The mistakes that cost home buyers thousands of dollars

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April 15, 2020
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If you’re looking to purchase a home in New York City, there are a few common mistakes that could possibly cost you thousands of dollars. Here is how you can easily avoid them.

NYC guide to real estate

With everything that’s going on with the COVID-19 pandemic, is it time to buy in New York? You now have lower interest rates and price drops, but there are still many mistakes you can make while buying a house that can come back and bite you in the wallet. These unexpected issues can be related to the building and apartment, or maybe even the neighborhood surrounding your new home. 

This NYC real estate guide will not only highlight each of these issues in detail, but also show you how to avoid them and save hundreds or thousands of dollars in repairs and home value. With everyone currently staying indoors, it can be a great time to start researching for your perfect place. Even better, you can do all the necessary research while in the comfort of your own home.

Here are just a few big things you should look out for when you’re apartment hunting:

New construction

It’s always a letdown after purchasing the perfect apartment only to realize you moved in a construction site near your building. The noise and potential dust coming from the site is definitely not a great thing, especially since construction can potentially last for long periods of time.

To avoid this, you don’t have to go searching in person yourself to see if there are any constructions going on. Instead, you can search listings on Localize and the platform’s insights will not only reveal if there’s construction nearby, but will also tell you if there is one planned in the near future. It also gives you information on when it starts and the estimated end of construction.

With these great insights, you can either avoid it all together or even move into a space knowing the building process will soon be over. For instance, this apartment in Kensington, Brooklyn has nearby construction that is estimated to continue until 2023. However, this space in East Midtown, Manhattan has no upcoming or planned construction near the building.

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305 East 51 Street, #4H: East Midtown apartment with no nearby construction

Blocked open views

Many people that are apartment hunting want a place with a nice view of the City. Even better are those places with beautiful big windows with open views. However, due to the consistent construction of new buildings, some apartment views could be potentially blocked in the future. There nothing that feels worse when after the construction, you realize your once open view of the city is blocked! 

Luckily for you, Localize’s insights can tell you if an apartment space could have its views blocked in the future. This is based on the number of empty lots around the apartment building, and if those lots owners are allowed to build buildings taller than yours. Additionally, you can discover how much view the apartment building could potentially lose and if there are concrete plans to build on those empty lots. While taller buildings may not be built, it is a good idea to know it’s a possibility before you purchase that apartment space.

A few apartments with views that could be blocked are this 1 bed, 1 bath apartment in East Village and this two-family home in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. However, some spaces with beautiful open views to consider right now are:

avoid these mistakes before buying in nyc
181 President Street: Brooklyn family home with beautiful open views

Subway closures

One big mistake when buying an apartment is not researching transportation lines and options beforehand. While there might be subway lines running from your new space to your work, there could also be unexpected subway closures that you weren’t aware of before purchasing your apartment. This could be a difficult inconvenience as you’d have to figure out a new way to get to work, and some other transportation options might not be as efficient. 

It is important to do your own research to avoid spending too much of your day commuting to and from work. With Localize. every listing has a transportation tab where you can look at nearby transportation options, including how long it’ll take you to reach them. You can even add in your own commute from the new space to your work to see how long it’ll take.

Additionally, you can filter your search by indicating how you usually travel (by transit, car, bike, or walk) to ensure the listings that show up for you are catered toward your commute style.

If you want to bike as your commute, the transportation tab also tells you if the neighborhood is bike-friendly and how far the nearest CitiBike station is from your building. You can also filter for listings that are in a “bike-friendly area” to begin with to narrow down your search.

is it time to buy in new york city
130 Hicks Street, #6B: Brooklyn Heights apartment in a bike-friendly area
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Flood zones

Houses and apartment buildings in flood zones are ones that have the potential to cost you quite a bit of money to repair when a natural disaster occurs. Flood zone spaces are ones that have a higher probability of being flooded in cases like a hurricane or large storm. This means that if a hurricane floods your new apartment, it could create thousands of dollars in damage. So for spaces like these, flood insurance may also be a required purchase.

While some may enjoy living near the beach, others may prefer places outside of the flood zone. Localize will label every listing in a flood zone, both on the listing itself and even on the search page thumbnail, so you can clearly know what you are purchasing. Additionally, insights shown on the safety tab under “Area Insights” will also show if the space is in a flood zone or a hurricane zone. You can check out there if the space is in a hurricane evacuation zone and the percentage chance of it flooding every year.

