up, up, and away

So it has been the craziest, strangest time in the rentals game I can imagine. Rents are not at an all time high, nor are fees, but the velocity is dizzying.

People are coming back to the city all at once, just like they left.

I always took a lot of pride in calling everyone who contacted me and giving them perfect service.

That is now HARD. People are frantically looking for apartments on a landscape that is uneven.

Two weeks ago I was searching for a place in Chelsea for some clients, agents were telling me they were swamped with offers OVER LIST PRICE, FOR A RENTAL. One even said BEST AND FINAL.

So it is not that there are no apartments, it is that big groups of people are all looking for the same thing, Everyone wants space to work at home still, some of the tiny apartments that people would consider are functionally obsolete.

Agents are also way too busy. I have heard this a number of times today, that people cant even get a response. I feel awful but I understand. Real estate is sort of clunky by nature, and right now we are overwhelmed. I am also showing a lot on the listing side and most of these renters are unrepresented.

Now you don”t need a tenants agent if you are perfectly qualified with a great budget. But I am seeing people struggle with qualification and I know if I was their agent I could have directed them and helped them.

The key. BE FLEXIBLE. Please . I see people stuck in a narrow groove of what they will consider, especially when it comes to location. Be open minded. Every single neighborhood in NYC can be a wonderful experience, I promise you. If your search is making you want to beat your head against the wall, change the parameters.

I worked with a lovely client recently, she thought she needed to move downtown, and what we saw was not inspiring. We found her a beautiful place right down the street she lives on now. It was meant to be,

Slow Your Roll: Real Estate is about Relationships

So if you are the average apartment hunter you probably think the more apps, ads, websites the better. I see this all the time. Renthoppers I am looking at you

Roxy the renter thinks: “I am going to come to NYC, race around from appointment to appointment and that will get me the BEST DEAL!”

Please please please if you can, SLOW YOUR ROLL.

So I have a very nice client with a very tough budget at the moment.

I was trying to find her anything!

I spoke to an agent who said, WHAT DOES YOUR CLIENT REALLY NEED?

I said room to do art.

That was more valuable than saying she needs a 2 bedroom that nets to 1600 with a lease no longer than 12 months.

That little anecdote shows you real estate is about relationships.

The best thing you can do is ANSWER THE PHONE when an agent calls and SPEAK not TEXT with them. See if you click. Ask them questions. Ask them if what you want is realistic or if you need to adjust your expectations. Ask them how they work with relocation clients. Ask them what they can do for you in a day, two days.

My client “Helen” trusted me to manage her whole search. We spoke on the phone a lot, did a few virtual showings, than did her whole in person search in 6 hours and she got her perfect place.

I am hearing SO MANY people who left during the pandemic trying to get an apartment remotely. BUT I am finding many of these remote renters are struggling. They have been away a year or a year and a half. The market has changed, the city has changed, prices are UNEVEN. If you have a tough budget or demanding criteria there is a limit on what remote showings can do, ESPECIALLY if you are unsure about WHERE you want to live. Or if you need to adjust your search based on your budget and what is available.

I’m not the perfect agent for everyone, nobody is, but consider searching for the right relationship, and then let that person search for properties.

How to make your real estate agent work hard for you

What is the secret to any relationship?

Communication.

It’s not different with a real estate agent.

Sincerity, honesty, loyalty. Say what you want and what you need.

I think just working with one agent is a great choice, that person gets to know truly what you want, and may even anticipate your needs before you express them. In NYC there are a lot of things that are not advertised online. Those can be the best deals. But if bouncing around and just seeing things listing online is your preference that is just fine. It’s ok to want to play the field.

Also WE ARE NOT ROBOTS. I know Zillow/Street Easy allows you to put in an appointment time but please, just contact us and see what works for us. We are people with families and lives, we are not working in the office of an apartment complex all day.

If you decide we need to immediately run across town for you, perhaps offer to pay for the cab.

Are you in a group of roomates? Please get everyone on one page with all your wants and needs and then have everyone together for showings if humanly possible. Groups of 3 and 4 should have one person co-ordinate paperwork ahead of time. WE ARE HAPPY TO HELP YOU GET ORGANIZED.

So there are now people coming to NY for internships. In traditional real estate these short term leases are a lot of work and hard to find. They will almost always have a broker fee because most landlords will not pay us for a short term lease. I am always super up front about this. Consider co-living or even subletting.

