If I had a million dollars…..
I would buy an apartment in Manhattan. The never-ending search continues for the perfect co-op or condo, for yes, less the one million dollars. Does it exist? Will we find it? Once we are there, will we like it? But most of all, can we afford it? The questions are as endless as the quest itself, and the hunt is part of the fun. But, that hunt is also exhausting. Visiting four to seven apartments during open house every Sunday is less than relaxing after a stressful workweek in New York City.
Those apartments add up pretty quickly. By number 25, I realized that the real estate rules in Manhattan are their own. In a nutshell, there are no rules.
“We don’t like your teeth and so we don’t want you to live in our building.”
“No pets, by the way, either. Or at least, no old, hairy, smelly dogs like yours.”
“And we won’t mention your overweight cat, or the fact that your wife is not Jewish.”
Seriously. In NYC, there is the complete right to discriminate during the co-op board selection process. Board members can, and they do.
Most buildings require a minimum of 20 to 25 percent for a down payment, and one to two years of mortgage and maintenance payments in the bank. This isn’t going to happen in this lifetime –– too many designer shoes out there. I might mention that monthly maintenance is usually priced at one dollar per square foot minimum, and often more, depending on building amenities. That would put a serious damper on my monthly fashion budget.
My husband and I currently live in 950 square feet and we have just enough room to get away. That might be a terrible term to use as a married couple, but everyone needs space at times. We looked at a Chelsea apartment that we loved, but it was only 700 square feet. No matter the location (one block to Whole Foods and two blocks to the subway), the cool Art Deco building, a roof deck with an expansive city view, and the right price with a low monthly maintenance (it was a co-op), we looked at one another and knew that despite all that this listing offered, it didn’t offer enough space. And so, we scratched apartment number 92 off the already dwindling list.Hence, our search has been focused on less fussy condominiums, which would require just ten percent down. Condos don’t care if your previous career was a porn star, but they are also 25-30 percent more expensive than co-ops, which means one thing to us –– LESS SPACE.
After living in small apartments in my single life, I feel not only the need, but the right to live in more than a cluttered doll house. Is it possible to stay living in Manhattan and own a practical yet livable space?
How long does it take to find the right apartment to buy? If we don’t, will we be forced to rent indefinitely?
And, so it goes on. Each weekend, I rush to the door on Saturday morning for The New York Times to review every Manhattan apartment in the real estate section. I dedicate all free time to scouring the web for new listings. Each viewing is more exciting than the last, until we actually see it, and realize that it’s just another dump –– another million dollar dump.
But, I am NOT giving up. I am determined. The perfect piece of Manhattan real estate is out there for us. This apartment will allow pets. Our future home will be quaint and very “Old New York” in a charming neighborhood. It will have a washer/dryer and bath large enough for two. Our new place will have enough closet space for my ever-growing New York wardrobe. And, who knows? It may even be less than a million dollars.