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Real Estate

NYC apartment hunting tips: Experts weigh in on key issues

Finding an apartment in New York City is tough.

It entails scouring listings, calling brokers, scrambling to see 10 apartments in a day and handing over all your personal finance information — and money — to complete strangers.

To help you navigate the market this spring and summer, we asked area real estate experts for insider tips:

Measuring is a must while apartment hunting

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"Bring a tape measure with you," advised Caroline Bass, an associate broker with Citi Habitats. "Apartments look smaller when they're vacant and most people think they can't fit their items," she said -- but if you measure the space, you can plan where to put your furniture before signing a lease.

Make a BLT: Prepare your bank statement, letter of employment and tax return

Another way to prepare is by getting together
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Another way to prepare is by getting together your bank statement, letter of employment and recent tax return -- or your BLT, said Noah Kaplan, a licensed real estate salesperson with the Corcoran Group. Have your credit score handy too, he added. "If you don't have those items, you will have to sort of come up with them," Kaplan said. "It's very rare that building owners won't ask you for them."

Move money before you zero in on an apartment

If the funds for your down payment are
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If the funds for your down payment are in an IRA or other financial account, square it away before you start looking, Bass said. "Landlords aren't going to wait a week for your money to clear," she said. "They want to approve you and they want you to sign leases usually within 24 to 48 hours of your approval."

Don’t fear the real estate broker

Many renters are opposed to paying broker fees,
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Many renters are opposed to paying broker fees, especially since base rents in New York are so expensive, Kaplan said. But he advised to be prepared to pay one, just in case. "I would tell first-time renters that some apartments will be no fee and other apartments will be a 15 percent fee, which is standard," he said. "You never know what you're going to find, that you're going to like, and you have to be prepared to pay a fee."

Invest in renter's insurance

Andrew Barrocas, CEO of MNS, recommended investing in
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Andrew Barrocas, CEO of MNS, recommended investing in renter's insurance. "It's one of the least expensive things, and there are so many things that people overlook that can go wrong," he said. A basic policy will protect you if, say, "the toilet in the apartment above you floods and ruins your electronics system," Barrocas said.

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