Apartment Hunting in New York City – Part 1

Following on from our previous article, here are some further helpful tips on finding the perfect apartment in New York City.

Determine Your Move-in Date

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Even though this is the easiest step it’s probably one of the most important steps because by having a move-in date already in mind you can carefully lay out your plan before executing it under ideal circumstances. You’ll find that, generally, most leases begin on the first of the month; but that doesn’t mean you can’t negotiate a later move-in date and have your rent pro-rated for that first month. You really do need to know whether you’re moving in at the beginning, middle or end of the month, because ideally you’ll begin your apartment hunt at least three weeks prior to your anticipated move-in date.

Timing is Important

You probably won’t have much time to decide if you do want to take an apartment between inspecting it and placing a deposit. Most realtors and landlords will assume you’ll make a decision on the spot, and if you don’t, they’ll move on to the next applicant. Know what you want, and be decisive.

Know Your Budget

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Know your financial figures; meaning, do you know what your income is after taxes? Remember that New York City taxes are quite high, with deductions including Federal, State, FICA, District and City taxes; in addition to any other company deductibles, like 401(K) and Health Care. All these could take up to 35% of your monthly income. For our example, let’s say you’re making $30,000 a year: that means you’re not making $2,500 per month – it’s more like $1,500 to $1,600 per month. The rule is that you should be making (before taxes) 40 times your monthly rent. This means that if you have an income of $30,000 per year your maximum rent should be $750.00. Realtors and landlords in Manhattan are quite strict on this rule, but it’s not as strict in other boroughs.

Do You Have a Guarantor?

If you have a friend or relative in the Tri-State area that’s prepared to go guarantor, and they make 80 times the rent, you will probably be accepted as a tenant.

Ask for Advice

Remember, don’t sign any rental or lease agreement before obtaining legal advice. You may be tempted to finalize the deal straight away but, if the apartment is worth having, then it’s worth ensuring your legal documentation is in order. Contact George Russo and Associates and let us help with your rental agreement. We’re your local real estate law firm, handling all lease and rental matters in New York City, Brooklyn and Queens. We offer obligation-free advice, so don’t take any chances. At George Russo and Associates we’ll make sure that your interests are protected and that all potential issues are addressed in your lease agreement.

Other Expenses

Don’t forget to allow for other expenses on top of your monthly rental: you’ll have utilities to pay, and internet/cable should you wish to subscribe. For budgeting purposes you should stick with the ’40 x’ rule, particularly if you plan on socializing, going to concerts and clubs, eating out, and generally experiencing all the city has to offer.

Search Apartment Listings Near the End of the Month

It’s generally understood that apartment listings are more frequent at both the beginning and end of each month. Most are available immediately, or on the first of the following month. By the end of the month Landlords are getting desperate because they need tenants in their empty apartments. You won’t find many good-quality listings during the month, so it’s wise to wait until about the 23rd of the month to start searching listings if your plan is to move in on the 1st or the 15th of the following month.

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