ABOUT.COM -- Urban Sherpa's Ten Steps to Finding Your No-Fee Apartment Rental
Urban Sherpa's TEN STEPS to Finding Your No Fee Apartment Rental:
A Guidebook to New York City Apartment Rentals
STEP ONE: MARKET KNOWLEDGE
Most people spend 3 to 6 weeks looking for their new apartment rental. Afterall, the average one bedroom walkup apartment in Manhattan in 2007 cost $2,548 per month. Meaning the average apartment hunter is on the verge of making a bare minimum $30,576 investment decision for the year, not including application fees, moving costs, or utilities which could easily total an additional $4,000 in expenses (based on $200 a month in utilities, and $2,000 in moving costs.) If handled properly, thoroughly and meticulously finding a no fee apartment can be extremely satisfying and rewarding as well as cost effective. Step one in any apartment search has to be learning a little bit about how the process takes place, how to find an apartment, and just being comfortable with the process in general. Doing research and learning about how people find apartments in New York City is part of making a great decision and finding that ideal New York City no fee apartment.
STEP TWO: FIGURING OUT WHAT YOU WILL QUALIFY FOR
Most landlords in New York City (certainly in Manhattan anyways) will only accept tenants who earn an income of at least 40 times the monthly rent, which means an $80,000 annual salary for a $2,000 per month apartment.
Credit scores are equally as important to most landlords and management company's with FICO scores needing to be in the 700+ range to qualify for an apartment without a guarantor.
If you do not think you will qualify by yourself, don't worry often you can use a co-signer or guarantor to help qualify you. Some landlords and management company's will require guarantors no matter what for 20-something year olds. Others will require guarantors to earn an annual income of 80 times the monthly rent (or $160,000 for that same $2,000 per month apartment.) Other landlords still simply won't accept any guarantors.
While every landlord in New York has their own set of rules and policies, its important to use the above guidelines as a rule of thumb and have your "ducks in a row" so to speak once you start looking for an apartment. You never know when that "Holy Grail" of an apartment is going to come along and sometimes you have to move FAST to get the right apartment.
STEP THREE: WHAT YOU WANT/CAN GET FOR YOUR MONEY
Now, that you have a better understanding of what you can expect for financial requirements, the next step in your apartment search is deciding what exactly you want:
Size or # of bedrooms and bathrooms (square footage)
Location or neighborhoods
Amenities (doorman, elevator, etc.)
Once you have done this, you are ready to begin your apartment search! Realize you should try and maintain flexibility. This is New York people! No one gets everything they want. So be realistic. Its good to have a "wish" list as well as a realistic list of needs, wants, and preferences when beginning your search. The more flexible you can be with all of your criteria the more likely you're going to be to find something exceptional and to find that amazing no fee apartment in the right location at the right price.
STEP FOUR: IRON OUT DETAILS ON YOUR CURRENT LEASE NOW!
If you're moving to New York for the first time this may not apply to you necessarily, but its important for obvious reasons to clear up current lease issues, before spending time and energy and finding a new one. Make sure you know what kind of notice you must give your current landlord. Make sure to notify your landlord and that you know what you will need to do to get that security deposit back. If you're moving out of a roommate situation and into your own place, iron out the details with your current roommates before looking for the new place. There's nothing worse than finding that perfect no fee apartment and then realizing you can't get out of your current lease.
STEP FIVE: FINDING AN APARTMENT
There are many no fee listing sites on the web, some offer listings for free others are subscription based. One's that require some form of payment to access tend to be of the same quality as free listing sites. Putting a price on something tends to make people believe they are being provided with higher quality, but this isn't the case! So don't be fooled. Exclusive brokers are sometimes the only way to see or rent apartments in certain buildings, but for the ALL the buildings and apartments in New York City where the landlords will directly with tenants go to Urban Sherpa to start and end your apartment search.
You can access comprehensive real-time listings free of charge at UrbanSherpaNY.com. Owner and super contact information, application information and the histories of buildings and landlords are all provided entirely for free. Sample search using Urban Sherpa:
1) Log on to www.UrbanSherpaNY.com
2) Scroll over the map and pick the neighborhood(s) you are interested in, the amount of bedrooms and your price range (feel free to leave any of these blank for increased search results), than click 'Search'.
3) Your 'Listing Results' will appear, scroll until you find an apartment of interest. You will be able to see the apartments' exact address, # of beds & baths, move-in date, and photo, without having to click through to the apartment's listing profile.
4) Once, you find an apartment you are interested in click through to the apartments listing profile. Here you will find:
-Owner, landlord, management company, building management and super contact information
-And much much more!