The other day someone offered to pay me to find them a furnished short term lease. I got a landlord to agree to convert a listing, got a list of what they needed in the apartment, arranged a virtual showing. All of a sudden they told me they really wanted something with no fee and blew up the deal I was working on in the dentist chair!

That is cranky by the way. Honestly I will now be more reluctant to help anyone looking for short term. There is an old and ugly saying in real estate, buyers are liars. Don’t be that person.

Don’t put an agent in the middle of your family feud! I worked with a family all last weekend. Everything was very last minute, and there was conflict that centered on the selection of an apartment. I WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO SOLVE YOUR FAMILY POWER STRUGGLE!! When parents and adult children are in disagreement hoping a real estate agent can magically be the mediator never works.

Tell us what is going on. If someone has an disability or emotional problem or mental illness we can adapt.

Just like you would with someone your are dating. Be clear about your needs. Be clear about your style of communication. Be reasonable in your expectations. If its not working out say so. Respect our time. Sometimes it doesn’t work out and that’s ok. Please if you say you are working on an application and you change your mind tell us.. Just be honest and respectful.

If you want to make the world a better place take a look at yourself and make that change.

I promise I will keep trying to make the world a better place and believing #kindness wins.

Understanding Landlords: The true “secret” to finding the best NYC apartment deals

Mario Salerno made headlines last year as the landlord with a heart. He waived rent for his tenants during the first wave of the pandemic.

So on April 15 we are seeing the most curious rental market ever. Some landlords are back to pre-pandemic inventory levels, prices are going up, concessions are vanishing. (I will miss OP being nearly universal.)

So what gives.?

There are three things that effect whether a property rents or sells–

PRICE

APPEARANCE

ACCESS

Everyone always forgets about access, but it is currently the key.

Each landlord has their own way of doing keys, applications, lease signings, payments. Some make it easy, some not so much. Don’t get me wrong, I respect traditional old school landlording, things were done for a reason that often makes sense. (Like a signed lease without money means nothing.)

But the easy to rent crowd is doing well. I had a lovely couple lose out on an apartment. Remember when getting a place was competitive? We are almost back there. Landlords who kick it old -school still have backlogs of inventory and frankly better prices.

I hate to toot my own horn, but work with an agent who understands landlords and you will get the most for your money!

The in-between time

So I have noticed that the “advice to movers” posts are timeless and the “state of the market” posts age really quickly.

BUT

I have this great desire to kind of explain what is going on now, because there is a shift.

There are still great deals out there. GRAB THEM. If you only need a place for a year there is still a chance to live in a FANCY building at a discounted rate, but even versus two weeks ago it is different.

Some landlords still have a big backlog of inventory, others all of a sudden don’t. I am seeing the bounce back in the bargain category. A month ago in midtown west there were still some large 1brs under 2k. Now not so much.

It really varies landlord to landlord. What people are looking for is different. Bedrooms for roomates are now doubling as offices and that is hard. Small studios linger. All of a sudden 3brs and 4brs are hot. I am seeing prices up 200-400 dollars in some cases. But some things that are hard to rent are hanging around.

So what I am seeing is an uneven recovery, it differs from neighborhood to neighborhood, landlord to landlord. I worry people will be frustrated that I cant get them what their friends got a month ago.

The Hunger Games

These are unique times in the NYC rental agent biz. Prices are lower than we ever thought possible . People are looking to grab the deals. Not everyone wants to live outside the city, we still have a vibrancy and sense of community that keeps folks energized and creative.

So now is an amazing change to grab the deal of a lifetime!

Net effective pricing continues to befuddle some. In some cases landlords will average out the rent which I think is good for everyone. I worry about how people manage a budget when they get a rent holiday three times a year but then have to pay rent the next month.

Qualifications are more important than ever, good credit is GOLD! Let me say that again. GOOD CREDIT IS GOLD. So if your are credit challenged tell your agent. Most likely they have a sense which landlords are picky. You may be asked to get a guarantor or use a third party service.

As you get ready to search, if you may need a guarantor, talk to that person about getting their paperwork ready. If your guarantor has their own business they may need a note from a CPA. Their taxes and financials may take a bit more time to gather.

So here is some good news. I am seeing low priced apartments rent much more quickly than any time over the past two months. Things under 2K are hot. One leasing agent told me she had 13 leases last month!

Viva NYC!

Will those bargain NYC rents go up next year?

I said I didn’t have a crystal ball!

So clearly a lot has happened since we last spoke.

Currently it is a renter’s market the likes of which has not been seen in years.

So why is getting the perfect place a challenge?

The prices may be lower but the system is the same. Landlords have gotten choosier. While the rents may be lower they are still looking for well qualified tenants with good credit and qualifying income.

Then there are the CRAZY pricing schemes. I actually saw a place that has a two year lease, with a 500 dollar jump. Where do you go when you are at the bottom of pricing? One of the thing that makes clients crazy is a lot of net effective pricing. That means the landlord is discounting the rent by averaging in free months, and the regular rent. Some landlords are beginning to average this over a 12 month basis which has historically been rare.

Tenants looking for long term stability wonder what the catch is. The truth is nobody knows what will happen in a year. People are coming back to the city for sure, but are they outpacing the inventory coming on the market?

The one little nugget is that we are going in to a time of year that less inventory came on the market, for the next few months fewer leases expire. That should slow the rush of apartments on to the market. For now if you are looking to rent, realize those free months are a chance to save, invest, even vacation. Try to budget to the gross rent and you will be sitting pretty no matter what.

Hunting for a New York City apartment: just the basics

So you are planning to move to New York City!

Congratulations. Now is a wonderful time to be apartment hunting.

Here are some things to understand.

Unlike almost everywhere else in the US, there is no MLS that everybody uses.

There are a number of websites, some from real estate agencies, some from media companies, but believe it or not there are apartments that are not listed on any public website, and sometimes those are the best deals.

Each landlord has their own style, and application requirements.

The most important thing to understand is the difference between open and exclusive listings. Exclusives work more like home sales do in most of the country. Properties have a listing agent. You can have a separate agent represent your interests. That agent can schedule your appointments, teach you about the market, and help you negotiate and apply.

There are also open listings, which do not have a listing agent. There might be a leasing office, or your agent may arrange access directly with the landlord. Again, unless you are someone who studies real estate companies, having an agent who is familiar with landlords is a huge help.

Many apartments right now are listed with a “net effective” rent. That is a rent that factors in a one time offer of a number of weeks or months free. The gross rent is the true rent paid, and the difference in the number can be pretty dramatic. The net rent is the average, and represent the value.

While we may not have an MLS we do have the Real Estate Board of New York, and agents who are members must co-operate with each other and allow the sharing of listings. There are a number of small agencies which are independent, those agent can decide whether to co-operate with other agents or not.

Many people begin the process looking at apartments online, instead of looking for an agent. That is ok. But if you truly want a smooth apartment search, I suggest finding an agent that you like and asking them to set up your schedule so you see a variety of apartments that suit your needs.

It is so common that people hit town with an idea of what they want and that changes. It’s our job to keep you on the right path, or suggest if you need to consider options you might not have though of, like a different type of building or neighborhood. When I meet a new client I have a pretty good idea if their wants, needs, and budget will work or if they are going to have a hard time.

I once spoke to a woman who had a daughter who had been living for a month in a hotel, unable to find an apartment. If you are planning to come search I advise having at least one weekday. Not every landlord allows weekend showings. I like people to have two or even three days. It is really hard to see more than 6 buildings a day. You get tired, and your decision making ability is stressed.

If you are moving to NYC, feel free to reach out. Suzanne Goldklang. Suzfindsnyapts@gmail.com or 929-429-040. I can’t wait to meet you!

What does net effective rent mean? NYC apartment rental guide.

So the most confusing thing to folks looking to rent in NYC for the first time is our tradition of net effective rent. This is a form of landlord concession, a discount or promotion for new renters.

Right now a large percentage of rents that you see on sites like StreetEasy or RentHop have promotional prices.

So a very typical net effective rent is one month free– calculated this way: Rent multiplied by 11 divided by 12.

So what confused people is that there is also a gross rent. The net reflects the value over the term of the lease, the gross is what you (usually) pay each month.

So what people ask all the time is…why can’t I just pay the net rent. I do see this with some very large landlords, especially on longer term leases, but is is VERY rare in most of Manhattan. Many landlords want to make sure the tenant is able to pay the regular rent not just the promotional price.

So my advice.. .think of that free month as a chance to pay down debt or take a vacation. I used to almost never list net rents, but now it is becoming so common and expected, fewer people find it confusing.

Moving to NYC? Want an agent who will have your back? Email suzfindsnyapts@gmail.com or call 929-429-0240.