We’d like to announce that RentHop is officially launching in Chicago today!
(Publicly available) Info that helps us gauge the quality, timeliness and completeness of the listing (you wouldn’t want to look at a listing without photos, right?).
+The internal track record of the listing within RentHop (price drops, how many inquiries an apartment has received, etc.).+The previous behavior of the broker or landlord offering the apartment (how quickly they respond to your inquiries, for example!).+= HopScore
Oh, and as always, RentHop is free for apartment hunters, and for a limited time, managers joining in Chicago and Boston will earn a free lifetime basic membership.
Comment here if you have questions, or tell us how we can best help you find the most awesome apartments in the Windy City.
Congratulations to Guillaume Derouet for posting our one millionth New York City rental listing!
We actually didn’t expect to cross the mark until near the end of the month, but the renter AND landlord activity has been growing at a break-neck pace. Keep of the good work everyone; I’m so glad the community continues to thrive and evolve.
Many of you have also noticed the recent design changes that Lawrence has implemented, both in the landlord dashboard and the main list-based apartment search. However, one of my favorite changes has been the new and streamlined NYC apartment map search. When we first began, three years ago, the map page was our original and only search mode! Back in the day we plotted every listing in Manhattan on the Google map, using some clever JS hackery to keep the performance acceptable while juggling thousands of listings. As we’ve grown, however, we realized that renters tend not to want to see every possible listing. It’s much more important just to see the high quality, highly relevant posts. Now, for the first time ever on RentHop, we’ve fully integrated our trust score and search rank algorithms alongside the location-based filtering.
Within the next few days, we are expecting to reach our one millionth NYC apartment listing ever posted on RentHop.com! If you are the lucky landlord or broker to hit the big million, then let us know and we’ll gift you 1,000 free RentHop credits for posting on CraigsList, buying featured listings, or many of the our premium features in our landlord dashboard.
Best location in Forest Hills – Size Matters
Apartment 2K– Fully Renovated 1BR with private balcony * 875 SF * $1900
Our Largest One Bedroom, kitchen features granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, marble bathroom with hand carved vanity. FLOOR PLAN
Apartment 6W – Corner Two Bedroom with private balcony * 1033 SF * $2050
Gigantic Two Bedroom Apartment, corner private unit, new wood flooring throughout, large living room, abundant closet space. FLOOR PLAN
Apartment 16V – Fully Renovated 3BR with private balcony * 1327 SF * $3000
Fabulous Three Bedroom featuring kitchen with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, two marble bathrooms with hand carved vanities, huge private balcony, and great views. FLOOR PLAN
Call us today for the latest updates of our new listings. 888-256-0135
Email me, Shari Forrest, directly with any questions HERE
We are happy to give broker preview tours.
104-20 Queens Boulevard
Close to transportation: E, F, M and R Subway Lines and LIRR
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Leasing office hours:
Monday through Thursday from 10-7
Friday from 10-6
Saturday/Sunday from 11-5
For those who do consulting work, a once counter-intuitive secret is now common knowledge: accepting a lower hourly rate often means having a more demanding, more obnoxiously clueless, and more frustrating client. The theory is the lower paying clients don’t know the value of high quality work, or are generally on a lower budget and need to try and squeeze the most value out of their dollar. We don’t blame them; these clients can be good career starting points, plus we appreciate life much more once we graduate to better opportunities. An established freelancer has plenty of clients knocking at his door, so the easy filter is sticking to a higher rate and avoiding all the charity work in the lower rungs.
For anyone wondering about hard numbers, looking for coding work contracted for less than $60 an hour in the US is the equivalent to searching for a rent controlled apartment. It will be tough to find and will certainly be full of deficiencies, but sometimes you have no choice. As the client, you expect and accept the problems and look forward to upgrading when your situation improves.
