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VillageOwner - I love StreetEasy, but perhaps you should consider checking out sites like GreatSchools.org or PrivateSchoolReview.com for some other parents' thoughts on this discussion. I also just happened to send this article to a West Village client thinking about P.S. 41 last week: http://goo.gl/q5Nn7. My wife and I live in the neighborhood and thought this was a fun story about a program at the school.
Did anyone mention the fact that exclusive listing agents are going to be paid a fee whether the tenant chooses to use a broker or not? The 15% is often split between the listing agent and the tenant's agent. If the tenant doesn't have an agent and I'm the listing broker, I typically agree to go down to around 12% and may agree to do a bit more if we need to get the apartment rented ASAP for the owner. If we're talking about open listings (those from property management companies and owners that don't use an exclusive broker), the tenant's broker really shouldn't be paid more than one month's rent (in my humble opinion). To everyone that wants to completely avoid a fee at all costs: you're missing out on the best rentals in Manhattan - condos. Of course they're not for everyone or every situation, but to me they are generally the best choice. If you're going to stay 2-3 years, the net effectives and lifestyle value are almost always superior to those of rental buildings. There are probably 100 rental building owners and property managers in Manhattan that I wouldn't wish on my wost enemy. Good luck with those "no fee" apartments! Of course there are good ones as well.
Truthskr10 - I never seen such a clause in a multi-family mortgage. That being said, you did make a great point about legal issues: I totally forgot to mention that it can't be done with rent stabilized apartments.
Wbottom is correct that pre-payment presents a potential issue for the landlord in a holdover proceeding in Housing Court. I also agree with Fairway, that in my experience pre-payment is largely an alternative to satisfying the owner's qualification requirements. In the rare circumstance that the owner does agree to take the year up front, they will simply use the net present value of the payment. Expect them to select a very conservative discount rate (maybe 3%). I would also think that the likelihood of securing a higher discount rate would go up when dealing with a single-unit property owner (e.g. a condo) rather than a property management company. A single unit owner may benefit from the cash flow far more than a management company who 1) will see little to no benefit; and 2) may see the proposal as little more than an accounting burden.
As a point of reference, the Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment that was being discussed above is irrelevant in these circumstances. It doesn't mean what it sounds like colloquially. It's a covenant against defective title that basically promises the tenant can maintain possession of the property during the term of the lease without the landlord's interference in that possession. It's not a warranty for "peace and quiet."
I wrote an article with tips for passing a board interview that you may wish to check out: http://www.villageconfidential.com/ten-tips-for-passing-a-co-op-board-interview/
You might want to read this article: http://therealdeal.com/newyork/articles/co-op-seller-keeps-dead-buyer-s-down-payment
Most buildings will release their future inventory 30 days in advance or 60 days in advance. In my experience, most are 30. Try reaching out to the leasing offices in advance and getting someone's e-mail address so you can check-in with them (and don't rely on their promise to keep you updated!).
In addition to the economic risk that rents increase above your agreed upon escalation over a time frame that can't be easily forecast, it's a very bad idea from a property management perspective (assuming this is a new tenant). It's important that you "try out" the tenant for a year on a market rate lease, especially in a city with such a difficult eviction process. Depending on your circumstances (e.g. is this is a single unit property, how many do you have, etc.), the long-term lease could encumber your property in an undesirable way should you decide to (or need) to sell.
The vast majority of rentals offering OP's (owner pays the broker's fee) are in what many Manhattan consumers would consider the less desirable end of the renting spectrum with regards to neighborhood location. They tend to be in large buildings that are in the middle of their lease up (e.g. The Beatrice, The Continental, and The Gehry building) or large rental buildings that always have relatively high vacancy rates. Over the past six months, many of the predictable OP buildings in FiDi, Midtown West, and the UES have ended this concession. Even OP stalwarts like Sky Management and Icon have backed off. Croman is only doing it on two year leases and their long gone from the likes of Rockrose, most Related units, and TF Cornerstone. And forget about it for the condo market!
Renting "no fee" directly from a property manager or owner is an entirely different thing. There is no broker involved. These companies rarely charge fees for renting an apartment (though some do if their property management fee is reduced because they pick it up doing the brokerage work). If you choose to go this route, do your research on the large landlords and property managers before renting from them. Many have horrible reputations, though a few have good ones (e.g. Related). Personally, I think the best way to rent in Manhattan is directly from a condo owner. You generally benefit from a better run building, you get high quality finishes in the apartment and common areas (though some rentals have that), but most importantly, you have direct access to the owner.
On a side note, based on years of evidence I've encountered, I think the best priced listings are co-op rentals. Though there will likely be a broker's fee (as with condos), they're often under market compared to their condo and rental building bretheren. This is in part because of the cumbersome application process.
My mom recently moved to Manhattan and, by our standards here, would be classified as "moderate income." She has her Social Security and a decent savings, but retiring in Manhattan will not be easy for her. I recently came across the Penn South Cooperative in Chelsea. Their waiting list for apartments is so long that it's closed, but I was intrigued by the concept of the limited equity coop. Does anyone know of any similar buildings in desirable NYC neighborhoods? Are there any other housing opportunities that would appeal to a moderate income senior (e.g. I'm familiar with 80/20 housing opportunities)? I would greatly appreciate any insight you might have.
Dylan621 - I thought you would find this article interesting. It's totally on point: http://www.villageconfidential.com/guest-post-dont-mess-up-in-here-by-noah-rosenblatt-of-urbandigs-com/