Things to Know Before Negotiating For an NYC Apartment

With the scarcity and the prices of apartments in New York what they are, it’s hardly surprising that rent is sky-high. But times are hard, and every little bit of scrimping and saving counts. If you find that the NYC apartment you’re considering dents your wallet just a little too much, you may just be able to fix that with a little negotiation and a whole lot of people skills.

Should You Negotiate?

Yes, you should negotiate by all means possible. Although rents in the entire New York City area might seem too high and immovable, it’s actually possible for you to negotiate rates with the broker. You won’t lose anything by it, and many brokers are willing to talk about lowering rent or negotiating other fees just to make the deal.

NYC Apartment Negotiation 101

Do your homework before going out to meet the real estate broker. Know the average rent for different areas, for example. It’s going to be a lot easier to negotiate and discuss terms when the broker sees that you know what you’re talking about and that you mean business. The broker has to see that you’re a serious client, and that you’re the kind of person who might just give him or her a deal at the end of the day.

There are two types of listings on the New York real estate market – open and closed listings. An open listing means that several brokers are racing to close the deal for a certain place, while a closed one means that only that broker has the rights to deal that spot. Open listings will be a lot easier for you to negotiate because the broker is in a hurry to close the deal and thus get his or her commission.

In the same vein, you could possibly lower the rent or other fees by giving the broker a sense of urgency. For example, give a figure for the rent that you’re willing to pay, and then offer to get the NYC apartment right then and there if the broker could give you that rate. It’s take-it-or-leave-it-now offers like those that get a lot of New Yorkers their apartments for less than they originally planned.

Factors That Can Affect Negotiation

Brokers look at certain factors that might make one more willing or more reluctant to negotiate terms with you. Your credit rating and financial standing would obviously be the biggest factor. The condition of your finances is directly proportional to your worth as a buyer or tenant. If you happen to have a good credit rating and a healthy sum of money in the bank, consider it an advantage (and don’t forget to point it out).

Having your paperwork ready could also make the broker more amenable to striking a deal. Ready paperwork and supporting documents means that the broker could process the deal quicker and thus get commission sooner. That’s usually motivation enough for brokers to lower rent or other fees for ready and eager NYC Apartments seekers like you.

Introduction to the Ways You Can Rent an Apartment in New York City

In New York City, almost 66% of all residents are renters, according to the 2000 US Census. This equates to an average vacancy rate of about 3% at any given time. Because there is always intense competition for housing space, the rental market in the New York area has characteristics you won’t find anywhere else in the US.

This brief article will introduce you to the various ways that most people look for rental apartments in New York City.

The Role of Brokers… It has been traditional in New York for renters to use the services of a broker to find their apartment. This is because unlike most places in the US, landlords in New York City rarely advertise their vacant apartments. They don’t have to spend their money on ads because real estate brokers are happy to assume that expense in exchange for being able to collect a hefty brokerage fee from the renter when a lease is signed. (It is illegal for an apartment owner to charge a fee to rent his/her own apartment.)

Most NYC brokers do not share their rental listings with other brokers because there is no true Multiple Listing Service (MLS) in New York for rentals that all brokers belong to. As a result, the market is extremely fragmented. Using the services of a broker to find an apartment is no guarantee that you will ever truly know about all the apartments on the market that fit your price, neighborhood, and size desires. Also keep in mind that if a NYC broker finds you an apartment, you will most likely have to pay a broker’s fee (commission) equal to about 15% of the first year’s rent. That’s almost two month’s of rent! Ouch!

FACTOID: Rental brokers tend to specialize in one limited area because New York is a big city and it takes too much time to go to all NYC area neighborhoods with potential renters. The broker’s convenience is more important than your convenience because Time = Money. Therefore, a broker will expect you to limit your apartment search to the neighborhoods closest to the broker’s office.

Because Time = Money to a broker, you’ll be shown a few apartments within the broker’s territory and will be expected to choose the least objectionable one. If you still haven’t found a home after a few days of service, a broker will lose interest and move on to a more urgent client. After all, brokers don’t get paid to show you apartments. They only get paid when one of their clients rents an apartment from them. Their job is to sniff out the most desperate renters, the renters who absolutely need an apartment TODAY. That’s the only type of client guaranteed to pay a broker!

About using “Free” Websites…

Budget-conscious renters like Craigslist.org and other free sites because there’s no registration fee to access the data. You can browse through perhaps hundreds of ads in Craiglist, with many of them sounding so sweet and tempting. But that’s the problem! You might indeed find many apartment listings with too-good-to-be-true rents, and guess what they ARE often too good to be true.

More likely you will find that most of the posted listings are from brokers, whether disclosed or not. So the “free website” becomes merely a way to channel potential renters to brokers. Brokers need to make their phones ring with potential renters. What easier way to do that than by making up listings that are enticing, then placing them where all can see them? You’ll make the call, and often enough, wind up paying a broker to find you an apartment. What did you gain by going to a “free” website? It seemed like a great way to find a “no broker fee” apartment, but you got caught in the trap.

There’s got to be a better way!

The Subscription way to find an apartment. A superior model…

What you want to do is find an apartment rental website that does the following:

1. Does not take any broker listings at all, only listings directly from landlords, owners, and managing agents.

2. Can guarantee its users that all listings are 100% No Broker Fee.

3. Has listings updates 7 days per week, and

4. Customer Support for any question or concern without any bias.

Doesn’t this just “feel” like the right way to find an apartment?