Real estate professionals unfortunately don’t have as direct a way to raise their consulting rates. I know there are skeptics, but it’s true; excellent brokers do exist and there is enormous variation in skill between the great ones, the average, and the terrible. If you’ve never met a value-adding broker, then it’s because you are the client who wants a programmer at $10 an hour. I’ll explain shortly.
Say I’ve got 5 clients who all want me to show apartments this weekend. Three want studios under $1800 a month, one wants a 1BR in Brooklyn, and the last one wants a 2BR in Financial District, preferring a luxury high rise. Well that’s obvious, right? Unless one of the clients is a solid word-of-mouth referral, I need to guess that all 5 will convert at the same rate, but as a broker I get about $1800 on the studio guys, I probably can’t convert Brooklyn because I’ve never bothered to preview there, but I’ve got a slew of OP luxury highrises in FiDi that pay $4500 on conversion. While I’m there, I learn more and more about the other luxury high rises so I’ll be more prepared for the next set of 2BR Wall Street roommates. By corollary, I becoming more clueless about Brooklyn and the low-end studios relative to my luxury high rise knowledge.
Brokers ensure their deals close while keeping their clients happy and informed throughout the entire transaction process. In my experience it’s pretty obvious by closing whether the co-broker was good or sucked. Unfortunately for the good ones, real estate commissions cap out at 6% for sales and 15% for rentals. How do they do the equivalent of raising their rates? Easy, they just reject clients who seek lower priced transactions.
Hilariously, the public actually thinks the opposite. “Why should a Realtor get $60K selling a $1M house for doing the same exact work as a Realtor who gets $12K selling a $200K house?” Well, the answer is they are clearly two very different Realtors. One is a veteran consultant charging $500 an hour, and the other is an entry-level player building credibility at $100 an hour.
Most landlords decide to add incentives to reduce their vacancy rates as we head into the Winter season. After all, most rational people try to avoid moving in the cold weather, around holiday season. Even many brokers decide to stop working or reduce their hours once the peak March to October rental season ends. Still, for those who have no choice but to do a Winter relocation (or the clever ones who try to stay off peak cycle), there are usually plenty of deals to go around!
Unfortunately, New York City real estate is in a strange situation right now, where landlords are cautiously optimistic that the local economy is rebounding and the sudden lack of spending propensity in the past two years is finally reversing course. What we’re seeing is that higher end, modern luxury buildings are piling on the incentives, as evidenced by the previous post regarding 505 West 37th. At the more competitively priced end of the spectrum, we are actually seeing cutbacks, despite being in roughly the same neighborhood. The Vogue at 990 Avenue of the Americas reduced OPs earlier this year, and just today, Herald Towers sent this OP reduction to their brokerage network.
Stay tuned as we move deeper into the off-peak season. As always, we try our best to stay up-to-date on the latest New York Apartment deals and incentives around the city.
Wow, I saw this while glancing through my inbox yesterday. 505 West 37th is offering 2 months free + 2 months OP!! That’s 4/14 months of discount off the gross from the landlord’s point of view!
There are a few interesting ways to play this deal. If you are a broker, do you try advertising the open listings with 3 months free as a net effective, hoping to fold half your OP into the rent during the negotiation process?
If you are a renter, do you walk into the leasing office demanding 3 months free? Better yet, can you find a licensed broker to be your roommate, and then you all get the full 4 months free?? Note that not all buildings by this management company are offering such a great deal. I believe 2 Gold is still at 1 month free + 1 month OP. Still, after gathering data from the past three years, we’re pretty sure November is the magic sweet spot for moving, if you can somehow sync your schedule accordingly.
Breaking the Lease?
Have you or one of your friends ever been in this situation? You signed a 12-month lease 3 months ago. All of a sudden, your roommate bails or you’re forced to relocate. Can you break your lease without repercussions? The short answer is – no. However, there are ways to mitigate the damage. First, let’s take a general look what you or the landlord can / cannot do. NOTE, however, that we at RentHop.com are not lawyers, nor are we giving legal advice. Be sure to do your own due diligence or contact a legal representative with any questions. In general, though, a lease cannot be broken by either landlord or renter (unless expressly written into the lease).
