Apartment in Brooklyn - looks great, want to check my feelings
June 10, 2021 4:54 PM   Subscribe

I just saw a really lovely apartment in Brooklyn: good location, lots of light, balcony, roof access, beautiful view, nice closet space, great amenities, and in my price range. It seems great! However, there are a couple of things that I'm feeling unsure about. Am I just worried about change or are these red flags?

Please note that this is in NYC, specifically in Brooklyn.

I'm currently in a 1-bedroom that has a large living/kitchen area and a large bedroom. I've been there 10+years with relatively cheap rent and am looking for some upgrades.

1. The potential apartment seems to be a flex 2-bedroom: good sized bedroom and office room.
The potential living room/kitchen area is smaller than I'm used to and has very little counter space. I'm in the market for a kitchen island anyway, but worry how I might fit my current furniture, especially my couch.

2. The realtor asks for a $500 deposit to secure the apartment, refunded at lease signing. Options for payment are Chase Quickpay or Venmo. Is this a thing these days?

3. The realtor sent a link to an online application, but also asks for additional paperwork like tax return, photo ID, paystubs, etc to be emailed. That's a lot of personal info to send via email. Is that common now? Can I just redact info?

I don't need to move right now. However, my current gets very little sunlight and has
noisy neighbors during the day. The potential place is really gorgeous, with so much light, great view, and lots of perks that I don't currently have. The rent will be higher, but firmly in my price range these days. Suggestions?
posted by wiskunde to Home & Garden (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Number 3 is absolutely what I did in all my apts in last 5 years in Brooklyn. I don’t worry about privacy so I just sent it. The other stuff is kind of regular too.

This place seems perfect and I assume you already lost it since you haven’t submitted your $500 yet.
posted by sandmanwv at 4:59 PM on June 10, 2021 [11 favorites]

Best answer: None of these raise red flags based on my experiences applying for NYC apartments in the past decade but yes, if you want it I’d move on it immediately and I would steel myself for the news it was already snapped up.
posted by superfluousm at 5:02 PM on June 10, 2021 [5 favorites]

2 and 3 seem absolutely normal to me (in somewhere with a hard, but not Brooklyn unmanageable rental market). 1, I think only you can speak to, but moving often requires ditching old furniture and getting new stuff that fits.
posted by General Malaise at 5:02 PM on June 10, 2021 [3 favorites]

I had to do all of these things when I recently moved (they wanted a $350 deposit via Zelle/QuickPay, not $500) and I don't even live in New York City. I think this is totally normal.
posted by twelve cent archie at 5:11 PM on June 10, 2021

Response by poster: Good to know, thank you! I think I'm going to do the application & deposit, then follow up with paperwork this weekend.

For info sent via email, did you redact any information or send any pieces separately?
posted by wiskunde at 5:34 PM on June 10, 2021

The couch is extremely relevant, please get all needed measurements to determine if your couch will fit in as well as INTO the apartment. Get actual numbers and not hand waved “couches have never been a problem here.”

Counter space - ugh. On one hand, it is hard to find enough in the city. On the other hand, if you already suspect it will be hard, then brace yourself. It’s likely to be harder than you expect. Might be worth it. Might not.

The financial stuff - normal and also terrible.
posted by bilabial at 5:51 PM on June 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

Yeah, bring a tape measure next time, and you’ll know for sure. (Or figure out how many of your feet long the couch is, and step it off, or something like that.)
posted by Huffy Puffy at 5:59 PM on June 10, 2021

For number 3: Can you make copies of the paperwork and drop them off in person? This would be more secure than submitting the documents via email. If your SSN shows up on any of the paperwork, I'd ask the landlord/broker if it's OK to redact your SSN.
posted by oiseau at 6:22 PM on June 10, 2021

I redacted my SSN's (and DL #) on my last Brooklyn lease negotiation. They'll know why you did it and it won't be fishy. They may still ask for unredacted, but I doubt it.
posted by mahorn at 6:35 PM on June 10, 2021 [2 favorites]

To be more specific about the couch thing, you need to make sure you can get it through the door without taking off a jamb and/or pulling up the threshold or taking the door off the hinges. Ditto with maneuvering it up through the staircase(s) and around any other corners.

