Ask Brownstoner

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On the Brownstoner Forum today, a reader writes, “I’m buying my first apartment and the closing will take place in a few days. Do I get a gift for my real estate broker?” With nine responses so far, the answer is a unanimous “No!” If we recall correctly, the listing broker who sold our apartment in Manhattan for us gave us a gift, and other commenters note having received gifts from brokers like a book about Brooklyn and a stress ball in the shape of a house. But this one comment kinda sums up the consensus about giving presents to brokers: “You got her a gift: 3% of the value of your new apartment.” If any brokers are reading, have you ever gotten gifts and what do you think of the practice?
Do I Get a Gift for my Broker? [Forum]

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Within a month or two of moving in to our house, we began noticing cracks in the paint along the molding along the stairs to the top floor. Our contractor at the time said it was no big deal — just a result of the stress of footsteps on the stairs. Although it sounds plausible, we thought we’d see if there was anything less benign that could be at work. Has this happened in your house?

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Our hallway floorboards are not in the best of shape. On the lower floors, there are a couple of patches where you can feel the floorboards flex a little when you walk on them, adding a little bounce to your step. On the top floor, they are more stable, but the whole hallway creaks a lot, which is not insignificant because it’s the floor where the kids’ bedrooms are and, as any parent will tell you, once your child is asleep, you want him/her to stay that way. So we’re wondering what people would recommend for both situations? How big (or small) an ordeal is this potentially?