The landlord’s rights:
- The renter cannot break the lease unless the landlord agrees. An interesting tidbit goes with this. If the renter happens to die, their inheritors need to assume the lease.
- In general, you cannot assign a lease to another person. In an assignment, the new tenant assumes most (if not all) of the responsibilities of the original tenant. Assignments differ from sublets. In a sublet, the original tenant is still liable to the landlord.
- If the renter “breaks” the lease by abandoning the property, the landlord can rent the property out again or take possession of the contents.
- If the renter refuses to pay, the landlord can take the renter to court.
- For a building with > 4 units, a landlord can reject a sublet with reasonable grounds. However, a landlord cannot reject a sublet on unreasonable grounds (for example, because of racial discrimination).
The renter’s rights:
- Under most circumstances, the tenant can sublet his apartment (as long as he is liable for the lease if the sublessee defaults).
- The landlord cannot break the lease or change the rent for the duration of the lease.
- If the property changes hands, the new property owner needs to honor the lease.
- If a renter abandons a property and the landlord manages to find a new tenant. The landlord cannot collect rent from both tenants.
Given these nuggets of information, being locked into a lease may seem unfair. But the lease is binding on both sides. You wouldn’t want the landlord to kick your out on a whim right? Nor would you want to be out on the street because a property changed hands. So what can you do if you need to move out before your lease ends?
I’m in one of these situations – what can I do?
- Read your lease and rider very closely to see if you are given any additional rights.
- Speak with the landlord!
- Some landlords are friendlier than others and may be willing to let you break the lease. For example, rents may have risen dramatically, and the landlord will benefit if he can find a renter quickly. In the depths of the recession in 2008, some landlords even had special clauses that let tenants break their leases should they lose their jobs.
- Otherwise, if you can find a new tenant, the landlord might be willing to let you assign the lease (provided – of course – that the rents you’re paying are the same).
- In general, unless you’re subletting from a co-op, you can sublet the apartment.
- Some landlords may be willing to help you find a new tenant. In this case though, you’re liable for the lease if they don’t find one (risky option).
How do I sublet my apartment?
The time of year, the remaining term of the lease, and the market rent vs the lease rent will affect your ability to sublet your apartment. Finding a tenant in the winter will be more difficult than during the prime June/July/August months. In addition, if the market rent is lower than your contract rent, you may lose money if you choose to rent out the apartment below your contract rent (but this is still way better than letting your unit sit idle). To get a good sense of where you want to price your apartment, check out the listings on RentHop.com for your location/size. To advertise your listing, definitely post on RentHop as well as craigslist.
For further reading, take a look at the tenant’s rights guide on the Housing and Urban Development site.
Wow. We always knew that the New York real estate scene had some fairly shady characters. Forget about the dozens of landing page sites that come and go each year. They are the small fish that clutter our search results. We click on them occasionally, but the friendly back-button saves us from any damage beyond a quick ten-second glimpse of the content lacking, ad-filled pages.
Anyone who spends serious time in the Manhattan real estate sector knows that things are just VERY different here than anywhere else in the country and world. There is no real MLS / IDX, or anything close to a centralized repository of all listings. Open listings are the norm as opposed to exclusives, and brokers eagerly play along. Best of all, anyone who digs deep into the various real estate dynasties will discover a complex web of relationships, partnerships, and in some cases feuds between blood relatives.
A few brave souls have attempted to untangle and make sense of the mess, but for every upstanding startup in this space, there are a seemingly equal number of con-artists out to make a quick buck. Last month, however, we discovered an entirely new reason to enter the business. Russian spy Anna Chapman was the mastermind behind NYC Rentals dot com. I never quite understood her true motives, even after watching her pitch interview. Needless to say, it’s rather disturbing that the NYC rental space has now become the cover occupation for international espionage!
