There are many things a new apartment hunter needs to look out for. Most of them have to do with money and the speed it can develop when leaving your unsuspecting hands.
Please be aware of all the fees associated with the apartment. Ask the agent/landlord directly to list all the fees. Usually, people expect a broker fee, an application fee and maybe pet deposit (for the list of the fees and what to expect, please see my previous post). Some real estate professionals, and I use that term very loosely, make lots of money gathering application fees (which, of course, are not refundable) for apartments they know are unavailable, and then keeping them. So, before you put down any money, ask if the place is still available, even if you just saw it. (Yes, it is stupid and yes, it should go without saying, but you know….).
Also, real estate offices will expect you to put down a good faith deposit, usually 1 month’s rent which will go towards your total closing costs. Make sure this deposit is fully refundable in an event of the landlord rejecting your application (in this case, your deposit is refundable and your application is not, because they had to run your credit and background checks) or in an event another candidate just beat you to it (in this case, both deposit and application fee are refundable, because they never had to run your credit and background checks). As a rule, if you put down any money to hold an apartment and then you decide to back out, that money is not refundable, but this goes on a case to case basis. My broker, for example, always refunds the money, going by the old “more flies with honey” but don’t assume that everyone will do that.
Speaking of assuming, don’t!
Because if you do, you’re making….. well, you know the rest. Do not think that the landlord will buff the floors just because the real estate agent or the landlord him/herself told you so. Whatever you want fixed/done/changed in the apartment, make sure it is put in the lease before you sign it.
And last, but not least, a word or two about my kind, a real estate agent. We might have a reputation out there that is less than desirable, and a lot of it has to do with the fact that we all work on commission, therefore it might make a person let’s say less inclined to speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Now, I’ve meet honest agents and I’ve met some that are not really that. It’s very difficult to generalize and shove all those different personalities in the same hat. That being said, we’re all big boys and girls, and we’ve all seen at least half a dozen apartments in our lifetime, even if we haven’t even moved out of our parents’ house. So, if you see an ad describing an apartment like it’s a Beverly Hills mansion, beware! There ARE beautiful, gorgeous, to-die-for, apartments all over the city, but we don’t need an agent or landlord to tell us that. The only correct way to determine the beauty and the value of an apartment is to look at the price tag. The price never lies. An agent who’s, after all, a person, can misrepresent an apartment. The landlord can try to raise the price to maximize the profits, a camera, even, can make something look much, much better with proper lighting and a proper choosing of the angles. The only thing that doesn’t lie is the price tag. Because in a city as big as this one, all the apartments have been rented thousands of times over. From small studios in not desirable neighborhoods to 5-floor brownstones on the Upper East Side. From barely legal basement apartments in houses over a 100 years old to penthouses in brand new buildings. And when you see an ad for a 1 bedroom for $1000 in an area where 1 bedrooms are $1500+, you know something’s wrong. Now imagine seeing that ad with words: “Beautiful, renovated, spacious 1 bedroom in a new building.” It hurts, right? It physically hurts. So please be careful and remember, the price tag doesn’t lie.
That’s it for now. Stay worm in this awful weather.