When you find an apartment you are interested in going to see, prior to viewing the apartment, you should review the owner's requirements to make sure you can QUALIFY for the apartment. If you do not think you will qualify by yourself, don't worry often you can use a co-signer or guarantor to help qualify you. Next is contacting the landlord and setting up a viewing appointment.
STEP SIX: BE ORGANIZED
Staying organized in an apartment search is important for so many reasons. When you go to view apartments, write down the exact addresses; take notes; ask questions. You never know when it will be convenient to reference this information. Remember, apartment searches often take many weeks. Just when you think your search may be over - you may have to go back to the drawing board. As a result, staying organized and being clear with yourself about your needs (or with roommates about preferences and wishes) is of the utmost importance.
STEP SEVEN: CONTACTING THE LANDLORD
After finding a listing of interest, CALL the number provided under "Showing Info" for the owner or super and SCHEDULE a time to view the apartment. The best time to see as many apartments as possible, unfortunately, is Monday thru Friday 9am - 5pm. Many buildings do not have doormen or on-site leasing staff, and without either of those options you'll need to rely on the supers, building managers, and other landlord representatives to view apartments. Like most apartment hunters, supers generally work weekdays with traditional hours. Sometimes there will be access at other times, either by open house or other accommodations made by the owner. However, taking time out of the week will definitely allow you to maximize the time you do have to view apartments.
After viewing the apartment, if you are interested in renting the unit, you should IMMEDIATELY CALL THE OWNER to get an application or download one from Urban Sherpa and compile all the necessary paperwork listed on Urban Sherpa as quickly as possible. Some owners will take the apartment off the market with only a completed application and application fee, so inquire as to whether this is the case for the apartment in which you are interested.
STEP EIGHT: APPLICATION PROCESSES
Problem: every application process is different. Solution: be VERY careful when going over application specifics. There are some general rules of thumb about all rental applications for landlords in Manhattan and New York City; the following is a short list of relative certainties:
1) Application fee: generally at least $50 per applicant sometimes as much as $150-$300 per applicant.
2) Necessary paperwork: completed application, letter of employment, most recent pay stub, most recent bank statement, last year's tax returns or W-2's, plus credit check. This is usually the minimum required paperwork, but usually enough to get the ball rolling when time is of the essence.
3) ALL APPLICATIONS ARE TIME SENSITIVE. Every landlord is different; some work on a first-come-first-served basis. Other landlords work on a 'best' applicant process. No matter the case, the application process cannot begin until the landlord has all the necessary paperwork.
There are two things to keep in mind always about the application process besides the generalities above: first, the faster the better. Apartments in Manhattan, especially in the summer, can be rented in a matter of hours – literally. Getting paperwork together, getting cash for the application process, talking to roommates, or guarantors, takes time. The faster this can all be accomplished, the better. Second, every application process in Manhattan is different. By consulting a resource, which lists what the landlord expects and looks for in an application (i.e. Urban Sherpa Landlord profiles), you can help give yourself the best possible chance of getting the apartment you want.
After SUBMITTING an application, make sure to call the owner daily (unless advised by said owner to do differently) to keep track of the status of your application. If your application is APPROVED, call the owner and find out to whom checks are to be made out and schedule a time for the lease signing.
STEP NINE: LEASE SIGNING
Just like the application process, lease signings are different for every company or landlord as well. They all have different policies, and these policies are far too different to enumerate here. The most important thing at lease signings though, is to make sure that there are no surprises. Lease signings can be a very stressful moment for you. After all, we are talking about legal documentation that verifies on average a $30,000+ investment. A lease signing is the culmination of weeks of work, stress, sweat, and big changes, in addition to at least $30,000, maybe as much or more than $100,000. As an apartment hunter you have two distinct jobs at a lease signing; they're easy, but very important. First, and most importantly, is making sure no one is surprised (including you). All "deal-breaking" issues need to have been resolved prior to signing a lease (pets, required money, guarantors.) Your perfect apartment is at its most fragile point at the lease signing. Everyone is combing through every single little detail, and if anything comes up that should've been dealt with before, guess who's at fault? YOU! Second, and almost as important, is the landlord will have very specific directions on how he/she would like the money, what time the lease signing is to be at, what other paperwork (ie. photo ID), or who needs to be there exactly. These directions need to be followed explicitly, and precisely.
STEP TEN: TELL YOUR FRIENDS ABOUT URBANSHERPANY.COM
Urban Sherpa was created for free, for the people of New York City, to make the apartment rental search process easier, faster, and more efficient. So tell your friends about this new free resource and keep the free information FREE and available to the public. Click here to visit www.UrbanSherpaNY.com RIGHT NOW!!!