In light of such discoveries, it may be time to introduce ourselves a bit more comprehensively. Specifically, there are a few holes in Mike Grynbaum’s NY Times RentHop article. For the first time ever revealed on our site, we unveil three great mysteries. Yes, we originally discussed our ideas over sushi, and while I’d love to think I’m an up-and-coming cook, we were dining at the Murray Hill Today at 32nd St. and 5th Ave (now called Ichiumi, and from what I hear has seriously declined in quality). We were working at hedge funds at the time, D. E. Shaw & Co. and Traxis Partners. As for my abilities as a salesperson… the jury is out, but I’ve done enough transactions to learn that logic and emotion are both irrelevant compared to fostering trust!
One of the greatest economies of scale phenomenon Manhattan renters utilize each year is the convertible 1BR, aka the flex-2. While an individual renter looking for a nice Midtown or Downtown studio will pay $1800-$2200, a pair of renters looking for a two-bedroom can save huge amounts of money splitting the right type of apartment. And that type isn’t a true two-bedroom, which ranges from $3600-$4100 and offers a spacious living room along with some of the best views in the building. The best savings come from the convertible 1BR, a special kind of one-bedroom where it’s possible to build a temporary partition wall and convert part of the living room into a new bedroom.
The idea sounds so simple, yet these convertible 1BRs are a bit of a rare find and must meet a few important criteria. They are so popular that most landlords and brokers actually clarify whenever a one-bedroom happens to be convertible (they are flexible enough to be turned into a 2BR, hence a flex-2). Sadly at this time, our own NYC rental apartment search engine allows for filtering on 1-bedrooms+ or 2-bedrooms+, but there is no specific filter for the Flex-2.
What does a flex-2 mean? Most importantly, the landlord or buildings must allow temporary walls, or at least will agree to turn a blind eye if you put up a wall and promise to take it down without leaving a trace (wall companies can put up simple walls with doors starting at $1200 and up, with extra for sound-proofing, L-shapes, and T-shapes). The living room must be large enough to support the new bedroom, and also not block access to the original bedroom (otherwise you wind up with the dreaded railroad two-bedroom). Lastly, the bathroom needs to be accessible from outside both the original and converted bedrooms, otherwise one roommate will need to trespass every day for showering, brushing teeth, etc.
If all goes well, two renters can bag a flex-2 for about $2400-$3000, plus the amortized cost of the wall (add $100-150). They might be left with a tiny living room (and no windows in it), the kitchen and entrance area might lose all sources of natural light, and the roommates may quarrel over whether an equal payment of the rent is still fair. However, in total, they will have found decent Manhattan housing for about $500 less than the cost of a comparable studio. Sadly, as the New York Times writes this weekend, the flex-2 may be coming to an end.
As the city aggressively enforces a long existent but widely ignored code, walls are falling across Manhattan, radically altering the housing landscape for scores of young professionals. Thousands of renters are being told that the walls that have been put up over the years without approval from the Department of Buildings must come down. And new renters are being informed that if they wish to divide a space, they will need to rely on bookshelves or partial walls that don’t reach the ceiling.
To be fair, the walls apparently were never legal in most cases. What has accelerated enforcement is a new stance finding landlords liable for certain tragedies that occur because of the walls. Specifically, manslaughter penalties if the wall violates fire codes. A partition and isolate a room to lack fire sprinklers, or may block emergency exit routes.
Unfortunately, the death of flex-2′s will certainly price many roommate pairs out of Manhattan for the foreseeable future, and will hurt landlords who can no longer collect a flex-2 premium on their apartments (and the flex-3 and junior-1 apartments should take a hit as well). If you happen to live in one of these apartments, you probably don’t need to panic just yet. In fact, we’d recommend keeping quiet if you have a wall. Why bother asking your landlord a question when you really don’t want to hear the wrong answer? Stay silent, enjoy your wall while you can, and start browsing next season’s IKEA catalog for some tall Billy bookshelves or Asian folding screens.