226 W 150th st.
45 W 139th St
40 Pinehurst Ave.
Photo By: Mathew Henry
By Bohemia Agent Michaela Morton
You don't need more than the beads on your brow to let you know it's summertime now. Pros: sun, sun, sun. Cons: sweat, subway pressure, and the stress of your impending move. The summer real estate market is, in a word, hot. Lots of inventory, lots of interest. So how should you navigate the search without getting burned?
Here's an insider's top five tips on how to beat the heat AND lock in the best deals this summer:
1 - Don't shop more, shop smarter.
There is no need, I repeat, absolutely no need, to be running around for weeks like a chicken with its head cut off. Timeline and trusted sources are everything. Since landlords don't accept applications more than 2-3 weeks ahead in the summertime, do nothing until six weeks out. I'm serious. When you start your search, use the most reliable sources. StreetEasy and Naked Apartments (or a blog like this, or an agent recommended by a friend) are great places to get a sense of what the inventory looks like, really, in your budget and at the time you're looking.
But I'm Type A! I need something to do! Perfect:
2 - Be like a boy scout and get your paperwork prepared.
Every landlord is going to need photo ID, proof of income (employment letter, last year's W2s & 1040, paystubs), recent bank statements, and credit check authorization. If you're making less than 40x your max rent as a household and/or if your credit score is lower than 680, use this time to amp it up or to investigate the possibility of a guarantor. Guarantors need to be making 80x the rent all told. I know, it's wackadoodle. But thinking about it early allows you it assess whether starting a lease is truly possible/preferable for you -- and to make sure that you are 100% ready to go. By the time you get on the ground three weeks out, apartments are going to be FLYING. Having your paperwork prepared in one PDF per applicant can be the difference between a happy marriage and the one that got away.
3 - Prioritize your wishlist.
I love unicorns, but I mainly work with horses. And while we'd all like a washer-dryer, an elevator, and a moat, it's important to know which one you really want the most. Lists are fun. Make them. Grapple with them. Fight about them. Do it ahead of time, and be ruthless. For example, I get blue in the winter; light's not a perk, it's medicine. So I'll go without a dishwasher and an elevator and I'll walk up six flights, but I'll never take a dark apartment no matter how sexy the stainless steel appliances. Your list is your map -- not to a faraway magical land, but to a place you'll love to live in, and can.
4 - Know your neighborhood.
Simple. Unless your budget is $5 a month, don't run all over the five boroughs trying to find a unicorn. If you're new to NYC, check out the public transport that runs near your work and places of interest, and talk to a few trusted friends who are familiar with our neighborhoods to narrow it down. If you know the city, but are looking in new areas, just block out a few hours on these extra long Saturdays to walk through your top pick neighborhoods and feel out what you like. Limiting your geographic area is a key step that allows you to get the best of what's on offer, and to work with an agent who specializes in the area that matters to you (for me, that specialty is Upper Manhattan, from 110th up to 213th).
5 - Work with a human who gets it.
Everything else comes back to this, honestly. You've all heard stories about sleazy realtors. You may have lived them (I sure have). There's no reason to work with a sketchy, pushy, sales machine -- there are, however, great reasons to work with an agent who's listening (see my blog post on the subject here). Good realtors find humans homes, and we do that by acting like humans ourselves. A good agent is knowledgeable, candid, and kind. If you know a broker fee is on the table, make sure you're paying it to someone you feel good about working with. In exchange, they'll work 100% for you.
If you want to know more about the process or are ready to get on the hunt, give me a call or shoot me an email anytime: firstname.lastname@example.org // 336-577-1379. We'll talk like humans -- and Type A's, it's one more thing you can check off your to-do list. How's that for keeping cool?
An actor, writer, and fluent French speaker, Michaela has a knack for connection and loves nothing more than making friends of neighbors and neighbors of friends.