How do you get a good apartment in NYC in a week?
November 1, 2010 6:35 AM   Subscribe

To make a long story short: I start a new job in NYC one week from today and I need an apartment. How do I get the best place possible on short notice?

I've rented in the past, but I have a few things going against me: I have effectively no credit (never had a credit card, never had an apartment I was actually on the lease for, have medical debt, etc), I'm newly moving to the area, etc.

While my salary is fairly substantial and will give me a large range of apartments to choose from, it seems that between my short deadline and my lack of credit, I may have trouble pulling this off. What is the best way for me to move forward? What should I know?

I've contacted a broker and I'm currently awaiting his response, but I figured I'd get feedback from the hivemind.

Thanks guys!
posted by daeken to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
You could sublet a room in a shared apartment off of Craigslist for a month so that you have a longer deadline to find a place to stay permanently (though this may be difficult if you have furniture you would need to store). That way, you won't be stuck taking the first decent place you see. If you don't have credit, you may have to find a guarantor to sign your lease with you. Even though my credit's fine, I don't have a large income right now, so my last two landlords asked me for a guarantor's name. I used a parent for one apartment and a boss for the other.
posted by pineappleheart at 6:44 AM on November 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


sublet. Not just because its the only thing you can get done in a week (probably) but because it will allow you to figure out where you want to live and give you a greater choice of places. The No credit thing is going to be a problem. You will probably need to find a guarantor or offer to pay a large sum of rent up front. For my current apartment I had to provide more documentation than my co-worker needed for his conforming morgage.
posted by JPD at 6:49 AM on November 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


You're going to need either 1) a guarantor or 2) a lot of cash. Failing either of those, I'd say to look around for sublets.
posted by BobbyVan at 6:52 AM on November 1, 2010


Sublet. It's by far the best way to go.
posted by ocherdraco at 6:53 AM on November 1, 2010


The majority of leases in NYC start on the 1st, so on the 31st everyone is shuffling to get out. It's possible you'll find something, but based upon what I've observed and friends in the area have as well, it's cyclical like that.

AFAIK, having your name on a lease somewhere doesn't improve your credit score. It never showed up on any of my credit reports.

I second the sublet suggestion, you'll be more likely to deal with an individual as opposed to a leasing company who probably won't run credit checks but will instead ask for pay stubs or some other verification of employment. (Though the fact that you'll have had this new job exactly 0 days while you're shopping doesn't make you seem all the stable compared to someone else who has been employed by the same company for a few years.)
posted by Brian Puccio at 6:53 AM on November 1, 2010


Get a sublet for now -- it'll ease the stress on you for a few weeks anyway, and give you a chance to figure out where you want to live and time to find a place with no credit.

Luckily, the real estate market is very last-minute here in New York, and finding a sublet the first week of the month is not at all impossible.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 7:00 AM on November 1, 2010


Short-term you could try to find a place through airbnb. I've never used it myself, but the discussion on ask.metafilter was very positive.
posted by alms at 7:02 AM on November 1, 2010


AFAIK, having your name on a lease somewhere doesn't improve your credit score. It never showed up on any of my credit reports.


No but it is SOP for landlords to request a reference from past landlords.
posted by JPD at 7:11 AM on November 1, 2010


Are you in the city now? If you aren't here to look at apartments in person and are new to NYC real estate, you should find a short-term solution that gives you at least a couple weeks to do a search in person. A month or two would be ideal. If this isn't possible, then be conservative -- only places close to the subway, only new construction, only in neighborhoods that you've either spent time in yourself in the past or can extensively explore in Google Street View. The market here is full of people who want to trick you into renting shitty aprtments that've been on the market too long, and if they know you're from out of town they may assume you're an easy mark. Not everyone is like that, of course, but you'll be better off if you're careful.

That said.

When you're searching craigslist, concentrate on listings that Are rent by owner, as opposed to a broker -- there are lots of these in nice Brooklyn neighborhoods near Prospect Park. Broker listings are often for apartments owned by large management companies who will be harder for you to deal with with your credit situation. A smal building owner will be easier for you to negotiate with to accompdate your situation.

Find a place that's easily affordable so your salary makes you look like a safe bet. If possible, offer to pay several months up front, which will have the side benefit of making you look more appealing than your competiton for the apartment. If you have a parent with good credit, ask them to be your guarantor. If your new job isn't connected to your old one somehow, ask the HR person if it would be possible for owners to call and confirm your salary.

I don't actually think your situation is particularly dire. With so many broke freelancers and students competing for apartments, having a good job with a generous salary go a long way toward making you look like an appealing future tenant.

I say this as someone who WAS that broke freelancer for many years, and had dudes like you snap up apartments I was trying to get more than once.

Good luck!
posted by Narrative Priorities at 7:26 AM on November 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


(ugh, sorry for the typos - I had to type all of that on my phone)
posted by Narrative Priorities at 7:28 AM on November 1, 2010


Thanks for all the feedback guys. A bit more info: I'm looking in the East Village, and I'm looking for <=$2000/mo, which is just over 1/5th of my salary, so I don't believe that should be an issue. I'm considering subletting, but I'd rather just crash with friends for a couple days before I can get a place. While I could wait around for the perfect place, it'd make my life a ton easier if I can get a place before I actually start working -- going to be insanely swamped once I start.
posted by daeken at 7:33 AM on November 1, 2010


I don't actually think your situation is particularly dire. With so many broke freelancers and students competing for apartments, having a good job with a generous salary go a long way toward making you look like an appealing future tenant.

Yeah, I came in here to echo the sublet chorus, but if you're willing to just throw a bunch of money at it and not worry about being ripped off in fees or whatever you'll be fine.
posted by soma lkzx at 7:48 AM on November 1, 2010


DO NOT sign a lease or send money without seeing it first. You may/should already know this, but it bears repeating.
posted by mkultra at 8:04 AM on November 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


East Village, and I'm looking for $2000/mo

Oh, man. Manhattan. Okay.

Apologies if I'm telling you something you already know, but: in NYC, apartments go on and off the market incredibly quickly. In Manhattan, the window is often like....48 hours. I assume you're using Craigslist? If the same apartment keeps getting listed for more than a week or two, there's something wrong with it. If a listing is more than a few days old, it's probably not worth calling about. If you see a listing you like, call about it immediately. The newer the listing, the better. If you like the apartment, you're not irresponsible for snapping it up on the spot -- if you take a day (or even a few hours, depending) to think about it, you're probably going to lose the apartment.

I once went in to sign a contract on a studio on the east side, and as I was SITTING THERE IN THE AGENT'S OFFICE they told me someone else had rented out from under me, by someone who'd just slapped down a year's rent up front.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 8:09 AM on November 1, 2010 [5 favorites]


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