New York City is a place that’s been turned into a myth by the media and in entertainment
Think of how many movies have shown the iconic city, how many stories take place in its streets. It’s a city that so many people come to for a life beyond their dreams, to make it big in the Big Apple. New York is a city that so many people want to live in and be successful, which means that the property market for rentals is competitive and tough. For those who are moving to New York from interstate, there could be quite a few shocks in store for someone’s first time moving to a big city.
Firstly, you need to understand how competitive the New York rental market is. There’s a reason why rental costs are so high, and that’s because there’s an oversupply of people who want to move to New York and an under-supply for rentals. Also, the number of high-income earners in New York means that many properties will remain too expensive for newcomers. Landlords and brokers know that there’s a demand on properties in New York, and they also know that those without experience in the market can be taken advantage of. Brokers especially, as they can charge fees (Usually 12 – 15%), and depending on the contract you sign the broker may be able to double dip, meaning they can get the same fee from yourself and the landlord. To avoid this, ask to read the agreement upfront before signing anything.
Agents also advertise rentals that seem like “dream” properties that don’t exist in order to get you into their apartment block. Or they may have 10 plus vacancies but only make you aware of 1 or 2 of them to give themselves leverage when negotiating a price with you. Landlords and brokers will use any means they can to give themselves more bargaining power when it comes to rent prices, and there are some that are quite unscrupulous with their methods. It’s up to you to push and ask certain questions, to negotiate and work out when leverage you have to use with negotiating.
You may not want to go down that road, you may want to find something a little easier without needing to negotiate and find leverage for a better rental price. A different way of finding an apartment in New York, especially a no-fee apartment bypassing a broker, is to ask around your network, speak to friends, co-workers, family or anyone you know in or from New York. Some people will know their landlord, and of an apartment available in their building. If you’ve been asked to move to New York by your company, some companies have a relocation officer that can help you to find a place to live. Take advantage of the contacts you have and be willing to open yourself up to meeting new people. Someone you may know has a friend of a friend of a friend who has a friend who’s a landlord looking for a tenant, you never know who knows who.
There are scammers in the New York market, and it can be easy for someone new to the city to be scammed. Some common scams include subleasing an apartment that isn’t theirs, takes information from a random apartment listing and claims it as theirs to get you to hand over money without physically viewing the property and collecting non-refundable application fees while posing as a real estate agent. With these things, think about it for a moment. Does the person seem to be pressuring you to sign, to wire them or give them a cash payment, seems to be giving you an easy time and rolls over in negotiating, or is the property unbelievable for it’s price? Chances are you should trust your instincts and walk away.
When looking for an apartment, to get any extras or concessions you need to ask the landlord or broker often won’t volunteer this information. Some apartment blocks give you access to a swimming pool, health club or a bike space, but you won’t know unless you ask. Some landlords ask well above the price they’re willing to settle for, especially if the property has been on the market for an extended period. If you do a little research, you may find a property has been on the market for a few weeks (In a cold market) or a few days (In a hot market), and the landlord wants to be collecting rent as soon as possible. Knowing the landlord wants a tenant in as soon as possible can add a lot of leverage to your negotiation.
Moving to New York can be a hassle if you are unprepared, and for someone new to the city it can be a disheartening experience. The best advice I can give, beyond research, is to speak to anyone in your network who can give you first-hand advice or may have some information on a rental property. A helpful website that contains a lot of information on renting in New York is Brickunderground.com.