Sunday, May 3, 2009

Inaugural post: realtor fees

To start the greatest masterpiece of all internet New York fan-literature ever I have to touch on a subject that has effected almost everyone who has, does, or ever will live in New York City: realtor fees.

Getting an apartment in New York City can be exhausting. First there’s the mental exhaustion of looking at 132,435,321 places online. Then when you narrow it down to 5 places you want to see it becomes 10 because every realtor has one more place that is “just a few blocks away” that is smaller, darker, dustier, yet supposedly more like what I described to them.

So after weeks of preparation I end up wandering around in circles all over the city because some real estate agent just thought of one more place to show me that I'd absolutely love that's on the other side of some park. Cool. It's like a free guided tour of bad neighborhoods. Plus I don't have to go for a run for a week because I've just walked the New York Marathon.

But then, just when I’ve given up all hope, I find the apartment. Of course it’s more then I want to spend but it’s across the street from one I saw 12 hours earlier which is exactly where I want to be right? That loud humming noise coming from the restaurant downstairs? It’s like the realtor is saving me from buying my own noise machine to lull me to sleep each night. Fine, I’m exhausted, it seems like it’s a good place in a good location. I tell the realtor I’m in.

Now, I've looked at apartments before. I know the deal. My friends in California told me their realtors want 2-3%. But we’re on the East Coast; 5-7% is a bi hefty but if that’s what it takes…

As we approached the realtor office I began to think about the worst case scenario: one month's rent. Ok. I will figure out a way to do that. The realtor probably has little demon children to feed whose tails are growing more out of their pants every day (is that vaguely sexual? didn't mean it to be).

So imagine my surprise when I heard 15%. Fifteen percent!?!? Of an entire year! Are we having a funny moment? Am I supposed to laugh? 'Cause I'm giggling like a maniac. I can’t control myself.

Now I've watched too much dramatic television to not try to play some good cop/bad cop. I turn to my potential roommate who is looking rather pale and say, "We're not paying that." Pretending to appease me she slips into moderator mode. "Can I see your calculator?" she says. The realtor, who frankly couldn't give a shit about my theatrics and is playing with her blackberry, slides it over. The roommate presses random buttons for five minutes of uncomfortable silence before saying, "What about one month's rent?" And so the game begins.

The realtor shakes her head no. Angels cry and flames roar up from below warming my feet. Some back and forth. "This is silly," says I and make to get my coat. The realtor looks at me wondering if I'm really going to walk out. Maybe I am realtor, look into my soul with your demon eyes and see for yourself. Before my head explodes the roommate comes up with a counter proposal that works for Satan's minion: 10%.

Sure I have to call my mom and she has to offer them her first-born child but at least that first born child has an oddly shaped room in a New York City apartment now. And thus I was introduced to how ridiculous New York can be.

photo from

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