Of all the hurdles that New Yorkers have to jump over in order to make it in this city, few can be more daunting than the search for an apartment to rent.
Though the search can be fast-paced and expensive, it doesn't have to be nightmarish, and with the right preparation, can even be enjoyable.
The first question that many prospective renters will often ask serves as more than a reasonable place to start: "Do I have to use a broker?" In short, the answer would be, it depends.
If you're not working full-time, not working against a deadline (for example, having to move before a certain date), and are currently living in the city, then you may be able to get by without using a broker.
For prospective renters who do not have the time to search for apartments, or who are not living in the city and able to see apartments in person, having a broker who you enjoy working with and trust help you through the process can be invaluable.
Often, as you're already pressed for time to stay on top of all of your work projects, shop for groceries, pay your bills, and enjoy a bit of free time, there's not much (if any) time left over for looking for apartments and setting up appointments to see them.
Of course, you can scour the internet for the most recent rental listings; however, because you're looking to rent a place in a city with over eight million people, often, without the help of a broker working on your behalf, it can be fairly difficult to not only be the first to see an apartment, but also the first to have an application in for that apartment.
Once you've decided whether you'll work with a broker or go forth with your search sans real estate agent, you'll next want to touch base with all of the third parties who will need to assist you with your application. This includes your employer (if applicable) who will need to write an employment verification letter; your current or prior landlord, who will need to write a letter that verifies that you've been an excellent tenant who has paid rent on time; and possibly a guarantor, who will need to gather and submit all of the income verification documents that you'll need to provide as well (recent tax returns, bank statements, paystubs, etc.).
Once you've confirmed that your employer and landlord and guarantor will be willing and able to provide you with these documents, as you wait for them, you'll want to collect the same income verification documents (recent tax returns, bank statements, and paystubs) that you've asked your guarantor to collect.
Once you're armed with all of these documents, you've given yourself a slight edge on anyone else who hasn't compiled this information just yet. Because you've already prepared and collected all of the necessary documents, if you see an apartment that you think will work for you, you'll be able to apply on the spot, and won't have to worry as much about someone else applying while you're still getting your ducks in a row, so to speak.
While the New York City real estate market can move quickly, it's important to never move at a pace that feels uncomfortable. Because searches can take longer than expected, and because complications can always arise, if you can, maintain a plan B and C for where to stay while you look for the right place.
Though the process can feel overwhelming, adequate preparation is an antidote that always has and always will help make any search that much easier, and that much more enjoyable.