Punk'd

I’m pretty sure that we were Punk’d yesterday. We had an appointment with a woman at noon to see three apartments in Brooklyn. We met her at her office, filled out some paperwork and then headed off with her and a “coworker” in her car.

She was a small asian woman. And, forgive me for saying as much, but not the most intelligent individual. She was super trendy and liked fashion. She was born and raised in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia. Which basically means, “I grew up in a mall.”

So we’re in the car with her and the other woman who she called “Stacy”. Stacy had pink hair and wore leather. Stacy was a very serious woman. She liked to talk about all things driving.

Make sure you wear your seatbelt. They pull people over for that here.

What time is it? If it’s not yet 1 p.m. don’t even think about parking here. They will give you a ticket. They are street-cleaning.

I parallel park good. I could get us into that spot.

And she did. Mena got out of the driver’s side and Stacy got in and Stacy parked that bitch. She parked it real good.

I once drove myself across the country. Took me 1 month.

And then we saw our first apartment.

There is a new strategy the broker’s use in New York now that Craigslist exists. They will post one property as a “NO FEE” apartment. (For those of you who don’t know what this means, in the past it was nearly impossible to find a place without paying a broker’s fee. They act as the middleman between you and the owners of properties.) After they reel you in with a NO FEE listing, they sneak in a few more with a fee. (I’m assuming that the fee apartments are nicer than the NO FEE apartments. But don’t quote me on that. Especially based on what we went through yesterday.)

The first apartment had a fee. But that’s totally o.k. because it was downright awful. The kitchen was the biggest room in the apartment. Stacy said, “THIS IS THE BIGGEST KITCHEN IN ALL OF WILLIAMSBURG.” But she couldn’t drive it so it was of no real use to her.

The walls were all off. There were no right angles. The bathroom looked as if someone filled it up with “brown”, shook it hard like a dollar-store snowglobe and then set it down to rest. The “second” bedroom was barely a second at all. It was more like the bastard you leave locked up on the basement. The building itself was o.k. but the apartment, quite frankly, was not. BUT THERE WAS A VIEW! And by “view” I mean you could see a few metal tips peeking out from over the other Greenpoint rooftops.

So we left to see number two. Number two was worse. Much later I would say to TobyJoe, “If we were to move into that place, I would be driven to suicide.” And I meant every word.

The kitchen was yellow and blue. And had it been attached to something less hideous and disturbing, it could be considered nice. But the living room was not at all nice. Someone painted the walls blood red. And not “live” blood red, but dark blood-that’s-been-sitting-out-and-curdling red. And the walls were not even. There were bulges behind layers of paint. It’s as if we had entered the inside of someone’s stomach in the middle of an autopsy. I was sure that at any moment the metal objects would come poking through the red wall and pluck Stacy up and out into the sunlight, the glorious sunlight.

The bedroom was filled with the most horrible 1985 set of furniture I have ever seen. The owner thought “Well, maybe someone would like to have this wonderful bedroom set. So let’s leave it and let them decide.” And for that, I have concluded that she is a blind lady from New Jersey.

It was a very depressing apartment. I am still twitching because of it.

Once back inside Mena’s Toyota, Stacy started asking questions.

So what do you two think so far? Are you interested? Did you like one that you saw?

My head exploded. I am a terrible bullshit artist. But at the same time, it’s really fucking hard to tell a stranger the truth when you’re in their car. This is where Toby saved the day and came up with some crap about the second apartment and how “cute” the kitchen was. And how cheap it was. All was o.k. But right about then I began to think there were cameras on us and Ashton was gonna jump out and say “DUDE, JUST FUCKING KIDDING YOU! HUMANS CAN’T LIVE HERE!!” But that did not happen.

And then we saw the third apartment. The 3rd apartment was only slightly awful. It was about 115 degrees. It would have made a kick ass Bikram studio for the homeless. Had it been in the lower east side, or had it been about 700 dollars, I may have thought about it. But it wasn’t. Instead, it was 1350 and it was on a major road cutting through the not so wonderful part of Brooklyn. The apartment faced the back which faced another building and an alleyway.

What I find surprising is that people actually eventually RENT these places. But what I find most offensive AND surprising is that this “real estate company” actually looked at Toby and I – a married couple making enough money to afford something nice – and decided to show us this bullshit and assumed we might actually take it.

We must have been Punk’d. There is no other explanation. Someone let me know when we’re on the new reality TV show called “Condemned.”

36 Comments

  1. I think people hear about how hard it is so hard to find an apartment in New York and they take the first thing they can find thinking there is nothing else out there for under a gazillion dollars. Good for you for sticking to your guns.

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  2. I think you’re dead-on with that one.

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  3. Your comment about how she could think you’d even like it—-was what I was thinking while reading it…kudos to you for keeping your composure, I think I’d go slightly balistic on the first one who showed me crap. Do they misrepresent it in the ads or something?
    Moving to the mid-west sounds better everyday.

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  4. Another level to this is the fact that the owners of these buildings LET them get to be this way without a care in the world or a desire to fix it up each time someone exits. It’s shocking to me. I haven’t owned a house or anything, but I’d like to think I’d treat it with a lot of respect should this one day happen. Even if I don’t live there. :/ Weird.

