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Need to research your NYC apartment building? These websites and tools can help

Many New Yorkers are spending a lot more time at home, so knowing if your building has any open violations, planned repair work, or if construction is coming to your block is even more important now.

Austin Havens-Bowen for Brick Underground/Flickr

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Whether you're apartment hunting or just spending a lot more time at home now, becoming an expert on your own building and neighborhood—such as whether there are any open violations or upcoming construction work nearby—can help you negotiate smarter and manage life better in the pandemic.

Before the pandemic, annoyances like daytime construction nearby would not have been much of an issue if you were tucked away in an office somewhere. Similarly, buying or renting a place that has a lot of noise complaints is a bigger deal now. But thanks to technology, these things don't have to be a surprise when you move to a new apartment

Want to find out whether there a problems in the building or how much your apartment sold or rented for in the past so you can be a better negotiator? You can check the for violations and look up addresses on real estate information sites like StreetEasy, PropertyShark, and Localize.city. 

So, whether you’re thinking about moving and want to investigate your potential digs, or you’re just curious about the building you currently live in, here are some of Brick’s suggestions on the best sites and online tools to learn more about your NYC apartment building.

Discover the history of your building

Many apartment buildings in New York City are easily over 100 years old, so your place might have a rich history. To find out when your building was built, who originally owned your building, if it’s landmarked, and even what your block looked like years ago, read "How to uncover the history of your NYC apartment building."  

How much apartments rented/sold for in the past

Knowing a building’s sales or rental history can help make you an expert negotiator. You can get quick information on your building’s sales and rentals history on sites like PropertyShark and StreetEasy. Want to know more? Read "What can you learn from a building’s sales or rental history?" 

How your neighborhood zoning impacts your building

The New York City Department of City Planning launched a digital version of their Zoning Resolution last year, where you can find out the specifics of your neighborhood’s zoning and any recent zoning changes. There’s also an interactive Zoning and Land Use Map where you can find details like when your building was built, the boundaries of your neighborhood, and even flood insurance rate maps. If you want to take a deep-dive into your building’s zoning, check out "11 cool things you can learn using NYC's interactive zoning maps."   

Which public elementary school are you zoned for?

Living near a well-rated public school is important to many New York City parents, but just because there’s an elementary school on the same block as your building, doesn’t mean that’s the school you’re zoned for. The easiest way to find out which school you are actually zoned for, is to use the Department of Education’s “Find a School” tool on their site. (Pro-tip: Since school zones do change, double check by contacting the school's parent coordinator to confirm that you are renting or buying in your desired school catchment area.) If you want the full scoop on finding out what elementary school a building is zoned for, read "How to find out what is your zoned public elementary school in New York City."  

Is construction happening nearby?

Living near a construction site can be nerve-wracking, especially now that you might be working or studying from home, and after-hours or weekend construction site is also annoying. So if you’re apartment hunting, it's a good idea to check out your future address, and if you're bothered by late night work, find out if the site has permit to work after hours. The Department of Buildings' interactive map shows all current construction projects, including anticipated completion dates and if the site has permits for after-hours work. To find out more about DOB’s map, read "How can I tell if the after-hours or weekend construction work on my NYC block is allowed?" and "7 ways to tell if construction is coming to your NYC neighborhood." 

A site that helps you find out a bit of everything 

Whether you’re searching for a new apartment, or you’re curious about your own building, real estate information site Localize.city, which launched in 2018, has a lot of the details that you need to know before moving into an apartment. Just plug in an address into their “Check address” tool and it offers details on recent complaints, livability, noise levels, and how residents feel about living there. The site offers a different way to search from StreetEasy, the de facto search engine used by many New Yorkers to find rentals and sales—which offers a more robust look at past transactions in a building and comps. Your best bet? Check both. Read "How does Localize.city's new apartment search compare to StreetEasy?"