Every year in Mid-March, there’s a slew of apartments that come on the market and suddenly, everyone is looking for a new apartment. We, real estate agents, call this the “busy season” and it lasts right up until the end of September.
Many landlords structure their leases to end during this season because they know that the pool of people looking for an apartment is much greater than the slower winter months. This pool of perspective renters, is usually comprised of newly graduated college students, individuals moving to the city for new jobs, and families who will have a bit more time now that school is out.
Whatever the reason, if you’re moving during this time of year, it best to prepare yourself ahead of time to avoid missing out on your perfect apartment.
Here’s the 6 things you should do to prepare for New York City’s busy rental season:
#1 Find a good broker
Here I am! – But really, I can’t tell you how important it is to be working with a good broker. I know you think you can find a place on your own but the time, frustration and money you will save by using a good broker is exponential. It’s like going to court without out a lawyer, its highly discouraged.
Our job, as real estate agent, is to get you prepared for the process, find the right place for you in the shortest amount of time, help you with the application and negotiation and makes sure that all your needs are met and that you find your apartment with the least amount of hassle and stress.
A lot of people hesitate using a broker because of “the fee” but often, the fee that you pay gets you an apartment at a lower monthly rent, for a better unit than you could have found on your own. The majority of landlords only go through brokers because they want to have a professionally vetted tenant, so if you are trying to go the “no-fee” route, you will be missing out on tons of great apartments.
#2 Get your paperwork in order
Competition in the busy season is fierce so having all of your documents ready to go is essential to getting your apartment. Even before starting to look, these documents should be gathered and given to your real estate agent so that you can quickly apply for a unit you like and have the best chance on getting it. Most landlords require this standard paper work to apply for an apartment:
-Last Two Pay Stub
-Government Issues Photo ID
-Last Two Bank Statements
-Last Year’s Tax Returns
-Past Landlord letter
This list is just a general list of what is require. Some landlords may require even more paperwork, so your real estate agent should make you aware of all required documents for showing you apartments.
#3 Have your Monies in order
I always say, it’s a good rule of thumb to have about 4-5 times the monthly rent you’d like to spend, in savings. Expenses usually comprise of: first month rent, one month’s rent as security, broker’s fee, credit check/application fee and moving (boxes, truck, etc.). Having this money ready to go when you put your application in puts you in the best possible position to get the apartment because you can act quickly on any unit you like and as mentioned before, you have no time to spare when competing against other renters for the same unit.
#4 Be flexible
Because competition is so fierce, it’s best to prioritize what you really want in an apartment. If location and size are really important to you, you might need to compromise a bit on aesthetic or having a doorman. Unless you have an unlimited budget, you have to be a bit flexible with all of your “must haves”.
#5 Do a little research
If you’re working with a broker (which you should be), they should be able to help you out in terms of prices in particular locations but honestly, it’s best to do a bit of research beforehand, so that you can set realistic expectations. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten the ” I want a 1 bedroom in the West Village with laundry in the unit and a doorman, for $2000 a month” calls. Requests like these are simply unrealistic ideologies set up by TV shows, like Sex and the City. Take heed of my advice to a bit of research, so you won’t be surprised to find out that, tiny studios in walk-up, no- laundry or doorman buildings in the West Village start at $2300/month.
#6 Prepare your Guarantors
If, for some reason, you wouldn’t be able to qualify for an apartment on your own (not enough income, bad credit, student etc..) you may have to use a guarantor. If you do need to a guarantor, make sure that they are fully aware that they will have to provide all of the information and paper you do (see #2). It’s best to have all of their paperwork ready to give to your agent before seeing apartments because again, time is of the essence and getting paper work in late is one of the main reasons people miss out on getting apartments they want.
I hope this list is helpful in getting you fully prepared at finding your next New York apartment. If you have any questions or are looking for a good broker to help you with the rental search, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.