I’m guessing that none of my readers has purchased a pig — unless it was to be properly roasted and sauced — let alone a pig in a poke.
As we all know, buying something unseen or poorly investigated is asking for trouble.
When it comes to real estate, consumers are ill-advised to leave all the inquiries to others, no matter how professional and how trustworthy they are.
No lawyer is going to pick up a portion of a rug to ensure that the floors underneath are the same as those that are readily visible.
No broker will check the electrical outlets as one way of determining whether service is up to date. Nor will a broker volunteer to open a window for you to gauge street noise, and don’t for a minute think you’ll never want to open the windows. . . even if they work properly.
No one’s going to shift framed art to see how badly an apartment touted as “move-in” needs a fresh coat of paint. You alone can decide whether restaurant odors or bustle below will prove to be an immutable irritant.
Note not just how shiny or clean the appliances are, but whether they still are under warranty? And does that hood over the stove vent outside. Will the combo washer/dryer really meet your needs? Can you live with an undersize dishwasher?
One of the most important oversights has to do with renovation. Get documentation, not some vague estimate, of when each component was completed. Learn whether a permit was required and, if so, whether the work was inspected and received approval.
There’s nothing like a missing certificate of occupancy to stall, or even scotch, a purchase.
The apartment alone cannot provide everything you need to know. There’s the building by itself.
Are stairways clean and well maintained? Does your love of a unit distract you from cooking smells, noise, lighting and conditions in public spaces?
The building’s employees can illuminate issues brightly, though perhaps between the lines. Notice how they interact with delivery persons, tradesmen and other personnel. Strike up conversations with them so as to get an idea, if only indirectly, of their levels of job satisfaction, commitment and longevity.
And what is in the immediate neighborhood? You’ll probably count the blocks to the nearest transportation and shopping, but don’t discount the impact on your daily life of human, retail or architectural elements that will displease you increasingly as time passes.
Implicit in the foregoing is the absolute necessity of visiting a prospective new home more than once. Three or four times is better.
Asking the right questions and doing thorough research is up to you. The time and energy you spend doing so will be hours you will have invested profitably.
You don’t want to open a bottle of Dom Perignon after closing only to discover that it’s warm because the fridge is on the blink, that your presence has caused the dog across the hall to bark incessently or that there’s a stain on the herringbone floor that no amount of refinishing will obscure.
Buying a pig in a poke can prove to be a small mistake.
But buying an apartment just casually inspected could cost you weeks, months and even years of lost sleep, never mind the money you’ll have to spend to correct undetected problems or the money you’ll lose because your own prospective purchasers will be more thorough than you have been.
Tomorrow: Money back guaranteed
To take your own bite out of the Big Apple, you can privately search all available properties for a new home.
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022