After the collapse of our NYC move-in plan, we’ve regrouped and are trying a different approach… Sal and I are looking at apartment listings online and, when we find something that looks intriguing and have good email/telephone exchanges with the broker or landlord, we ask a friend in New York to actually go look at it for us and report back.
It’s time consuming, but when you’re 500 miles away, it’s the best you can do.
This approach has actually been fairly successful, in that we’ve been able to identify which ones we wanted and which we did not. Some looked fantastic in the ad, through the description and limited photos, but when a local friend showed up and walked through the place, it turned out they were not-so-great. And through others, we were cautiously interested on paper, but a walk-through revealed it was FANTASTIC.
Here’s a neat trick: When you’re doing a walk-through of an apartment on someone else’s behalf, you can take a short video on your iPhone and upload it to YouTube. PRESTO! A few minutes later, your would-be apartment dwellers can look at the walk-through video online, hundreds of miles away. In retrospect, it’s a shame more brokers don’t take the time to do a video walk-through in the hopes of attracting more prospects.
Unfortunately for us, the one in particular that we REALLY loved isn’t going to work out. The monthly rent is within our price range, but the broker wanted 15% of the annual rent as his upfront broker fee. That’s not including security deposit, pet deposit, or first month’s rent (all of which go to the landlord) — no, that’s a commission to the broker for taking ten minutes to show it.
To hell with that!
Still finding the dogs to be a limiting factor, as some landlords just don’t want dogs as big as ours. But in the end, we will find a place that we love, and for which the dogs won’t be a problem… It’s just a question of WHEN we will find it, and whether we’ll find it from afar or we’ll have Sal half-move up there in advance and start searching in person.