Jerry Feeny, real estate attorney calls New York “a buyer-beware state.” Anybody’s who’s stepped out to buy apartment in New York is aware of the brokers’ and sellers’ propensity to skim over relevant points, leave out essential details, sugar coat hard-to-digest information and sometimes, lie flat out to crack a deal. Remember how you were told that a spacious roof deck was all yours to enjoy in absolute privacy, only to find out much later that, barring a small sliver that wouldn’t even accommodate a deck chair, the rest of the roof was common space?
Therefore, be extra aware of all possible loopholes and misrepresentations that are most likely to be thrown your way when you are dealing with sellers and brokers. And, when in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask plenty of questions. After all, it’s your money and you have a divine right to clarify all things before you spend it.
Legal v/s Illegal Bedrooms
Does your bedroom have lot line windows – the ones located on the sides of the building which may or may not be blocked by next door construction? Unfortunately for you, that’s not really a bedroom…at least legally, even if you’ve been bunking in it for the last decade and a half. Real-estate lawyer Adam Leitman Bailey explains, “To be considered a [legal] bedroom, a room must have a window that overlooks the street or a garden.” It should also have ample ventilation and natural light. Furthermore, if it was built after 1929, it must be at least eight feet wide and tall. Finally, if it serves as a dining room or has a passage to another room going through it, it doesn’t qualify as a legal bedroom. It looks like your two bedroom apartment just got downgraded to a one legal bedroom apartment!
Computing the Square Footage
Probably the most ambiguous area buyers come across when they buy apartment in New York is calculating square footage. This is because there are several ways of computing it and more often than not brokers and sellers simply eyeball it, especially since buyers rarely do the math. In case your negotiations depend on price per square foot, it would be advisable to hire an independent assessor to measure the place. Also, attorney Jeffrey Reich, of Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz points out that if the size of your apartment/property is 10 percent less than what was promised in the original floor plan,” you have the option of terminating the contract and recovering your money.
Building policies for Pet Ownership
When it comes to building policies regarding ownership of pets, it’s mostly a gray area. If you have pets of any kind, ask your management agent to get you updated bylaws of the co-op or condo which contain specific language allowing pets. It’s better to have this cleared in advance before you sign any papers, lest you are asked to give up your favorite iguana before moving in. And that’s not very nice at all, least of all for the iguana.