17 great questions to ask before buying a NYC co-op or condo

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From our very own How to Buy a NYC Apartment guide, here are 17 quality-of-life nuances that are up to you to determine, as most of these aren't covered by your attorney's due diligence.  (Renters, most of these apply to you too.)

  1. Elevators: Are there enough elevators to accommodate the number of residents? In a tall building, are all of the elevators “local” or is there an express option to speed things up?
  2. Sublets: What is the sublet policy? Are there any fees? What percent of apartments are currently being rented out?
  3. Heat and a/c: If the heat and air conditioning are centrally controlled, what time of year does the building switch over? (You could be poaching/freezing for a long time.)
  4. Food delivery rules: Can meals be delivered to your door or do you have to go down to the lobby to get them?
  5. Amenities: Are all of the amenities included, or are there some pay-to-play options?
  6. Board personality: Is the board liberal or conservative? (Ask to see a copy of the house rules.)
  7. Bed bugs: Has the building had a bed bug problem within the past year, how was it handled, and what is the status?
  8. Pets: Even if you don’t want one now, does the building allow dogs? If so, are there any restrictions on number, breed or size?
  9. Washer/dryers: If your apartment doesn’t already have one, may you install a washer/dryer? (Beware of any answers to your renovation questions that include the words “the board approves this on a case-by-case basis.”)
  10. Nuisances: Are there any nuisances on the block, such as a nightclub that gets going at midnight every night, or a restaurant that exhausts cooking smells into your apartment? (come back and check at the appropriate time of day)
  11. Schools: What public elementary schools are in your zone, and are they considered “good”? (Even if you don’t have kids, your next buyer may care. Fair Housing Laws preclude your agent from discussing schools, but you can investigate on websites like and and stop by the local playground to ask a few a parents.)
  12. Neighbors: What kind of people live in the building? Fair Housing Laws prevent your agent from talking about the presence of families, retirees, or young party animals—so ask the doorman and/or sit outside the building to watch who comes and goes.
  13. Food delivery options: Are there enough restaurants that deliver to the building? (Check
  14. Location: Is your prospective apartment located in a less-than-ideal spot in the building? (See The 7 Worst Places to Live in  a Building)
  15. Odors: Are there any objectionable odors, ranging from cigarette or pot smoke to cat pee to strong cooking smells, that you can't live with? (Remember, everything smells stronger in the summer.)
  16. Trash removal: How is garbage disposed of—for example, can you leave it on the service stairs for pickup or do you have to bring it down to the basement yourself?
  17. Stroller transport: Are strollers allowed in the elevator or relegated to the service elevator?  

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