Moving to or within NYC probably ranks pretty high on a list of most stressful events in a person’s life, along with divorce and death of a family member. Alright, maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration, but it is true that finding a new apartment, in an extremely crowded city and market, can drum up unique stressors.
To avoid many of these stressors, and help their bank accounts, many people, including myself, seek to move during the late fall and winter months. With a slower market and less personal hustle and bustle, the winter can help bring the stress of moving from a 10 down to a 5.
This is by far the best perk of moving in the winter. Because of the slower market, management companies and landlords are typically more desperate to get renters into unoccupied apartments. After all, every week that an apartment is empty is another week that they cannot collect. Because of this desperation, negotiating rent becomes an easier task, and the renter can find themselves with the upper hand.
Check out this article on how to negotiate rent
Of the four apartments I have lived in, I have successfully negotiated the rent of three of them, always between the months of October and January. In fact, I negotiated a full $200 off the rent per month once with the magic phrase, “I will take this apartment this very second, if you knock the rent down to…”
If you are on a budget, or really just get a thrill of bargaining, wait for winter and then strike!
Avoid Broker’s Fees
On a similar vein to rent negotiations, the winter is also a good time to look for places with reduced broker fees. The desperation I alluded to earlier can push brokers and apartment owners to agree to lower fees in order to get bodies in the door. They need to open the market up to a wider swath of people looking for low fee or no-fee apartments.
Keep an eye out for listings like this, or bring this up as a consideration when negotiating your lease. It can’t hurt to see if it makes a difference. What have you got to lose?
Avoid Sprints to the Bank
I’ve heard and read some horror stories about people looking at an apartment, and then running — quite literally — to the nearest bank to get a certified check for first, last and security. Then, they ran back to a broker’s office. All of this in a 10-minute time span. The only reason they did this was because too many people were clamoring for the apartment at the same time.
Maybe some people get their kicks from this, but to me, it sounds like nightmare. When looking for a new apartment, I would prefer to avoid flight or fight responses that send me off on a steeplechase. Thankfully, slow markets takes this off the table.
Move In On Your Schedule
For those of us that like to ease our way through moving, flexible move-in dates are a dream. Want the lease to start on the eighth of the month instead of the first? Perhaps your landlord will agree to pro-rate that first month to ensure that you will be his new tenant as quickly as possible. Just make sure you come to an agreement ahead of time and document that decision in writing.