There are several such websites in New York, but only one that stands out because of the user testimonials and the yelp testimonials. It is the one that’s been around the longest (since 1995) and is the largest by traffic and usage. I’ll let you look in the “about the author” section to see which one I’m talking about.

There is so much more to say on this topic that can’t possibly be addressed in this article. To find out more on renting in New York, I highly recommend a free guide to renting called ” The Essential Guide for Smart Renters “. It’s got 20 pages of the best information to renting in New York today, even if you have credit problems, need a guarantor for your lease, or use government programs. You can find “The Essential Guide for Smart Renters” on RDNY.com’s website.

Good luck in your apartment search!

How to Find the Perfect Buenos Aires Rental Apartment – And What to Avoid

Luckily, Buenos Aires is a city full of temporary rental apartments. This is great for the tourist because you can rent an apartment for a week for the price of one night at a hotel. Also, apartments have full kitchens so you can save money by cooking your own meals. In addition, the apartments are much larger than hotel rooms, and you have more privacy then staying in a hotel.

However, finding that perfect tourist apartment in Buenos Aires can be challenging. At first you might be saying to yourself, well as long as it had a bed and it is clean what do I care? While that may be true for some people, if you are planning on staying in Buenos Aires for more than a few days you will want to avoid some of the mistakes I have made in the past when renting an apartment there.

After renting several apartment in Buenos Aires I now know what to look for and what to avoid. Below are some tips that will help you find that ideal apartment and make your stay in Buenos Aires more enjoyable.

Neighborhood – Make sure to ask exactly where the apartment is located. This might sound strange but many people renting out their apartments market their apartments as being in the desirable neighborhoods of Recoleta and Palmero when they actually are not. In fact at first glance you might think that those are only the two neighborhoods in Buenos Aires! But this is just real estate agents and apartment brokers tricky efforts to falsely expand the borders of the most desired neighborhoods in Buenos Aires. Recoleta and Barrio Norte (these two neighborhoods are usually used to denote the same area, with Barrio Norte being closer to subway stops) is the best place to stay while in Buenos Aires.

Palermo is also nice with cool new restaurants and hip bars, but for me the barrio still has a way to go before it is as nice and established as Recoleta/Barrio Norte. There is too much graffiti and dog crap (watch your step while walking on Palermo sidewalks!) for me to suggest staying there over Recoleta. While some parts of Palermo can be quite charming it is just too big of a neighborhood to recommend it as a whole. Unless you know the specific location in Palermo is what you are looking for, it is best just to stick to Recoleta.

Noise – I read once that Buenos Aires is the noisiest city in the world. After a night trying to sleep in an apartment on the street side of a busy avenue you will agree. Loud buses and scooters with no mufflers will keep you up at night or annoy you during the day if you aren’t careful about your apartment choice. The most important factor is make sure the apartment is not located on the street side of a building. For more quiet you want an apartment in the back side of the building or “contrafrente” as it is sometimes listed in spanish. Secondly, it is preferable to be on a low traffic street. But, I have stayed in apartments on a busy street before but the building was so large and the apartment was so far in the back it was actually very quiet. Finally the higher up the apartment the better, so look for an apartment on a high floor. However, I stayed in an apartment once that was on the 11th floor but it was still very noisy because it was on the street side. Therefore, the most important factor in having a quiet stay in Buenos Aires is look for an apartment on the back side of the building.

Rooms – In Argentina a one bedroom apartment is called a two room apartment. So don’t be shocked when you arrive and the “two room” apartment you rented is not a two bedroom, but an apartment with a living room and a bedroom. Likewise a studio apartment is called a “one room” apartment or “monoambiente” in spanish. Just make sure you are getting the right number of rooms you want when you rent, or ask for a floor plan before you decide to put down that deposit.

Bed(s) – The eyes can be deceiving is what I learned when I rented what I thought was a perfect apartment. I even went to see the apartment before I decided to rent it. But I was fooled by the queen sized comforter covering up two single beds pushed together. Now some people might prefer this if you are two people traveling together and you want your own tiny bed, however there were queen sheets on the bed so you would have to ask for two sets of single sheets and more blankets to have two beds anyway (which in Argentina may or may not happen). So make sure your check under the covers or ask what the bed arrangement is before you book the apartment because waking up in the crack produced when the two beds push apart in the night is not a fun experience.

Refrigerator – Many Buenos Aires apartments are small and sometimes the kitchen only has space for a small “dorm-style” refrigerator with a “freezer” the size of a text book that takes three days to make ice. This might not be a big deal to some, but I prefer to have a full sized fridge to make ice for drinks, and for longer stays to keep frozen food frozen.

Internet – Many apartments in Buenos Aires offer “high speed” Internet. But what that means to some people may be different to you. I rented an apartment once that claimed to have high speed internet and when I arrived it was slower than dial up. The owner was in Spain and wouldn’t increase the speed so I had to spend many afternoons at Internet cafes just to check email. Be sure to ask what the speed of the Internet is and if you don’t know what is fast and what isn’t usually a connection of 512 Kbps will be fine if you are just checking email occasionally, but if you are planning on downloading files and working online while you are in Argentina, then I would recommend at least a 1.0 Mbps connection or faster.

English – If you don’t speak Spanish, be sure to ask if the representative that will be meeting you at the apartment speaks English. Usually this isn’t a problem, but I have had instances where I had to conduct business in Spanish and while it went OK, if you don’t speak Spanish it might not go as smoothly for you.