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  5. I believe I have made my feelings known in previous comments what I think about landlords and contracting/temp agencies. I think you have now introduced me to the professional bastard child of the two: the rental broker.

    Next time you’re out with a real dud like this one, look for tiny silver valves on the ends of the radiators and give one a good twist. I mean, do you think they can hold you liable for any inadvertant water damage?

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  6. Good Lord, these apt prices you’re quoting boggle my mind. Being a rube from the small town of Portland, OR (pop. 475,000) who’s never been to the Big Apple, I can say those prices are mortgage payments here.

    How does anyone making less than, what, $25/hour afford an apartment? And why would you own a car in NYC if there’s nowhere to park it?

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  7. Yeah, for sure. But there are ‘deals’. You just have to not be desperate. And most folks are when they move here because finding a place to crash for however long it takes to find a place is rough sometimes. We have that luxury for the most part.
    To be honest, however, I’m not sure how most folks do it. I think a lot of people have numerous roommates and end up living in not so pleasant situations. For example, I once visited a friend in Manhattan many years ago who was living with two other guys in a “two bedroom” apartment with a square footage of about 700. They built a wall in the kitchen/living room so that one fella could have some privacy. The bedrooms fit a bed and then one table. Twas not pleasant. But somehow they lived there. I have no idea why or how. NYC has a way of humbling folks, I suppose. :]

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  8. I think I’d rather have my eyelashes slowly plucked out than to have to go apartment/house hunting in NYC. It sounds awful from everyone I’ve ever heard/talked to. Hang in there, I’ll keep my fingers and toes crossed for you that something great will come up.

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  9. And the car… in Manhattan, you have to be friggin loaded to have a car and be able to safely park it. I think parking a car can cost up to 700 dollars a month. (Don’t quote me on that.) But in Brooklyn, depending on where you live, there is quite a bit of parking. The thing with Brooklyn, however, is the insurance is outrageous. For some. So you’re kinda screwed either way. Sort of.

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  10. You know, I hope that I made that figure of 700 dollars up. Could parking a car cost that much? Am I remembering incorrectly? I paid 165 in college for a room in a house. That’s crazy. Totally crazy.
    I think tomorrow I will buy a fancy car and rent a really great parking place. Fuck it, I’ll just move into the car.

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  11. That could be right – in Chicago it can cost $20,000+ to buy a parking spot with your condo, so that sounds about right to me.

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  12. Great idea. Hell, a Hummer could comfortably fit a family of four. Rent a port-a-potty to put on the sidewalk by your parking spot, and you’re set.

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  13. I’m sure that there are garages that charge $700/mo or more. Most charge in the $300-500 range, I think. My favorite is a friend who live on the east side (York Ave, can’t get much further eart in Manhattan), but parks her car in a garage on the west side. That seems excessive even to me, and I’m a die-hard New Yorker.
    Question-are you absolutly set on Brooklyn? Or would you consider looking other places? Just curious.

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  14. No, we’re not set on Brooklyn at all. We’re set on comfort and that’s really about all. :] We’ll settle for a nice hood surrounded by nice people.
    How much are Hummers? The kind you drive, of course.

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  15. I suddenly like where I live, a little more now.

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  16. Well, it helps to have an unbelievably cute dog. How is the pooch? I hear someone had a little procedure done yesterday.
    Apartment update: We have two we’re pushing for. We’re not sure which one to take assuming they are both offered to us. One of them already is. The other, we’re still waiting to hear about. We like them both. There are pros and cons to both. We’ll see. Maybe I should let the Internets decide which one we should choose. :]

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  17. Wow – for once I am glad I live in the midwest. At least we get to look at ugly shitty houses the realtor thinks we would like.

    PS – Came to you from Dooce and I think you’re hilarious.

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  18. Ok, Megan. Here goes:

    FIRST APARTMENT
    Pros:
    1) In Greenpoint/Williamsburg
    2) Two bedrooms (four rooms total, plus a kitchen and a bathroom.)
    3) Third Floor. Lots of light.
    4) 1400 a month – DIRT cheap
    5) Newly renovated. Very, very nice paint job, etc.
    6) Near the L and the G but a 10 – 20 minute walk (depending on which one you wish to go to.)

    SECOND APARTMENT
    pros:
    1) 7 Blocks from the gym
    2) Near the R/M train in South Park Slope
    3) BRAND new. I mean, new new. NO one has ever lived there.
    4) 1700 a month.
    5) Lots of light. Corner unit.
    6) New, up and coming part of Park Slope.
    7) Seems to be a lot of parking (not that we have a car.)
    8) Second floor.
    9) Owner seems standoffish.
    10) Right across the street from a grocery store.

    FIRST APARTMENT
    Cons:
    1) Husband/wife ownership (Live in Brooklyn Heights) but the wife’s mother lives on the second floor).
    2) We told them we only had two cats.
    3) Not as close to a train as the other one.
    4) 3rd floor walk up. Moving in will suck.
    5) The set up is odd for visitors. If we use the second bedroom as an office AND a guest room, the visitor might have to walk through our apartment. Either that, or through the hall (which we do have the whole floor, so it’s not that weird).

