Finding a rental in NYC is overwhelming—it’s incredibly fast-paced and often expensive. We asked one of Trump International Realty’s top power brokers, to break it down and share her tips for landing an amazing apartment (without going crazy in the process).
Timing is everything
Since the rental market in Manhattan moves so quickly, you should start looking approximately 60 days in advance. Any farther out and you likely won’t be able to seal the deal. Most rentals start on the first of the month. The most inventory is available in the fall, however, it’s a competitive market because it’s the busiest time of the year to look. There’s less apartments available in the winter, but there are also fewer people looking then, so you could find a gem.
StreetEasy, a site that has the most comprehensive NYC rental listings, has really made things simple and transparent and will help get you on the right track. If you find that you are struggling with the process or you are new to the city and need more information, then it’s time to get a broker involved. A broker will walk you through the neighborhoods, explain the difference between a rental building, a co-op and a condo and help you get the necessary documentation together. A well-connected broker will also be able to show you off-market properties that are not actively listed yet.
A broker will cost you—but it may be worth it
Tenants pay the broker a fee that’s typically 15% of the first year’s rent. This amount is split between the the listing broker and the tenant’s broker. It is common for someone to work with several brokers at the beginning of the process so you can find out who you click with most, however, once you get more involved in the search, it’s good form to commit to one broker.
Management Company vs. Landlord
If you rent through a management company you are probably in a rental building, whereas if you rent from a landlord, you are likely in a co-op or a condominium. A rental building tends to have fewer fees but people move in and out more often. When you rent from an owner in a co-op or a condo, the building tends to be kept in better condition, because the owners are vested in its care and there is less turnover in neighbors.
Negotiate the details
The rent is typically negotiated—however, it really depends on inventory. When inventory is low, owners and management companies tend to be less flexible. The amount of money you should ask for depends on the size of the rental—on a one-bedroom, you can try to negotiate $100-$150 off of your monthly rent. If inventory is high, you can negotiate your move-in date. Typically, leases are one year long, and you should make sure to get an option for the second year so that you have built-in flexibility.
Set aside money for the security deposit
If you are renting a furnished apartment, the owners will typically ask for two months rent as a security deposit. If it’s an unfurnished apartment, one month’s rent is standard. It will say in your lease when your deposit will be returned to you, but generally you’ll get it 30-60 days after the end of your lease, once the apartment has been inspected for damage.
Do a drive-by
When your lease starts, the apartment should be clean and freshly painted. These two points are standard, however you want to make sure they’re clearly stated in the lease. When you walk through the unit, make sure all of the appliances are in working order and point out any major issues—like scratched kitchen countertops or floors in need of polishing. Keep in mind that everything comes at a cost, so if you are getting a steal on the rent, the owner is unlikely to start polishing the marble or buffing the floors. But if the rent is high, you should make additional requests to ensure the apartment is in impeccable condition.