Posts in Real Estate

Bed Bugs Infestation in NYC: Are You at Risk?

October 1st, 2009 Posted by Real Estate No Comment yet

Do you remember seeing the bed bugs advertisement on the subway with the close up pictures of the nasty crawlies? I always thought that bed bug infestation was a ‘developing country’ issue, and the advertisement was just targeting a niche and paranoid market.

Little did I know that we actually have a bed bug epidemic right here in New York City! What is this? Should bugs fighting be another item on my daily household chores?

Check out which borough is the most infested here. (Phew, luckily I live in a ‘least buggy neigborhoods’). However, do note the flaw in the study as they quote absolute numbers and not percentage, which can make the bug problems in densely populated boroughs look worse that it is.

And if you are one of the many New Yorkers who put the bulk of your world possessions or winter wardrobe or baby stuff in storage (third party or your building), you got to read this. They are everywhere! Learn how to protect your stuff.

Bugs, please be gone! Move to the next state.

(Bed bug picture by unknown, this is the only picture on Farting Camel not taken by Mira.)

Copyright 2009 by

Sure Fire Way to Find Your Dream Apartment in NYC!

September 18th, 2009 Posted by Real Estate No Comment yet

MBA – ‘Management by walking around’ was actually a buzzword in management in the 1980s’. A study in organization behavior showed that managers managed the best by simply walking around in their company!

You are now entering the NYC rental market. You might be asking around among friends for rental availability or a referral for a good real estate agent. You surfed the net, flipped the newspapers. All is well, however, I think by far the most effective and cost efficient of nailing a rental is by RBA – ‘Renting by Walking Around!’

Note that I used the word ‘NAIL’. The best way to START looking is still the Internet and browsing through local ads. After the initial research, target a few neighborhoods and start ‘WALKING AROUND’ The best if you can narrow down to a few streets and avenues.

What’s in for you? As I mentioned in my previous article “How to Rent Smart in NYC?”, the agent fees is conventionally 15% of your annual rental (it’s negotiable). That is a huge chunk of change, equivalent to 1.8 months of your rental!

Yes, they are cases whereby using an agent might land you the perfect crib, and economical if you end up staying for like 5 years or more. However, for the average renter, the average tenure is like 2 years, spreading out the agent fees, it is like paying an average of $200 to $500 per month for agent fees. Now, if you can add $200 to $500 to your rental budget, do you think that it will make a difference? Get a much nicer place or keep the money for whatever.

Many rental condos in New York City offer market sensitive/adjusted rent as they usually have several units to offer. The condos normally have in-house management/rental offices that do not charge agent fees.  They call it ‘no-fees rental’. If there is no office, note down the address and name of the building and look it up on the net. These condos are highly visible (usually high rise) and you should have no problem spotting them in your desired neighborhood. And adding to the bonus, these buildings are usually newer, with facilities and have in-unit or in-building washers-dryers.

If you have targeted a neighborhood you want to live in, start ‘Walking Around’! Or do you prefer to pay an agent 1.8 months of fees to bring you there?

PS: There will be some buildings, which might still want to charge you agent fees, remember it is NEGOTIABLE!

UPDATE: A friend of mine used an agent to show her a few places, which are mostly walk-ups. The agent is charging her 15% of annual rental. She tried out my advice of RBA in her desired neighborhood and ended up in a high-rise rental nearer to the subway, newer and bigger with no fees! It would have cost her more if she rented the old walk-ups.  GO WALK AROUND my friend!

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Scams Affecting New York City Renters!

July 18th, 2009 Posted by Real Estate No Comment yet


There have been several scams happening in New York City this year. Check out this has been the article, “Renters Get Swindled and Scammed – NYC’s tough rental market can make scams harder to spot” published in New York Times on June 28, 2009.’s warnings:

  1. Do not send money/deposits via western union to anyone.
  2. Make sure you know who your landlord is. There are scams whereby the tenant pretends to be the landlord and flee after collecting the deposits. You might want to request some sort of proof, say a driver license, tax bill, etc. Utilities bills are not good enough.

REAL ESTATE | June 28, 2009 New York Times

Renters Get Swindled and Scammed

Good luck!

Copyright 2009 by

Why Invest In Off Prime Location In Real Estate?

July 18th, 2009 Posted by Real Estate No Comment yet

Have you ever heard of the saying that in real estate it is all about location, location, location? In theory it is always best to buy in prime location. This strategy is to guard against the downsize. When people talk about the downside it means what will you lose if things go wrong? We are here to tell you something different. This strategy as outlined below is for the long term. And it is best to act in this real estate market.

Real estate price rise and fall tends to be a function of the overall local market. The price will increase first in the prime area. After a short period when the mass majority can’t afford the prime location they would settled for nearby properties. The price will decrease in the reverse order. That is because when prices fall people who can’t afford the prime area will make an upgrade at that time. Although this percentage of people is very small the vast majority will never be able to upgrade because of the falling value on their own properties. The other source is the existing demand like renters waiting to buy, etc.