Some apartment spaces that have a high flood risk include this 1 bed, 1 bath apartment in Long Island City, Queens, this 2 beds, 1.5 bath single-family home located in Staten Island, and this 3 bed, 2 bath condo in Tribeca, Manhattan. It is important to note that while some apartments may be still near bodies of water, they don’t all have the same high flood risk. 

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200 Chambers Street, #13N: Beautiful Manhattan space in the flood zone

Natural light in apartment

If you’re someone who enjoys having plenty of natural light in your apartment space, it can be difficult to determine how much light a space gets just based on the pictures. Even in-person visits can be a bit misleading as light coming in can be based on the time of day you have chosen to view the place.

For instance, north-facing windows don’t usually get direct sunlight, east-facing windows will mainly get the morning light, west-facing windows get afternoon light, and south-facing windows get light for the majority of the day. If you’re someone who often works from home, having natural light during the day can be a great thing, especially in the winter when the sun isn’t out for very long.

While some apartment descriptions will tell you about how much light the space gets, sometimes they can be exaggerated. A simple way to know how much natural light a space gets is by utilizing Localize for your apartment hunt! All the NYC real estate listings posted in the platform include the amount of light your potential new home gets. You can also filter listings for ones with good sunlight to narrow down your search.

A listing with an abundance of natural light coming in would be this 2 bed, 2 bath apartment in Spuyten Duyvil, Bronx and this 1 bed, 1 bath space in Jackson Heights, Queens. On the contrary, one with very little light is this studio space on Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn. 

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2621 Palisade Avenue, #15C: Bronx apartment with bright natural light

Noise levels

High levels of noise can be a downside potential buyers may not notice until they’ve purchased a place and moved in. While high noise levels can be due to the apartment or home near a bar or club that can get crowded on nights and weekends, less obvious noise traffic can include airplanes and helicopters that fly by. For instance, this single-family home in Country Club, Bronx is on a flight path with airport noise.

Living in a noisy area is definitely not ideal for those who work from home or even those that want a quiet space to relax after a day of hard work. Localize’s insights on listings include if the apartment is on a flight path with airport noise, or has high noise levels in general. You can easily filter your search by adding a “tranquil street” to your list of needs. That way you can view all the houses in quiet, relaxing areas without worry about stumbling upon one with a potential high noise traffic.

Some of these homes located on a tranquil street are:

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25 Bedford Street: West Village townhouse located in a tranquil street

Building violations

An apartment unit and building can look perfect in pictures, and can even have a facade of being updated and clean with just a cursory look. However, things such as missing paint, lead paint, water leaks, mold, pests, and safety hazards can take you by surprise. Additionally if these issues occur directly in your apartment unit, such as water leaks and pests, it’ll take a good amount of money to repair damage and clean up the area.

Make sure you are purchasing a unit that is within a building that keeps their space updated regularly. By buying an apartment in a building that is constantly on top of maintenance and cleanliness, you can ensure your apartment was kept up to the same standards!

A few apartments in NYC that have no building violations and tenant complaints are:

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290 West 232 Street, #20F: Kingsbridge listing with no building violations

Crime rates

Regardless if you have a family or are living alone, you may not want to live in an area with high crime rates. It can be a bit difficult to research and look up crime rates of every single neighborhood and area you are interested in, especially if you’re looking through more than ten different spaces.

To ensure you’re living in a safe neighborhood, Localize can tell you the crime rate of the area the apartment listing is located in. Under the “Area Insights” section, you can find a safety tab where it’ll tell you if the neighborhood has low, average, or high crime rates. The platform’s analysis looks into violent crimes reported compared to the city averages. When searching on Localize, you can also filter for listings that are in an area with low crime rates to make your search even easier.

Some homes in New York City with a low crime rate:

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102-10 66 Road, #17D: Apartment space in Forest Hills with low crime rates

Many times apartment hunting consists of long hours of searching listings and then open houses after open houses. Luckily, there is a solution for you to search for your perfect home while keeping yourself safe and comfy at home. Localize is here to help make your apartment search less stressful and faster.

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