate news that those browsing Manhattan apartment listings might actually be able to use. (Don't worry, we won't do the this-is-quite-useful thing too often) Today, via New York Magazine's S. Jhoanna Robledo, comes a guide to the four biggest and most frequent misrepresentations in Manhattan apartment sales. It's not quite accurate to call these common real estate agent fudges "lies" -- but it's not quite accurate to call that glorified walk-in closet a bedroom, either.So, for more fun with linguisitic imprecision, broker-related disingenuousness, and Manhattan real estate news-you-can-use, read on. You will almost certainly find it... service-y. "Sometimes sellers and their brokers get things wrong or even flat-out lie to the other side," Robledo writes. "And New York, says real-estate attorney Jerry Feeney, is 'a buyer-beware state.'" The good news, both for those browsing Manhattan condo listings and in general, is that much of this can be avoided by -- feel free to say it with us, because we write it here all the time -- working with a real estate agent you trust, avoiding fly-by-night Craigslist-y experiences and educating yourself on the basics of the Manhattan apartment scene. But anyone who has ever searched NYC apartments for sale will recognize the four biggest misconceptions/exaggerations/half-truths/less-than-half-truths Robledo lays out. Those issues being, in no particular order, secret noise-related issues, unexplained building policy quirks, fudged square footage and -- in one that is sure to resonate with anyone who visited a two-bedroom NYC condominium listing only to find a one-bedroom NYC condominium listing with a murphy bed in the kitchen -- the number of bedrooms. "'To be considered a [legal] bedroom, a room must have a window that overlooks the street or a garden,' explains real-estate lawyer Adam Leitman Bailey. Lot-line windows—those on the sides of a building that might be blocked by construction next door—don’t count," Robledo writes. "A bedroom must also have light and ventilation and, if built after 1929, be eight feet wide and tall. And it can’t serve as a dining room or a passage to another room. You personally may be content to sleep in an unofficial space, but when it comes time to sell, your quasi two-bedroom will become a legal one-bedroom, and you’ll take a price hit." The solution to this common Manhattan condo problem is as simple as can be -- ask questions. Ask your real estate agent, ask your building management representative, ask the doorman or a prospective neighbor. But ask -- New York might be "a buyer beware state," but these sorts of problems are easy to avoid as long as buyers are aware of the specifics involved. Do that, and you can browse NYC condos with confidence. Of course, you don't need to be in Service Mode to understand that.

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