I Left Manhattan After 20 Years! + 5 Tips for Working with a Real Estate Agent

Woman standing in a moving truck.

It doesn’t seem real but it is. I bought a home in Brooklyn and officially left Manhattan nearly 3 weeks ago. I want to say it all happened so fast, but it didn’t. It took about 1.5 years for me to start the process after realizing that my life was calling for change. The pandemic did factor into my decision a little, but after 20 years of living in the heart of Manhattan, I really wanted to settle down in a place I could call my own. That’s when the hunt began! This blog is a compilation of fun videos documenting my move and mental state leaving the big apple. 

You’re probably thinking, ‘What? Why did it affect her mental state?’ Well, I can easily explain that. Most New Yorkers (whether native or transplants) will tell you that at 10 years you’re basically locked in. You develop a love-hate relationship with NYC and as much as you sometimes hate it, the thought of cutting the cord is terrifying. Manhattan is the epicenter of the world. Yeah, we actually think that. So the idea, for me, of leaving the “epicenter” where I’d been plugged in for so long was nerve wrecking in a way that had me at times physically shaking and questioning my decision. Was I doing the right thing?

I did a lot of soul searching to arrive at my final decision, and with time, I knew it was the right move for me. Besides, Williamsburg is literally a 10-minute train ride into Union Square in Manhattan. Was I kidding myself? This wasn’t a full unplugging, this was more like going away for college knowing you’ll be back all the time to see the folks. 

Finding good movers in Manhattan is basically like searching for a needle in a haystack, but somehow I spotted the needle. Pure luck! I’m so happy I worked with SEKA Moving. They were brilliant from the moment they arrived to placing the last box in my new home.

I purchased a condo in a building that is brand new construction, which means that there’s still a lot to do. My home is not yet where I want it to be…but the cool part is that it's a  clean slate that I've been able to customize to suit my personal style. So there’s a lot of that going on right now. I’ve been installing new lighting, building an expansive kitchen and center island, and working on many other decorative facets. I even experimented with wallpaper! Read all about that here!

If you’re in the throes of house hunting or buying, I know it can be stressful. I spent a good 3-4 months in the purchasing phase REALLY STRESSED and not acting like myself. Here are some tips that I think might help because in my opinion, having a strong alliance with your agent puts you on a path to success.

Top 5 Tips for Working with a Real Estate Agent to Buy:

1. Just as you consider your options with big purchases by doing price comparisons, do the same with an agent. Feel them out. Look at a few properties with a few different agents to see how they walk you through a home, know the area, and offer their expertise. You’ll quickly learn whose right for you and the superstars will shine brighter than the rest. 

2. Work with an agent who knows the area(s) you’re looking at. Or better yet, who lives in the zip code you’re looking at. They’re literally an ally in this purchase, so the more they know, the more educated and prepped you are. The best way to find out is ask for recommendations on what to do if you were to spend the day in this area as a tourist. Ask about the history, the culture, prominent residents, restaurants, bars, the scene and access to airports and shopping. If your agent can't tell you anything about life in this zip code, find one who can!

3. Just because you know a real estate agent or they happen to be your friend does not mean you should work with them. Sometimes friendship and business should not be mixed. It’s good to have clear communication with your agent and to be able to confide in them about your desires for your home purchase, but at the end of the day they should take you seriously, fight for your interests and make sure no mistakes are made. In my experience, friendship often blurs the line of responsibility. If your friend knows you’re going to purchase with them, will they work as hard for you as someone they have to be on their toes for in order to facilitate a smooth sale? This is just something to think about. A good friend might also go above and beyond for you. Most importantly, evaluate the situation. Remember, it's YOUR MONEY!

4. Inquire about your agent’s recently sold homes. I found this very insightful. One of the agents I worked with (when I was looking at Westchester, NY) had sold some really gorgeous upscale homes and it became very clear to me that she was a legit agent with lots of experience, a great eye and who knew about the best listings right away. 

5. Make sure your agent cares to get to know you. This is literally the most important tip I can offer. While I didn’t end up purchasing with the agent who was helping me look at houses in Westchester, she was so wise, adept and really understood what kind of home I was searching for. She got to know me stylistically and learned a lot about my lifestyle (by following me on social media, etc.) and worked so hard to show me homes she knew I’d like. She’s one of the best agents I’ve ever met, and when I’m ready to transition to the suburbs of New York, she’s undoubtedly who I’ll work with. A sense of trust develops when you get to know someone. When they care about landing you in the best home possible for you…well that’s a damn good agent.

6. Don't be surpirsed if your agent doesn't find your new home for you. The truth is it's probably going to be you. There's a misconception that the agent is the one who makes the kill and brings you the meat. Don't feed into that. Your agent will show you lots of homes to get you started...but eventually you'll most likely spot the house or condo yourself using a savvy skillset they've helped you hone. It doesn't matter who found it. All that matters if they helped train your eye and brought you closer to finding it. 




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