1. What is the rental market like now?
As we head into the new year, the rental market is still in favor of the tenant. The market has clearly soften, as the local economy's most important drive,wall street, is suffering through the worst credit crisis since The Great Depression. Maybe the only positive to come from the resulting financial industry downsizing (layoffs over 10%) is that apartment seekers will have more choices and better pricing. There are even a few quality apartments that have gone "no fee" for the first time in years. This is the first "renters market" we've seen since the aftermath of the 9-11 tragedy. Many of Fireside Realty's exclusive properties continue to be priced substantially below even today's depressed market values.

2. What are the criteria for qualifying for an apartment?
That depends on the landlord. Many will look for you to have a job at an established company with a provable base salary about 40 X the rent. Your credit report should show a good payment record and not too much debt. If you're a bit short of qualifying, some landlords will require a guarantor (a qualified co-signer of the lease) or ask for a part of the year's rent in advance. We'll go over all of this with you when you call and show you those apartments we're confident you'll qualify for.

3. What application materials should I be prepared to provide?
The standard application materials are employment letter, pay stubs, W-2 and/or a recent tax return. If you have a fairly new job, you may want to bring similar information from your prior position. If you just graduated college, bring something documenting that (diploma, transcript, etc.). Some landlords like to see a prior landlord reference letter. Any savings or financial assets you may have can strengthen a "borderline" application. Finally, if you think you'll need a guarantor (co-signer of the lease), bring your guarantor's financial materials (same items as cited above). Don't get nervous --- we promise we'll walk you through this whole process and make it easy.

4. How long does it take to get approved by a landlord?
If it's a Fireside Realty exclusive rental, it should take less than 48 hours after your application materials have been received. Same day approval is common. If it's a co-op sublet, formal approval by the co-op board can sometimes take up to 4 weeks. Fireside will not submit an application to a board unless we're highly confident it will be received favorably. We have an excellent track record in this regard.

5. When should I start looking for an apartment?
Although we have found many apartments for people on an ASAP basis, we recommend starting your search 30 - 60 days in advance of move in. That way, you'll maximize the universe of apartments available to see and lessen the necessity of "settling" for something just to meet a deadline.

6. Do most landlords allow pets?
While most landlords allow cats, only about 20% permit dogs. