No other city in the world has the most challenging real estate market than New York. Best known for it’s rising median rental costs anywhere from Tribeca to Upper West Side, New York can be stressful to any home owner looking to move in. In contrast to other states, most of the apartments, houses or condominiums available for lease don’t make themselves available in a month, which only adds to the challenge of securing a comfortable pad. Vermin, infestations, and a reliable super is just as important in your checklist as knowing the advantages of pre-war and post-war homes. Add to this the presence of aggressive real estate brokers, then this is one chaotic real estate market to conquer.
Even then, there have been reports that New York’s median home prices have begun dropping this 2016. Still, how does one smartly navigate New York’s real estate market? Here are five clever tips to arm yourself to win in New York’s real estate market.
1. While on the subject of identifying habitable neighborhoods in New York, get to know the borders around the neighborhood.
Each neighborhood is a colorful character as New York is home to a diverse group of immigrants. You might be enticed with the hipster culinary scene of Hells Kitchen, be lured with the idea of taking a jog around Central Park minutes away from your apartment, or live on the high-rise in Tribeca. While knowing which neighborhoods offer you the accessibility of nearby train stations, or neighborhoods where you feel is best for your kids, understanding borders around neighborhoods is an important part of the equation.
Found a 2 bedroom unit listing in Park Slope in Brooklyn for $1900? Beware as it’s probably too good to be true. The unit could be situated along the border of the seedy neighborhood of Red Hook. Brokers are notorious for redefining borders of neighborhoods just to lure home owners into thinking they scored a great deal.
2. It isn’t a subject of home hunting with or without a broker.
If you don’t want to go through the hassles of searching apartments on a granular basis, then chances are you will most likely need a broker. While they simplify the home-hunting process, brokers can be sneaky, using bait-and-switch tactics to trick home buyers. Pricing these lower than the average and switching to a higher rental once a prospective home buyer inquires is a surefire way the broker is into bait-and-switch. Still, there are some brokers who could be helpful in your search and give you a good idea of the real estate market. The best way is to open up both options of having with or without a broker. Some apartments go for sale or lease directly by the landlord, which in this case is a win-win situation for you and the current tenant.
StreetEasy and Zillow have great mobile apps that you can use in your home hunting when on-the-go. Both apps show you if a place is being handled by a broker or the landlord. On the other hand, while it can be a gem to your search, proceed with caution with Craigslist as many have been duped into securing fake rentals with ghost brokers, but success stories offer a ray of light.
3. If the price is lower than average price, the unit is most likely a convertible.
One way brokers try to color their listings is pricing a unit lower than its average price in the market. A $5000 rental for a 3 bedroom unit in Upper East Village is highly unlikely, and if so, you could be looking at convertible bedrooms. Convertible bedrooms might not work for you if you have roommates as privacy can be an issue. You will be forced to put up pressure walls to halve one large bedroom, and inconveniently makes you go first on the first room before you can reach the second room. In this case, your $5000 deal isn’t looking good at all.
4. Consider moving in the winter or ending your lease in summer.
The peak season for apartment rentals normally occurs during May to August as many college students start their apartment hunting in time for fall classes. The rental market eventually slows down during winter when there is less competition in the fall, so landlords desperately try to fill in vacancies by offering rental discounts. Likewise, rental slows down during summer when many of college graduates end their one-year lease by then. With this on the table, move on to the fifth and most important tip in this real estate market.
When it comes down to the price, there are many ways to lower the cost, including finding roommates to help you stretch your budget in favor of splitting the rent. There are brokers who make awesome rent concessions, especially those who prefer to post their listing early in advance to secure professional broker fees early on. For some homes priced higher than the average but doesn’t seem to offer a cherry on top, negotiate to stay longer than a year’s lease in exchange for one or two month’s free rent, to allow you to knock several dollars off the monthly rent. You could also offer to pay several months of rent upfront than the normal first month and security deposit, in exchange of reducing monthly rent by several bucks.
As brokers are upfront with what they want, it is important to arm yourself with what you know and be aggressive with what you want. With these five clever tips, conquering the real estate market of New York doesn’t seem like a moonshot. Never hastily decide without getting to know your prospective apartment’s neighborhood during the day and night, and never settle below your minimum expectations. Remember, there is always the right home for you in New York City.