If you’re beginning your first apartment search in New York City, you’ll likely have many unanswered questions. From knowing when to start looking to establishing your budget, Triplemint’s expert real estate agents can help you every step of the way. Read on for some of the most important things you need to know when searching for your first apartment in NYC!

1. When should I start looking?

The ideal time to start your NYC apartment search is 30-45 days before your move, but you can start researching neighborhoods and your search criteria 2-3 months out.

By viewing apartments four weeks before your move, you’ll have three weeks to find a place and one week for the landlord to paint and clean the unit before you move in, since most landlords do not start until they confirm a tenant for the unit.

Triplemint Tip: The last week of the month typically has the lowest inventory level!

2. How do I decide?

Before you start viewing some New York City apartments, make sure you’ve refined your search criteria. Focusing your search on a neighborhood or two will help, but also consider other factors like cost, distance to subway stations, your commute to work, noise pollution, apartment feel, and even proximity to laundry.

Triplemint Tip: If you’re planning to share your place with roommates, make sure you’re all on the same page about what you want. This will make your search less hectic and prevent any fighting before you even start living together!

3. What’s the difference between fee and no-fee apartments?

A no-fee apartment usually means that the management company or landlord is paying the broker’s fee. A fee apartment requires the renter to pay the broker’s fee directly to the broker. This could range from 10-15% of the annual rent.

Triplemint Tip: While some first-time NYC renters may shy away from paying a broker’s fee, it does save you money in the long run. Many no-fee rental apartments are in luxury or semi-luxury buildings where the cost of the fee is filtered into a higher monthly rent.

4. Do I need a broker?

A broker will find apartments that fit your budget and neighborhood criteria, and help you avoid the time-consuming and frustrating elements of NYC real estate. In a city where most people pay for grocery delivery, spending countless hours searching for an apartment in Manhattan is not the best use of your time or money.

Your agent will often have established relationships with landlords throughout the city and will be able to ensure your application is as strong as possible, with the highest chance of being approved by the landlord. Especially during the busy rental season, the value a good broker can bring to ensuring you not only find, but also get approved for your desired home, is essential.

Triplemint Tip: Triplemint’s agents have access to pre-market apartments that are not even listed yet, so you can find your perfect NYC home before others have the chance.

5. How much can I afford?

Most landlords in NYC require that applicants make 40x the monthly rent in order to qualify for an apartment. Only base salaries and guaranteed bonuses (in writing) count toward the 40x requirement. Keep in mind that roommates can usually combine incomes to meet this qualification standard.

Triplemint Tip: If you do not meet the income standard, you can use a guarantor or a co-sign service like Insurent, or pay a supplementary security deposit (depending on the landlord).

6. What is a guarantor?

A guarantor is a person (usually an older relative or friend) who acts as a co-signer on a lease. Landlords in NYC require that applicants have a good U.S. credit score and meet a minimum income requirement. People who do not meet these standards can have a guarantor co-sign on their lease, who must usually prove an income of 80x the monthly rent.

Triplemint Tip: Some landlords only accept local guarantors (New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut), but some simply require that the guarantor lives in the U.S.

7. What is the cost of moving in?

When moving in, you should expect to pay your first month’s rent, a one-month security deposit, and a broker fee that is equal to between one month and 15% of the annual rent (depending on the type of apartment). We recommend having about four months of rent in your checking account to ensure you are prepared to present certified bank checks at a lease signing.

Triplemint Tip: Be aware that you’ll also be hit with expenses for movers, furniture, household goods, cleaning, and other services. Triplemint’s agents can recommend services that’ll save you time and money!

8. What documents are needed to rent?

In order to get the best apartment in New York City, you’ll want to be prepared to submit your application as fast as possible. It’s important to have all required documents ready and on hand. Landlords typically want to see:

  • Photo ID
  • Bank statements from the past two months
  • Three recent pay stubs
  • Tax returns from the last two years
  • A letter from your employer on company letterhead stating salary, position, and length of employment (should be less than 30 days old)
  • Letter of reference from previous landlord

Triplemint Tip: If you’re using a guarantor, they will be asked to provide the same documentation.

9. How long does it take to get a lease approved?

The approval process takes anywhere from one to ten days, depending on the applicant and the landlord. Renters prepared with all of their paperwork will get approved much faster than those waiting on certain documents.

Triplemint Tip: Keep all of your necessary documents in a folder. That way, you can easily send them to your agent once you find the NYC apartment you love!

Are you wondering what your next step should be? Contact Triplemint’s dedicated client success team and we’ll help you get started with your NYC apartment search!