I want to talk to you about the biggest mistakes people make when renting apartments in NYC. Renting in this big city is like no other. It’s confusing, and it’s normal for first-timers to get overwhelmed, confused, and sometimes JUST GIVE UP.
It takes hours to scan the various listings, only to discover you’re not eligible for the apartment, or the apartment has already been taken. Many first time renters will choose not to work with a broker in order to avoid paying the fee, but then realize how terrible it is to deal with landlords and property managers directly. In addition, the paperwork needed to secure your first apartment is dreadful.
Even seasoned New Yorkers who have lived in multiple apartments and have dealt with numerous landlords and brokers are trying to find ways to improve their experience. The New York real estate make is terribly competitive.
So, hopefully, this article helps you avoid some of the biggest mistakes.
The biggest mistake is not coming prepared. You must be ready to submit your application the moment you find the place. You should have your supporting documents printed, and ready.
- Letter of employment
- Last two pay stubs
- Last two bank statements
- Tax return
- Photo ID
This applies regardless of whether you’re trying to reside in a rental, co-op, or condo. All documents should be less than 30 days old(recent). There are some other rules too…like the fact your income should be 40 times your monthly rent. You will also need to put down the first and last month’s rent, and a security deposit equal to at least one month’s rent. There’s also a broker fee, equal to one month’s rent, and other misc fees like processing fees, fee keys, and more. Essentially, you need to have a lot of money available. If you don’t have the assets or other income, you must have other incentives to make sure you get the lease. For example, you might need a guarantor who makes at least 40 times the monthly rent; or you have enough cash to pay an extra month’s security deposit.
It’s important the funds are available in a US account, because you’ll need to cut a check quickly. Many people lose their dream apartment because its already been rented out to someone who had all the necessary documents.
Credit score matters
Many renters aren’t aware of their credit score, and the fact it matters here. It’s one of the main factors that are used in the approval process. It’s important to be aware of it, and make it the best possible. Before you begin your apartment lease search, run your own credit report. You can do it online free. According to the FTC, everyone is entitled to one free report every 12 months.
Know what you’re looking for
One of the biggest issues is people simply don’t know what they want. If you waste time between several neighborhoods, you’re wasting your time – and ultimately, going to miss the ideal apartment. Have specific requirements in mind before you begin looking at listings, or working with an agent. Do not view something above your budget. Typically, you should give your broker a price range that is below your budget, so you can anticipate unexpected expenses. Another key important factor is having realistic expectations. You’ll never get everything you want with a finite budget. It’s all about give and take, and prioritizing what you can get.
Try to avoid renting in the summer of NYC
Finding an apartment for rent in NYC during the summer is the worst time possible. The beginning of summer is when many interns are coming to NYC and now you’re competing with them. There are increases of 20-25% between February and April, typically. Many landlords offer great incentives during the winter, like multiple months free, or covering the broker fee. If you’re willing to trek and apartment hunt in the colder months, there could be some financial incentives for you. Finding apartments during the peak season can be frustrating.
Choose the right day
Looking for an apartment early means you’ll see apartments that don’t align with your schedule. It’s important to line up an apartment that matches your intended move in date.
Applying for several apartments at once
When you apply to several apartments at once, you’re a less appealing candidate for landlords. Landlords can see how many times your credit has been run for housing. They view this negatively. It can mean that no other landlord wanted to rent to you.
Not choosing the right realtor
It’s tempting to email virtually every agent to find a new apartment. But it makes more sense to work with one broker. Most inventory that brokers have is shared amongst all of them. Few have exclusive listings. You really want to work with someone who understands your needs and has your best interests in mind. Otherwise, you run the risk of wasting your time.
Read the lease agreement
Say you finally find an apartment you love, you’re not done yet! You have to review your lease. You have to inspect the apartment before you sign it. If a landlord promised certain repairs, or to replace something, you have to put it in writing – otherwise you have no ground to stand on. New appliances, for example, must be installed before you move in. Leases could also contain “deal breaking” conditions, for example the landlord wants a 2 year lease instead of a 1 year old. Another popular tactic is forcing you to pay for heat, and hot water.