Almost a month since I last wrote?? What have I been doing? Well, I’ll tell you – amidst all the travelling and working and travelling for work, I bought a new apartment earlier this summer, and I’ve spent a lot of time over the past month getting it ready to move in, packing my stuff, and moving.

Usually when you tell people this, one of the first questions they will ask (at least in New York City) is how you found the place that you bought. Now, of course I had a real estate agent, but I had another indispensable tool: a website called StreetEasy.

I can’t remember who recommended this site to me, but I have now mentioned to anyone who even remotely shows an interest in buying a place in NYC. Basically, the site pulls in listings from all the major real estate companies, and you can search them.

It has some pretty detailed search parameters, and by signing up for a free account you can save your favorite searches and even have it alert you when new properties show up that meet your criteria. You can ask it to find places that meet your criteria and are having an open house on a certain day, save these to a list, and then print out a map showing all of them. When you’re looking at a property, it contextually displays other properties that are similar (in price, location, etc).

And when you find a place of interest, you can get details about the building, including what other apartments in the building have been sold in the past few years. For a small fee (I think $10 a month) you can sign up for the Insider account and find out how much those other apartments sold for. There are other benefits, but that was definitely my motivation for signing up for the premium service.

This feature probably saved me nearly $20K on my bid, because I could see the recent sale price of other apartments in the exact same configuration as mine. And when I no longer needed the premium service, they couldn’t have made it easier to cancel it.

Did I mention the discussions? Neighborhood stats? Posts about the impact of construction on the view from your prospective building? No, there’s too much to include here. I think this site is an incredible research tool with great data and an engaging, intuitive interface. I can’t see how someone could buy a home in New York City without it.

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