Managing expectations when apartment hunting

It is tempting to believe, based on the hundreds of fake ads on Streeteasy and broker websites, that you can rent an 800 square foot apartment with a wood burning fireplace in Greenwich Village for a mere $3,000/mo.

This is everyone’s dream and it doesn’t exist.

What you need to do if you’re in the process of searching for a new apartment is to first understand what the market has to offer in your price range. This doesn’t mean relying on pretty photos on websites. It means hitting the streets to ensure the posted photos are not bait and switch ads and that what you see is actually what you’re going to get.

When you rely only on photos you will develop very unrealistic expectations. Photos posted on websites, any website, are meant to lure you. They are there to get their phones to ring. To get people to visit a certain brokerage. This is why so very often when you call about a certain apartment the response almost always is: “Oh, that apartment is rented, but I have another one that is similar.”

Seeing, as they say, is believing.

Because if you believe that line you’re off on an Alice in Wonderland adventure that will waste your time as you chase fake ads hoping to find an apartment that looks even vaguely like the photo you fell in love with.

The proper way to search for an apartment is to determine what your priorities are. Is it price? Is it neighborhood? The answer to these two questions have to be answered first. Because sometimes, depending on your budget, you cannot have both. In some cases, if you love a neighborhood and you want to live in it, it may mean you have to rent a lesser than stellar apartment and rent the neighborhood instead. Otherwise, if you’re smart, you will select to rent in either an adjoining neighborhood – or even one that isn’t close at all – in order to accommodate your price. This way your money gets you more apartment. A better apartment.

After all, you will be spending most of your down time in your home. And since you can’t live in an apartment that doesn’t exist: select the best apartment you can afford in the neighborhood where it actually exists.