When looking to rent in NYC, many quickly discover that it is very different than other cities. I often find myself coining Taylor Swift by telling them, "Welcome to New York!"
Here are the top 10 things to know when starting to plan your journey into the New York Rental Market:
1. Credit DOES matter. So many times as an agent you hear, "My credit isn’t good, but I’m working on it!" or "Well, credit isn’t that important anyways is it?" YES- it absolutely is. It tends to be the most important thing when looking to rent. It gives the landlord a good sense on if you are someone who pays their bills and if you pay your bills on time. Good credit is considered to be 680+. You can still be considered if you have a score of 650+ depending what is on your report. Have bad credit? Don’t fret! There are amazing 3rd party guarantors like LeapEasy.com or Insurent.com that can help you get approved! Or if you have a friend or family member that makes 80x the rent with 700+ credit, you could use them as a guarantor!
2. When an agent says that you need 40x the annual rent to qualify, it does not mean $40,000. Let’s do a quick example: You want to rent a 1 bedroom for $2,000 a month. You need to make $2,000 x 40 = $80,000 to be eligible to rent the apartment. Some landlords will be more lenient and allow for 35X the rent, but then you definitely need to have great credit (as mentioned in #1!)
3. It is NOT cheap to move. It takes some planning and saving to move in the Big Apple, as it is a big lump sum up front. You need to have a month’s security, first month’s rent, application fees, and a broker’s fee (if not, no fee - see #4 for more info!). You also need to put into account the actual cost of moving your belongings. So, even with a cheaper apartment you are looking at close to $6,000 up front. You also cannot rely on your current security deposit, as it can take up to 6 weeks for your landlord to return it to you.
4. Fee or No Fee Apartments?! HOW DO I CHOOSE?! Many people think the answer is simple- "I will only see no fee apartments." It seems like this is the cheapest answer. However, if you plan on being in your apartment for more than a year, this is simply not the case. Especially since "no fee" apartments tend to be about $200 more than similar apartments that do have a fee.
Client 1 is getting a no-fee 1 bedroom apartment for $1,800:
1 year rent: $21,600
2 years rent: $43,200
3 years rent: $64,800
Client 2 is getting a fee 1 bedroom apartment for $1,600:
1 year rent: $19,200+$2880= $22,080
2 years rent: $41,280
3 years rent: $60,480
By year 2, you have saved nearly $2,000, and by year 3 you have saved almost $4,000! Amazing.
5. The apartments you look at will almost always have work to be done on them. New York is an old city, and with an old city comes old buildings. From luxury buildings downtown to bargains in the Bronx, most of the buildings you will be looking at are pre-war and will need some TLC. Do not worry! Your trusty agent will be submitting a work order to your new landlord and will make sure that everything is in tip-top shape before you move in.
6. Having a Washer/Dryer In Unit shouldn’t be a deal breaker! Adding a washer/dryer to an apartment can up the rent by $200 a month. Is this worth losing your otherwise dream home? Having laundry in the basement of your building is almost as convenient and will save you a bundle. And, if worst comes to worst, you can always be a true New Yorker and send those dirty clothes to a laundromat! It will still be cheaper than that extra $200 a month to have the machine in your unit! Of course, if this is a deal-breaker, your agent will find you that amenity!! Just be aware the you are paying a pretty penny for that luxury!
7. Scared of a Walk-Up? Don’t be! How many times do you actually go back and forth to your home everyday? For the average person it is 1-2 times. Going up those stairs 1-2 times a day can save you a pretty penny when it comes to rent. Sometimes it will even save you enough money that you can do a 2 bedroom versus a 1 bed! That’s a mighty big walk-in closet for just a couple steps! You can also consider it a free workout, AND you are helping to save the planet by conserving energy!
8. WOOF! WOOF! MEOWWW!! Don’t hide your pets from your agent! It doesn’t help to lie, because your landlord will find out! Most apartments are pet friendly with a small pet deposit. And your agent will be happy to find you the purrfect place for your furry family. Please do not leave them behind- no apartment is worth that.
9. BE HONEST AND UPFRONT with your agent. We are here to help you. We will troubleshoot, get creative, and do everything we can to help you find your new home. However, we can’t do our job properly when given the wrong information. This will also lead to lost application fees which are non-refundable. Make sure to pick an agent that you trust and are comfortable telling the truth to: whether it be low credit or that you have a voucher. We are agents that represent fair-housing and do not discriminate against any renters!
10. Speaking of agents!! Is it absolutely necessary to have an agent when looking to rent in the city? Simple answer: yes. It is a common thought to think that this is something you can do on your own, that it can’t be that hard. However, I have met many disgruntled clients who had been searching on their own for weeks-months before they caved and decided to work with an agent. The final verdict? Totally worth it! Whether fee or no-fee! Bohemia agents take the stress and hassle out of the search. They know the market like the back of their hand, will help you avoid the scams, and will show you apartments that actually LOOK like their pictures.
All in all, Credit does matter and make sure you know the income you need to qualify! Or else check out LeapEasy.com, a great 3rd party guarantor! Save up and prepare for your move so you aren’t side swiped by the upfront move-in costs. Really look at the numbers before nixing a fee, walk-up, no washer/dryer in unit apartment, and be upfront and real with your agent! And of course… ALWAYS USE A BOHEMIA AGENT!
Most importantly…WELCOME TO NEW YORK! IT’S BEEN WAITING FOR YOU!
Check out more of Bohemia Realty Group’s Desiree Stock here!