Thursday, March 29, 2007

finding a decent cheap appartment is a next to impossible feat. there is no such thing as a good deal in nyc. however, there is something called a good bad deal, which on completion should make you somewhat happy.

there is one thing i have noticed. hardly any desis will live in manhattan. and yes, they CAN afford it. but they dont. perhaps, they are smart and they know they should NOT be paying an arm and a leg (add a few toes from your other leg for good measure) just so they can sleep a few more mins. that too for a 100 year old pigeon hole (not even a new pigeon hole). and im not kidding about the 100 year old building. they renovate it a little, add an elevator to the building a doorman and that automatically bumps the price to a thousand bucks (in USD much more). but instead if you have a five story walk up (ie only stairs) and your apt is on the 5th floor, you can easily end up with a fit body and a fat pocket. (i.e minus a 1000 bucks) after a few days you learn fast and you realize the almost too good to be true deal is truly too good to be true.
newport in new jersey city seems to be the haven for asians. every second person is a desi, goras are in the minority. really, no jokes. but it makes sense, big appartments, view of the manhattan skyline, a mall near the complex, a gym, desi stores and restaurants, a blockbuster kind of thing (movie store). what more do you need, really?

neway, if you really want to move into a decent place in manhtatan which is in a more commutable area i.e near the trains. you have to go to a broker. they control the whole real estate market. im not sure how it works for a 2 bedroom apt, but for a studio if someone tells you they found a decent place without a broker near transportation, they are either lieing or have been lied to.
theres more, the tricky part is that i dont mean any broker. its tough enough that you are paying someone your other leg for doing nothing (well a five minute search on a database, really), but paying someone and not having the job done is worse. so the kind of broker you get is impt. the firm that the broker works for is impt. there are perhaps more than 50,000 brokers in the city. and you know how the broker will tell you that if you don't sign the lease now, the apt will be leased out. and usually its just a tactic. but in new york, this is actually true. getting an apt near transportation is like a trading game, sometimes its the quickest one who gets the apt and sometimes its the highest bidder. initially a broker will call you a zillion times and once they get their deposit, the roles reverse immediately. and like bombay everyone is out to make a quick buck, so read everything before you sign twice and keep a copy with u.

some days ago, we had gone to see an apt listed on craigslist which seemed too good to be true. many of the times pple will list their apts and leave out relevant information : lease term/etc. this ad actually had a picture of the apt, in a high rise building, with a doorman and elevator. and it was opposite the lcoal supermarket. so we called the broker and hounded him for an appointment. when we got there, the broker was this recent graduate been on the job 3 months ago.
and as one should know, every work place works like a hens pecking order. the newest hire has to rent out the shittiest apts. i.e gets the tasks that no one wants to do.
so wat was the catch? the studio was furnished.
at first i was like great, it has to be classy stuff considering it was a classy building and the person actually owned the apt, which happens to be worth a good million dollars or so. boy, was i wrong! the kitchen was extremely dirty, there was this antiquated furniture and a sad looking huge wardrobe and a worn out couch. and the broker had strict instructions from the owner that the furniture had to stay. so neway, i look around and go okay so umm wheres the bed. and the broker goes oh its a murpheys bed. (i have never heard of that) so i have a blank expression. she opens the wardrobe and there was the bed. so basically u have to fold your bed into your wardrobe every moring and fold it out every nite. who has so much free time?
was she kidding me? so then i did the i-cant-say-no-conversation and gave jhoothi tasali that i will call them back. i can safely say that i wont. ever.
i know i am bad. i feel sorry for the new hire. but im betting all my money on it, that he wont last in the real eastate business for long. its not for the weak. the poor fellow told me exactly how much brokerage fees (30%) he was getting and that 10% goes to his trainer who apparently has good connections.
sometimes i dont feel that bad either. i was passing by this huge clean looking building i was like let me go in and find out if they ahve places available and if so what is the rent. the management guy threw us both (me and my sibling) a lot of attitude and im not sure if he was a snob or just racist but whatever it was he had that condescending look that you cant afford an apt worth 3500 a month.
ok so i know i cant. but he doesnt have to be mean about it. so, i played along and when asked my salary i inflated it a bit (ok alrite fiiine a lot) just enough to see the sparkle in his eyes and change of tone. he made a bunch of appointments for me to go see places the next morning. and the shameless person that i am, i have ever since then avoided all his calls.
ok so i know its wrong. and i got a good scolding frome veryone for doing that and wasting everyones time. but his tone and look irritated me. ( i know, still no excuse) and it takes a lot to rile me up. and its not like this incident will change his attitude or anyting. hell, it may make him even more snobby. so dont learn from this lesson.
however, there lot of lessons i have learnt this week: be smart and dont let anyone take you for a ride, never buy anything which is on the lowest rack, if you smile at pple, someone will smile back, dont take anything on face value even those pple that look genuine and innoncent, time is money, help others but to the extent that you arent inconvenienced (sadly true but dont wait to learn this the hard way), however if you dont ever help anyone pls start, do one good thing a day you have so many opportunities to do so, know your neighbours, bargain, make new friends, know the workers at your 24 hour free delivery neighbourhood convenience store - it really helps, bargain some more, dont bump into pple accidentally on the subway especially during rush hour, try not to look like a tourist : pls learn your routes on the subway quickly and pretend that you know where you are going, remember funny incidents and block out the bad ones.
To be continued.


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