For these reasons the price on prime location will remain high even when the market starts to drop. So if you buy an off prime property in a peak real estate market you are likely to pay too much and you are the first to lose money. (More on page 2.)

Real Estate Negotiation Secret

July 18th, 2009 Posted by Real Estate No Comment yet

In real estate everything is negotiable. Sellers and landlords can ask any prices or terms that makes it profitable for them to want to sell or lease their property to you. It is up to you to determine what you are willing to pay for the property. How you go about determining what price or term is reasonable – that is another topic. The bottom line is that even the commission the agents charge in a real estate deal are negotiable.

Why? You have to understand the premise. At the root of the issue is price fixing. No government wants organized bully in their economy. It is not good for competition. Without competition prices would go up and the value you get from the product or service would go down. Not to mention a lot of unhappy consumers. If real estate agents get together to fix a “standard commission” they would violate fair trade laws. I’m not a lawyer but I do know that price fixing is illegal.

Now, most of the time real estate agent will tell you what is the norm or local practice. That is only a guideline. You don’t have to follow the norm. Why would anyone want to follow the norm? It’s only a guideline. As a buyer or renter you have competition. If you know what most buyer and renter are willing to offer it’s up to you to decide what you want to do? Give yourself choices.

Don’t think that the norm is standard, worst yet “fix”. This will prevent you from negotiating. It is not really a secret but I can tell you many times people will just accept the norm to be non-negotiable. You shouldn’t be one of them.

Original Post Date: February 22, 2009
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How to Rent Smart in New York City?

July 17th, 2009 Posted by Featured, Real Estate No Comment yet

Do Not Judge An Apartment By The Rent!

“Do you know anyone who is renting out their apartments in New York?” – It’s the time of the year again where New York apartments become hot commodities.

Yes, no doubt, the current economic crisis has dampened the rental markets and has brought down the rent in many areas in New York City. However, many people still finding it hard to secure that perfect apartment!

Renting in NYC could be a challenge especially if this is your first time in the city, with so many ‘noise’ in the market: diverse neighborhoods, various price levels, different kinds of buildings, lingos, fees, criteria, etc.

To make things easier for you, I came out with a list of criteria for you to think through before you sign on the dotted line.  This could save you a lot of time, headache and regrets and most importantly, get your dream apartment within your budget!

Rent smart by going through the following important criteria:

  1. Convenience
  2. Comfort
  3. Effective Cost
  4. Terms/Finance
  5. Case Study
  6. Rent Smart Checklist


How Far is the Nearest Subway Station?

One of my first questions in any real estate transaction in NYC is always, “How far is the nearest train station?” Wait a minute you might say, shouldn’t the neighborhood be the number one question. Yes, it seems like it but do you really want to stay in a fringe of a great neighborhood that is a dreary 15 minutes walk away from the nearest subway station. For those who haven’t been to NYC in winter, nope, it’s not a good idea. And you don’t want to lug home those OJs that weigh a ton from the subway station.

I have friends who rented great apartments in Manhattan that are a distance away from the subway station for pretty affordable rent. However, you will, and trust me, YOU WILL, take cabs in many occasions from wherever you are or just from the subway station back to your apartment or maybe you are just running late. May it be after the late night party, dinner, or just hanging out at your friends’? When you add up ALL the money spent on cab, you are just better off upgrading yourself to a much better apartment in a more central location. Maybe the cab money can even ‘buy’ you a doorman? Elevator? Gym?

Is it in Manhattan?

When I first came to New York, I had wanted to only rent in Manhattan (though I might have to eat less and play less). I ended up sharing a 2 bedroom in Queens, that is literally 2 mins away from the R & W train. It took me only 15 mins to get to my midtown office door to door, the shortest commute among my colleagues living in the upper east, midtown west, downtown, you name it.

Queens could be a choice when your activities circle around midtown. I paid 1/3 of the rent I would have if I stayed in Manhattan, that left me a lot of change to enjoy what New York has to offer, Broadway shows, great restaurants…

However, a point to note is that a lot of great restaurants and activities are located downtown. I hangout in Chinatown a lot (food!!) and it is a pain to go from Queens to Chinatown. Another point to think about. Where will you be hanging out? Brooklyn might be a choice if you hang out downtown.

The key point is, don’t just decide that you will ONLY rent in Manhattan or you will ONLY rent in Queens or Brooklyn. Rents in Queens and Brooklyn should be generally cheaper than Manhattan for the same kind of building. The savings could be worth it for some and not for others. You have to decide. And sometimes, you might be able to get a really great deal in Manhattan! I have friends who paid the same rent for a one bedroom in Brooklyn and two bedrooms in Manhattan.

For the same price, you might get a 4th floor studio in a walkup in Manhattan with a 20 year-old bathroom with squeaky floors or an almost new studio in Queens with granite kitchen counter top.  What would you choose? Read on.


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