Okay, guys. This post is the wildest story you’ve ever heard in your entire life. Please buckle your seatbelts, pop your popcorn, and keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times. As if to spite me for the article I published last month during my grueling apartment search in New York City, the rest of my moving experience was equally as terrible.
When I last checked in with you guys, I had placed a deposit down for an apartment in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. I filed all of the required applications, paid the application fees, and paid the deposit equal to one month’s rent. The whole ordeal cost me over $1000. I was approved for the room by June 9, 2017. For the rest of the month of June, I was feeling a little bit like I was transcendent–like I’d reached a whole new level of adulting. I’d found an apartment nearly a whole month before I had to move. During my previous moves, I’d found a place within the last two weeks of my lease and moved like I was outrunning a tornado.
I kept in close contact with my real estate agent. I’ve known enough people to be screwed over by the notoriously fickle real estate market in New York. My real estate agent did not indicate that anything was amiss. She connected me with a couple of potential roommates who were uncomfortable signing a lease with a bunch of strangers. I didn’t blame them, so I texted and took their calls in stride.
After the fifteenth of the month, the second most common day for leases to begin, I began contacting my agent for information about the lease signing. I texted her every other day at first. She insisted that the lease signing would be held during the last few days of June. The twentieth rolled around. Still no information. The twenty-fifth. Nothing. I began to become very worried. I was used to having signed leases by the twenty-fifth and access by the twenty-seventh. She assured me everything was okay, and I was already out $1000 with this woman, so I went on.
On the afternoon of June 29th, my agent called me. She told me that something had happened to make the apartment fall through. She told me that the previous tenants of the space paid the entire year up front to keep the apartment and effectively boxed me out. She told me that she had access to another property for which I had already been pre-approved and would have no issues moving in to. After a fairly intense panic attack, I hopped on the downtown bound number 1 train and made my way to Prospect Heights. I saw the second unit, which was comparable to the first in terms of amenities and price. I agreed to the space, frazzled by the fact that my landlord had informed my roommate and me that the rental inspection would be held promptly on July 1 at 8 am. The apartment was required to be vacant during the inspection. I informed her of all of this. She assured me it would work out.
On the morning of July thirtieth, I wasted no time. I woke early and began packing all of my belongings away. If, as my agent had promised, the lease was ready for signing today, I would conceivably be able to move that evening and remove the stress of moving in the early morning. I checked in with my agent every few hours. She assured me over and over again that everything would work out and that she would have a prepared lease by end of business that day. In my zeal to get everything done, I was finished packing by noon.
I alternated sitting on my couch and pacing around an echoing, too empty bedroom. It was not until 6:30 p.m. that my agent called me and informed me that the lease would not be ready that evening. I was audibly upset, crying in a fever pitch of pure anxiety. I reminded her that I was required to have all of my things out of my apartment by 8 a.m. the next morning. She assured me that the lease was done and would be available for signing first thing in the morning. I was unsure what to do, what to think, but I had little choice but to wait it out.
The next morning, I fell off the couch at 6 a.m. I hopped a cab to the South Bronx and waited outside of a Uhaul office until it opened promptly at 7. I drove the van back to my apartment and my friends and I loaded everything inside. We just made the 8 a.m. deadline, and I started toward Brooklyn. It was much more calming on my nerves to drive the van around New York City during the early morning hours on a Saturday. There wasn’t much traffic between me and my real estate agent’s office in Williamsburg. I was able to find legal, on street parking. When I arrived, I called her and alerted her to the situation.
She assured me that everything would work out.
My boyfriend and I waited in that van for the entire day. Every attempt to contact my agent was met with promises that things would be ready “soon.” She went so far as to blame the delay on Shabbat and the faith of the landlord. We waited and waited. I became hysterical. My mother, legally my guarantor, contacted my realtor and was met with the same level of frustrating uncertainty.
At around 6 p.m. that evening, my agent informed me that the lease probably would not be ready that night. She again mentioned the landlord’s Jewish faith and that it was unlikely that he would send the lease at the end of the Shabbat prayer–after 9 p.m. this late in the summer. She asked if I had anywhere to sleep for the night. I didn’t. I asked her what I was supposed to do with my things, with the Uhaul van whose rental agreement had been begrudgingly extended due to the bizarre and unfortunate circumstances.
The agent apologized and promised to pay for my Uhaul fees. Fat chance that was ever going to happen. I was ultimately able to spend the night in the home of my boyfriend’s parents. They luckily recently moved from an apartment to a standalone house with a driveway, and my Uhaul full of belongings was able to weather the night unscathed as well.
My boyfriend, unbelievably obliging throughout this entire experience, got back into that Uhaul with me the next morning without even a groan. Equipped with a handy amount of McDonald’s coffee and hash browns, we headed back up to that cozy Williamsburg street to await the signing of my lease. Being a Sunday, all the street parking was legal. It seemed as if the shop owners on the block had gotten to know us and we were never without a place to use the bathroom.
Sunday progressed in about the same way that Saturday had. Each attempt to contact the agent was met with “soon” and platitudes but without any real explanation for the absurdly long delay. My mother and I complained. Temperatures were approaching the triple digits and it was extremely expensive to keep the air conditioning on in the van all day long. We were never invited into the office.
Around 3 p.m. that afternoon, my agent called me and apologized for the delay. She told me that she could not promise when the lease will be ready. She offered no explanation as to the cause of the delay except to blame other people. She told me how badly she felt keeping us waiting in the van for so long. She offered me a much cheaper, much less nice apartment in a different neighborhood to stay in temporarily. I agreed, simply because I was afraid Uhaul would never allow me to rent from them again after keeping the van for so long. My boyfriend and I moved all of my things into the apartment. There were three other roommates in the apartment, but I was not given any contact information for any of them, nor did I ever actually meet them. After all of my property was locked into the new room, we returned the van.
We had just emerged from the subway station after dropping off the van when I got the text. I didn’t recognize the number, but the sender provided both their name and their place of work. The message was in regard to an apartment I was approved for. I did not understand, obviously, being a foreign person and all. I called the number. It was a broker from a different real estate company, a rival company of the one my agent worked for.
The agent from this new company explained how room shares work, how agents are in competition to reach three tenants out of four or five to earn commission for the property. Apparently, as it turned out, my agent should never have been able to show the apartment I put down a deposit for in the first place as her company had already found three roommates.
Even though my agent should never have been able to show me the place, I had been approved by the landlord. The competing company was having difficulty keeping the final room filled, and they were calling to offer it to me. I agreed immediately. They told me the lease would be ready the next morning, and it was. I headed to their office–ironically located three blocks from my first agent’s office in Williamsburg–at 11:30 in the morning. I was met by an agent and two of my new roommates. I signed the lease and moved in within three hours. I never heard from the original agent again, even after sending emails to be reimbursed for my excess Uhaul expenses.
The root of my entire problem was that my original agent couldn’t bear to find someone an apartment without receiving the entire commission. She did not explain the situation to me–I may have even been willing to pay her an agent’s fee! Always ask all the questions. If something feels fishy, it probably is.
Luckily, there was no harm done. I’m living in the room I had wanted originally. My roommates are all really cool and we’re already on our way to becoming good friends. I had to live in a van for a weekend, but I’ve learned a lot about myself and about the real estate industry in this city.
Do you have any insane moving stories? Let me know all about them in the comments below!