A non-zero number of NYC street couches end up there because they can't get into the new apartment.
posted by bilabial at 6:43 PM on June 10, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: For your kitchen island, check out industrial kitchen work tables - tons of different size options and they’re cheaper than something the same size from IKEA. I love mine so much because it’s far easier to clean than the wooden ones. They also have optional drawers you can attach for extra deep stuff storage.

This all sounds pretty normal for Brooklyn apartment hunting, unfortunately.
posted by A Blue Moon at 8:34 PM on June 10, 2021 [13 favorites]

In Chicago with small landlords (each owned only one property), they had a secure method to upload/encrypt ID documents...if I'm recalling correctly. The first one was working with a real estate agent _who had the necessary systems_ in place, since she was a professional and did things professionally.

The second had found a web system for landlords and was a member and used their facilities.

The privacy landscape depends on MOST PEOPLE not being cavalier with their personal info. It's kind of a herd immunity thing. If everyone starts e-mailing photos of their IDs, it will eventually -- soon, if not already -- become attractive to the malefactors. Let's put that day off as long as possible and not engage with unprofessional landlords.

Yes, people have done it before, and maybe are doing it today; but things are slowly moving to better systems -- too slowly -- and resisting the temptation to just do it because it's easy is meaningful. It will also send a message to the landlord -- you, along with probably another potential tenant or two -- that this stuff will not fly and they need to have some modicum of professionalism.
posted by amtho at 9:09 PM on June 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

It will also send a message to the landlord -- you, along with probably another potential tenant or two -- that this stuff will not fly and they need to have some modicum of professionalism.

Yeah...that kind of...only works if the landlord has to care.

(1) is the biggest problem, but I've only ever lived in one rental in NYC that had something resembling adequate kitchen counters. It's a pain and does affect QOL if you cook, but it's also the tradeoff you're likely to have to make wherever you look.
posted by praemunire at 9:55 PM on June 10, 2021 [7 favorites]

Re 1, you can always turn the office / second bedroom into the main living space, and use the smaller current living room as a dining area (with a cart to increase counter space), and maybe work in either room depending on how you feel. Small kitchens are not that bad or hard to get used to, just takes some organization (see Apartment Therapy for ideas).
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:03 PM on June 10, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I'm also facing a similar move in Brooklyn (for more pressing reasons) and I've bookmarked the link to the restaurant supply store A Blue Moon posted above; storage and space is going to be a big issue on my end no matter where I end up. (There are FIVE closets in my current apartment, and TWO are WALK-INS!)

But mentioning this because I've been exploring the world of Ikea Furniture Hacks, and that could also provide some solutions for coping with the space. You can make a kitchen island out of a couple of Ektorps put together or a couple of base cabinets, with a counter top on top; build a pantry out of another base cabinet with a Hemnes shelf unit on top of that...

What you say about the paperwork is very standard. I spent a year working in a mortgage broker's office and that's exactly what we also asked for from all our clients who were even just CONSIDERING a mortgage.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:24 AM on June 11, 2021

Couch - how old is the couch and how attached are you to it? Unless I had a very fancy couch/heirloom that would be a lesser concern but you also mention other furniture. The only way to be sure is to take the floor plan and measuring tape and measure all the things and to view the apartment again with measuring tape and work out how much room there is.
posted by koahiatamadl at 7:18 AM on June 11, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Kitchen islands can look very nice and also give you extra space to store pots and pans and whatever, this wouldn’t be a dealbreaker for me unless the kitchen was extra freakishly small by NYC standards. If you hire pro movers to do this move (and you should, it is worth every penny if you can swing it ), your chances of them squeezing your couch up the stairwell, through the door, and into the apartment go up exponentially. They always seem to have special secret knowledge of how to do this. You will need to figure out if it will actually fit in the living room though!
posted by cakelite at 9:47 AM on June 11, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Wait wait wait, have you seen the place in person and met the agent? If yes, 2 and 3 are normal.
posted by kapers at 3:44 PM on June 11, 2021

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone! I did bring & use a tape measure, but wasn't sure if couch + related furniture would fit well together. All worked out nicely and I'm enjoying the new place now.
posted by wiskunde at 7:48 AM on July 13, 2021 [2 favorites]

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