    SECOND APARTMENT
    Cons:
    1) Kinda far out there. On the M/R at Prospect Avenue.
    2) There is going to be a business right below us. But the owners aren’t sure what yet. They said probably a bagel joint but who knows. I worry about smells.
    3) We face a grocery store sign.
    4) The foyer is rather tight. Could possibly make for a difficult move-in.
    5) Big, but not as big. But still, very big.

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  19. Hrm. Both sound really nice. I think the second apartment had more pros than the first, and it sounded nice!

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  20. How interesting, I was/am sort of leaning towards the first one. I have no idea why, tho. I think it has something to do with seeing an apartment at night instead of during the day. Which is what we did for the second one. And it was cold in there. (The heat wasn’t on yet.) I also think my hesitation came from some unconscious feeling via the smell of the place. It smelled like a newly built house which reminds me of moving as a kid. (Wow, I sound flakey.) But it might be why. Smells are powerful memory enhancers. :]

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  21. Based on the two you mentioned, I think I have to agree with Megan, the second sounds better. But I do understand what you are saying about the smells. For some reason I always tend to lean towards the older appartments. I really am not too fond of the cookie cutter type of places. Assuming that is what the second one is. I guess I just like ones that have their own personality is all.
    P.S. did you get in contact with my friend at all?

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  22. I have to ask, what is it about the second one, or not about the first one making you guys lean that way? I think Toby is doing that as well. I can totally understand why. :] Well, that one is ours for the taking. We should probably just stop looking and get it over with. I should get out of my brother’s hair, after all.

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  23. I liked that it was near a grocery store for you since you’ll walk that will be uber convenient in the winter. I liked that there was a lot of parking (convenient for friends/visitors/if you decide you want a car again). I liked that it has a lot of sunlight and that it was brand new. In my humble opinion, I would pay more to be happy and grow into your place, then pay less and possibly be unhappy in a year or two.

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  24. Plus, the cons of the first one were too much (for me). I’d want to be (somewhat) closer to the train if I depended on it. Plus, I just pictured old lady yelling at you guys to tone it down during any sort of wild romps.

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  25. I would think that being on top of commercial establishment would suck. I know mihow is hard of hearing so noise may not be a big deal, but you will probably have all sorts of off-hours traffic if it’s a bagel place (for baking/delivery,etc), and that means lots of strangers buzzing around. Also, there is no guarantee what you will get down there, and you may have to deal with smells, etc.

    A 3rd floor walk-up only sucks when it comes to moving, otherwise it’s not that bad. However, there are so many alarms going off for me for Apt 1 that I would avoid it.

    Regrettably, my advice is if you don’t love #2, then keep looking. My concerns about it are all possible problems, not immediate issues.

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  26. A ten-minute walk to the train is totally doable—that’s my trek to & from the Green Line every day, and I hardly even notice it anymore, even when it’s cold. But that depends on which line you’re talking about. If it’s a 10 minute walk to the L, that seems like a no-brainer. If it’s 10 minutes to the G and 20 to the L, I’d be more inclined to consider the other apartment (based on transportation alone, obviously).

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  27. I feel your pain. Well, maybe I can’t exactly feel how bad the pain is, because DC housing prices are not as bad but they are still bad! I live in a STUDIO and, were I to rent it, I would have to charge over $1000 just to cover the mortgage and condo fee. I seriously do not understand how people with kids do it. I guess this is why they all leave and go live in the ghastly suburbs.

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  28. I know exactly where you are coming from chanelbaby. We are dealing with the exact same issue living in San Francisco. And we have a kid. The prices out here are way beyond DC. We lived in DC prior to moving out here….we are having so much trouble buying in the city that we are actually thinking about the suburbs. Shudder

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  29. The dreadful suburbs. Yikes. People with kids move to places like Alabama from D.C. At least that’s what my older brother did.

    I’m so torn on this, I can’t see straight. :] (Only not really.) I fear the smells, certainly. I also fear a possible angry mother-in-law (I base this on no evidence, whatsoever, btw. Just my imagination running wild.) Ugh. I should flip a coin.

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  30. I keep picturing them opening a bar below us and me becoming Faye Dunaway in Barfly and Toby murdering smokers who take to the streets due to NY’s new smoking laws.

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  31. Charlotte, NC is sounding better and better. Greg and I actually just got back from NYC. We had a blast. I love the city, and at one time deparatley wanted to live there, but after this trip, I do love home. I didn’t know you would be in NY so soon. We could have hooked up. I am going to try to go up again this summer with some friends. We were looking at some real estate in the paper up there just for kicks, holy shit it’s expensive!!

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  32. I say take the first one, but I always liked Greenpoint/Williamsburg and got creeped out by Park Slope (uptight people & baby strollers abound). What about Ft.Green?

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  33. We picked one.

    ::drum roll::

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  34. I hope it has enough room for us and our dog to visit. Often.

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