If you're shopping for a new co-op or condo, it's a good idea to get a sense of who your neighbors would be before you make a
decision to buy. The wrong neighbors could lower the value of your real estate investment and, if you're subletting, make it hard to keep tenants. While doing your homework, be sure to get to know any commercial tenants in the building. The convenience of a commercial neighbor like a restaurant, garage, dry cleaner or retail space could be offset by nuisance factors that you never even thought of until after you bought the apartment.
Defining a nuisance
Every store of any type can be good or bad depending on the owners, their interest in the building and its residents and their intent to adhere to the requirements of the lease, house rules and general rules of proper conduct and decency, says Irwin Cohen, president of A. Michael Tyler Realty Corp., a residential real estate management firm in Manhattan. Good stores are non-food related such as fashion and clothing, antiques, giftware, card shops, furniture and imports, small pharmacies, Cohen explains. Less good are generally environmentally impacting establishments such as bars and pubs, dry cleaners, groceries, coffee shops, restaurants, take-out food facilities and bakeries.
The definition of nuisance will vary from person to person. One resident might be bothered by the aroma of garlic wafting up from the Italian restaurant downstairs, while another welcomes it. But some general rules hold true. For example, light sleepers probably wouldn't want to live directly over a busy parking garage. Noise from the garage elevator disrupts my sleep as well as that of my guests, says one co-op resident who lives in a building that rents part of the basement to a company that operates a public garage. The garage opens every day at 5:30 a.m. and closes at 2:00 a.m. The garage also has a large illuminated sign that shines into my bedroom window.