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Finding a Rental Property in New York City

Regardless of economic downturns, the real estate prices continue to remain sky high in most areas, which makes it more realistic for many residents of the city to rent, as opposed to buying.

The New York City rental market can be particularly daunting for new comers, because it’s tricky to navigate, and unfortunately, there are a number of property managers that attempt to mislead inexperienced renters. New York City is also different than many other places in the U.S. because it’s difficult to locate quality rental properties. In other cities throughout the country, rental properties are abundant, but in NYC, they are limited and come at a premium.

Despite the challenges that come with renting an apartment in NYC, there are steps that even the most inexperienced New Yorker can take to make the process more manageable.

Set Realistic Expectations

The first step to finding an apartment in the city is to understand your expectations, and make them realistic. Take a careful look at your budget, when compared to your other expenses, and find a property that’s not going to leave you overextended and struggling every month. While real estate rentals are extremely expensive in New York, so is everything else, including food, utilities, transportation and leisure activities. Keep this in mind when budgeting. Finding a roommate is also a great option in New York City, because it can help relieve the significant financial burden of renting an apartment alone. In fact, many new NYC residents find it to be a necessity to have a roommate.

Take Advantage of the NYC Housing Lottery

The NYC Housing Lottery is funded by government subsidies, and while it doesn’t provide free apartments, they are significantly reduced in cost compared to standard apartment rentals. The apartments available through the lottery are very sought-after, and there is a set of strict requirements that must be met to be qualified, but it can be a great way to ensure that living in one of the world’s biggest cities is attainable. Most of the prerequisites can be completed online, which simplifies the qualification process.

Play the Waiting Game

Finding a high-quality rental property in New York can rely on the renter’s patience. It can often take several months or even a year to locate the perfect property, complete the application process, and perhaps be placed on a waiting list. Rather than rushing into signing a lease for a less-than-optimal apartment, many renters find that it’s advantageous to find temporary housing, such as a sublet, before signing a long-term lease.

Consider Using a New York Real Estate Broker

New York is different from smaller cities because the competitive rental market makes the services of a broker extremely valuable. Brokers can help locate prime properties that might otherwise go under your radar, and they can help with the lease negotiation process. Despite the advantages of hiring a broker, it is important to remember their services come with a hefty fee in most circumstances. Their services can be as high as 15% of a year’s rent.

Be Prepared

Since the New York rental market is so competitive, the best thing a renter can do is be prepared for the rental process. This means checking your own credit, and clearing up any inconsistencies or outstanding balances, and also bringing along letters or lists of reference when you meet the landlord for the first time. Most landlords are interested in leasing apartments quickly and to the best possible tenant, so if you’re prepared right away to show you’re a great tenant, you’re more likely to get the apartment you want.


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