Oh Look! A Reasonable Place!

Let’s dial it back a little with the obscenely beautiful and unattainable homes for just a brief moment. Because, despite protestations to the contrary, there are still total scores out there to be had. I know, I have found them! I am in fact living in one of them at the moment. What it takes to find them, however, is a complete devotion to your search. Not a “Oh, I set a Zillow notification, so I’m on it” dedication, but a doing-it-like-it’s-your-job-except-nobody-is-paying-you devotion.

Some (rational) people trust that they should leave that type of work to real estate brokers. And why wouldn’t they? They are paying them anywhere from 1 month’s rent to their firstborn child to land that perfect spot. I, unsurprisingly, am not one of those people. I am the one who angrily hands over the broker’s fee for them doing little more for me than unlocking the door. Granted, they’re doing a lot of work for the landlord—taking pictures and posting the listings and making themselves available to unlock the door and handling the lease—but for me? Not so much. [REMIND ME WHY I WOULD PAY THE FEE AND NOT THE LANDLORD? Sorry for screaming.]

A few tips I’ve got for you that may or may not be totally helpful:

  1. Check all the real estate search engines. Not all of them have all of the listings. So in New York, I check Zillow and StreetEasy (which my broker friend says is the best as far as accuracy goes). I’ve dropped Trulia because I find it really lags on updating listings. Other cities use Redfin and I’m sure there are others that I’m missing.
  2. Recruit your friends. Seriously, this is the way all the good apartments and jobs get taken: someone knows someone and before you know it you’re living in a garden apartment with an old landlady who never raises your rent because you’re such a nice girl. Appeal to your IRL social media friends. If you’ve got bros who live in a neighborhood or building you like – enlist them. Some of us love to help!
  3. Take Craigslist with a grain of salt. Chances are that perfect apartment you just saw listed is a total lie. But sometimes it’s not! #1 tip for CL: ignore all the posts with ALL CAPS HEADLINES. Be committed to CL, too, if that’s your preferred route. You’ll begin to recognize the dupes and be able to hop on something that’s truly new. Remember this is your new job.

OK, those are all the tips I can think of right now. Now on to the apartment whose very pretty bedroom I’ve posted above. It’s a total steal at $2200/month and there are a few reasons why. It’s pretty narrow – definitely under 16-foot wide federal-style townhouse. If you don’t have loads of stuff, this is totally ok (I fantasize about having this little stuff). Second, it’s alllllllllllmost right under the BQE. The label of “Ft. Greene” is a tiny bit of a stretch. However, if like me you’re trying get your steps in, the hike to the subway will be good for you. Lastly, the kitchen is a little dated and really just a hallway between the living spaces. But it’s totally workable (look, dishwasher!):

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The living room is also “cozy,” as the broker babble goes, but I think it’s really sweet with tons of natural light because I’m pretty sure this is the top floor apartment.

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If you and your architect boyfriend want to give this place with good bones and super white walls a go, here is where you can find it:

79A Clermont Ave, photos via Corcoran

My Kingdom for a Washer & Dryer

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When I moved to Clinton Hill, Brooklyn 17 years ago I couldn’t afford to buy an apartment. Nearly every day I kick myself for not sacrificing my future and my financial stability to buy, what was then, a $250,000 apartment. But, as a 24-year-old with no income and a distinct lack of down payment (10% or otherwise), it wasn’t in the cards. Now those low-200s 1-bedroom apartments are low 800s apartments and I still can’t buy them. The goal post keeps moving.

But if I could have, I would’ve bought one and turned it into a sick rental like this. And I’d be rolling around in all my money right about now. This one looks like it’s had a second bedroom carved into it but it’s still a good size and the upgrades look on-point. If you’re going to have an open floor plan (ahem, all you House Hunters), you’re gonna want your kitchen to be sparkly and beautiful with a nice pendant or two separating the main living space from the main cooking space.

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The smaller bedroom’s got pretty opaque retractable doors letting the light flow through. 369 Washington is a gorgeous pre-war building, but that natural light doesn’t come easy. Nobody’s peed all over this bathroom before either. Plus, it’s got the holy grail of apartment living: a washer and dryer. Just yesterday I was trying to do laundry in my neighboring building (our building’s laundry room is under renovation) and I lost four dollars and a serving of detergent and did not get any clean clothes out of the deal. Washer. And. Dryer. It’s like you’re whispering sweet, line-dried-scented nothings to me.

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It’s certainly not the deal of the century at $3,369 but if you like pee-free floors and washers and dryers, maybe you want it?

369 Washington Ave, Apt 1A

 

Welcome to House Scouting!

I am guilty of being an incurable house scouter. I live in Brooklyn, NY – the epicenter of housing that is both desired and unaffordable at the same time. The envy that I feel, the what-ifs that roll around in my brain, the mental gymnastics that I go through to figure out just how I could land myself in this brownstone, or that apartment, or that other upstate cabin borders on pathological.

It’s pretty silly that I am constantly looking in the first place. I’m one of those few lucky people who’s been in her rent-stabilized, larger-than-average apartment for 16 years. It fits most of my needs (just barely). To keep myself in good standing as a tenant, I do repairs myself and scream at my kids not to stomp too loudly on the floor so they don’t disturb the super who lives below us. I pay my rent on time and try to fly as far under my landlord’s radar as possible. But I’d consider trading one of my stompy children for a second bathroom, or a postage-stamp sized outdoor space, or maybe another bedroom in a heartbeat.

Rather than trafficking in illegal human trade, I figured I’d do something with this never-ending hunt that I’m on and share it with you. Maybe you need an apartment! Maybe you’re a real estate obsessive like I am! I plan on posting good deals in great neighborhoods, absurdly un-great deals in even greater neighborhoods, apartments and houses that you and I are never going to get to live in but love peeking into anyway, and maybe some design scores that you totally should buy. After all, a good chair may be in your budget even if a corner brownstone is not.

If you see an amazing place that you think I should share, by all means, send it to me at: housescoutingsite@gmail.com because sharing is caring.