Before you throw in the towel and submit an application, make sure you’ve visited enough to accurately assess how it compares to other apartments.
Pressure is on
The broker will try to convince you to apply immediately by telling you the place is in high demand and there are others people vying for it. That’s a classic scenario and he might be right, but be sure you’re applying on your own terms because there are financial drawbacks of applying willy-nilly.
Also, you probably won’t apply to just one apartment. More likely, you will apply for several apartments, hoping one comes through.
Be aware that each time you apply for an apartment you will have to pay a fee to cover the cost of running a credit check, which is about $75. That fee is usually nonrefundable regardless of whether you get the apartment or not. An additional concern is your credit rating can be negatively affected by running multiple credit checks.
Submitting an application
When you apply for an apartment, the broker will act as the middleman. First, he will provide you with the application. On the application, you’ll fill in personal information including your SSN, your work and relationship status, among other details. You’ll also include pay stubs, bank statements and a letter of employment. Once your application is complete, you turn it over to the broker who hands it off to the landlord or property manager. It is then up to the landlord to make a decision. The broker is not necessarily your advocate and often will have submitted multiple applications for different clients all bidding for the same apartment, so don’t expect him to go to bat for you.
What makes one application better than another
Obviously, you have a good shot at getting the apartment if no one else is interested in the space, your credit is stellar and your background checks out. However, if the apartment is in high demand and there are many applicants, the landlord will more carefully scrutinize your pay stubs, your bank account information and will likely check references and run a credit check. Landlords are mostly like to select the applicant who has the most stable financials, does not require a guarantor and who applied earliest.
In some cases, aggressive applicants will offer over the monthly asking price to make their application more appealing to landlords. This is an annoying move, but often effective. Rental inventory is in high demand in New York City and people commonly use these moves to seal the deal. Don’t feel pressure to do so because you can surely find one without outbidding other applicants. But, if you positively, absolutely gotta have this one, you might have to sweeten the pot.
When will you know your application was accepted?
About three days to one week.
Note: If you are visiting the city on a long weekend, your application might not be approved until after you return to your current residence. In that case, the broker will have to email or fax you the contract which you will sign and either scan and email back or fax back. You will also have to either wire or direct deposit the fees to the broker and landlord. This is more of a hassle than signing the contract in person, but your broker should know how to deal with the logistics. Just be sure you discuss this part of the negotiation and set up a plan for how the documents and funds will be transferred.
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