Using data to find a better NYC apartment

Posted by Local Logic on Mar 9, 2017 10:37:28 AM

Frustrated with exaggerated listings and overhyped neighborhoods, we built a tool that cuts through the marketing BS to find better listings. Life is guaranteed to be miserable sometimes. Whether it’s exam season, tax season, or I-gotta-start-actually-going-to-the-gym-because-damn-it’s-almost-beach season, there are a few select times of the year that you should avoid at all costs.

The worst though? That’s indisputable: apartment hunting season. In Montreal (the city we’re from) there’s a government-mandated moving day — July 1st — during which more than a hundred thousand people move-in (and out) of their apartments. Moving day is filled with sweaty appliance schlepping, ridiculous traffic, and pizza-and-beer housewarming celebrations.

In a weird way, it’s kind of romantic. And yet the weeks and months prior are filled with mayhem: classifieds sites are filled with eager landlords, Airbnb arbitragers, renters nervously vying to fill their newly vacated rooms, and hopeful tenants desperate to find a good deal.

The steep competition leads to ahem… “inventive” claims about apartments and their respective neighborhoods.

  • Five minutes from a subway station” — when the closest subway station is five minutes away… by jet.
  • “Incredibly safe neighborhood” — when the apartment has only suffered a couple recent break-ins (because which apartment hasn’t?!?)
  • “Near lots of nightlife, restaurants and grocery stores” — when the closest Whole Foods is a half-hour away, and the only restaurant within walking distance is a 7/11 with a rotating hot dog spindle.

Actually visiting an apartment will dispel a lot of the exaggerated sales copy used in the listing: It’s hard to judge room sizes, ceiling sizes, cleanliness etc. from a Craigslist photo, but a visit will quell all doubt.

It’s not so easy to judge a neighborhood. When you show up to visit an apartment, you’re usually taking the realtor/landlord’s word about its location: is it safe, is it fun, are there amenities nearby? Most of the time, they’re telling the truth (fingers crossed ) but we figured there was an easier, more reliable and accurate way. So we crunched the hell out of your neighborhood’s numbers and gave it a name: Local Logic.

We built Local Logic as a way to get instant insights about neighborhoods. Whether you’re looking for a house, condo, apartment, or a storefront for your burgeoning wienerschnitzel empire, Local Logic can tell you all the things about a prospective address that normally would take weeks/months to figure out.

  • How accessible is a location by car, bike, walking, and public transit?
  • Are there schools nearby? Daycares?
  • How about public parks and greenspace? Are there lots of trees?
  • What is the nightlife/food scene like? Are there grocery stores within walking distance? Places to go shopping?

In addition to giving neighborhoods a grade on each of these criteria, we also make broader judgements on qualities such as “vibrancy” or “quietness” that help you make quick, reliable decisions about the quality of a neighborhood.

Let’s try some addresses:


338 Maspeth Ave
Williamsburg, New York

Airbnb’s neighborhood guide describes Williamsburg as an “artsy” neighborhood with great nightlife, dining, shopping, and public transportation. And by and large, that’s true!

However, not all parts of Williamsburg are cut from the same cloth. In the eastern part of Williamsburg, you’ll find 338 Maspeth Ave. Technically, it’s “Williamsburg”. It’s also next to a scrap metal plant. And it’s not exactly nightlife-friendly. Check out its Local Logic scores:

While it’s not a terrible area, the nightlife here doesn’t conform to the “Williamsburg” advertised on Airbnb. It’s also much less accessible than the rest of the neighborhood: it only scores 3/5 for walking, 1.5/5 for cycling, and 2.5/5 for transit.

Let’s try another address:

5–48 49th Ave
Long Island City, New York

Airbnb calls Long Island City “sprawling and somewhat barren”. Is that an unfair assessment? Well, it depends where you are.

The problem with neighborhood stereotypes is that there are always exceptions that disprove the rule.

5–48 49th Ave is actually a fantastic place to be, according to our assessments. Check out its scores on Local Logic:

Barren?? Says who! This location gets full points for its restaurant, shopping, and nightlife scenes. Despite being in Long Island City.


Conclusion

Neighborhood stereotypes are unreliable. Your prospective apartment might be a diamond in a neglected neighborhood. Or it a dive in an otherwise celebrated neighborhood. There is no way to know.

Making any real estate decisions — whether it’s buying/renting or even just visiting — ought to be informed by data, not stereotypes. Sure, neighborhood stereotypes are a much easier fallback than having to visit (and “test drive”) a neighborhood before moving in. Yet with Local Logic, we’ve eliminated the need for stereotypes. No street corner is the same — even if they happen to fall within the same neighborhood boundaries.

After all, what if you’re on the border of 2 neighborhoods? Do you get the cool vibe of the artsy area, the community feeling of the first-ring suburb, or a mix of both? By typing in an address on Local Logic (or one of our partners’ websites), you can instantly assess the qualities that matter to you: transit-friendliness, nightlife, and so much more.

Our hope is to make it easier for you to make informed decisions when you’re moving. We know how stressful it can be. A hundred tabs open at all times, tirelessly searching.

Well guess what. We’re (hopefully) the last tab that you’ll have to open.

Good luck with the hunt.

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Local Logic is currently available in NYC and Austin. To get Local Logic added by default to your local listings site (or Airbnb), request it on our wishlist.

 

Topics: US Northeast, All Cities, US

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