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The Renters: All Lines Are Busy; Please Try Again

[On Monday's episode, The Renters were pondering the mysterious last words of the property manager at 10 Sheridan Square: my business partner may have already rented the apartment. Not a good sign. Nor were the freshly minted graduates piling into Tompkins Square Plaza. But every hour is the buying hour in Manhattan real estate, and so, they pressed on.]

Friday's marathon search, continued . . . By late afternoon, we were in a foul mood - hot and hungry. We just wanted the landlord to give us the 10 Sheridan Square apartment, already. Why play hard to get? J called the office, but no news, which left us still officially looking. Dripping with sweat, we trudged to the East Village, and saw an oddly-arranged apartment overlooking E. 10th St. - it was a triplex layout, with a kitchen-in-a-closet on the first "floor", a living room with sliding glass doors out to 10th St. up 6 stairs from that, then a sleeping loft another 6 floors from that. It kind of felt like one of those carpeted cat condos - you know, with the multiple levels on a post? We told J it was a maybe, though - we feared we had become apartment haterators, full of negativity, dispensing no after no for cosmetic flaws or less-than-perfect-locations.
After the jump, a breakdown and a breakthrough.

"Next up was a one bedroom for $2600 on the lower east side - ludow and rivington. The awkwardly-named Gotham Court turned out to be a shiny newish building with an unobtrusive street profile. We were let in by the listing agent, G, from yet another company. While the current tenant attempted to watch TV with four strangers discussing the merits of his bathroom design, J's blackberry chirped. She stepped into the bedroom to read the message, and visibly blanched. As G highlighted the many merits of the apartment (terrace, spacious bedroom, new kitchen) and we debated the location (subway far - bad; the cake shop near - good), J whispered the horrifying news to me: we didn't get our first-choice apartment at 10 Sheridan Square. The property manager had "discovered" (at 3 pm on Friday) that his partner had already rented the apartment that we had interviewed for just that morning. I squawked with righteous indignation; J shushed me immediately, redirecting G with a question about roof deck access. She didn't want us to appear desperate.

"G wrapped up his tour, handed out business cards, and gave us another application to fill out (note to agencies - if colleges can have a common application, why can't you all get your act together?).

"Our weary party retreated to J's office to discuss our (limited) options. We liked the Lower East Side place; but G couldn't process our application without a reference letter from a prior landlord. The chances of extracting that letter from our former small-time landlord over the weekend seemed slim - so the earliest we could find out about the apartment would be the following Monday. Our schedules would not accommodate another trip to New York until Labor Day weekend. Were we risking too much by only applying for the Ludlow apartment?

"In the end, real estate fatigue won out. We applied with G for the LES place; and took the weekend off. Little did we know that more drama would await on Monday.

"Monday morning, we began the telephone campaign needed to secure the required landlord reference letter. Before we lived together, my husband rented with roommates in NYC - and never had his name on the lease. No chance for a reference letter there. I lived in Boston, renting from a huge real estate management company. I called to try to get a letter, and was told to fill out another form, and that the turnaround time would be at least 3 business days. No luck.

"That left us with our former landlords in DC - a small management company. We were good tenants, so we were certain of a glowing letter. But - incredibly - their phone was inoperable ALL DAY on Monday. We set up a mini phone bank in the Westin Hotel - our home away from home - I worked my cell phone and a landline; my husband ran his cell phone and a fax. My mom tried to get through from Boston, thinking that maybe some mysterious phone line switch was out. My colleagues tried from DC. No one could get through - we feared the worst, that G would show the apartment to someone with all their paperwork in order and we would be stuck in Starwood hotel limbo at our respective client sites for another two weeks.

"Finally, at around 5:30 in the afternoon, the landlord's office picked up the phone. A letter of reference was soon en-route. Tuesday, we heard from J - we should appear at G's office for a lease signing on Friday! This Friday! (oh, and that we should bring over $5K in certified checks for fees, to be split between G and J. J earned it, and completely changed our low, low, LOW opinion of rental brokers - she's logged at least 30 hours with us in the last three weeks, pounding the pavement. G, nice guy and all, but he showed up with a key and opened some closets. J is circumspect - that's just the way the real estate cookie crumbles. But we are distressed on her behalf.)

"Right now, we are in a state of disbelief. It will only seem real once we have keys in our grubby little paws - and that won't be for another week, since the apartment needs to be cleaned and painted . . . I'll believe it when I see it."
· The Renters: GoldiRent Meets the Property Manager [Curbed]
· The Renters: If I Buy You This Beer, Will You Leave? [Curbed]
· The Renters: Broker Love and an Application [Curbed]
· The Renters: Will We Be Mocked? [Curbed]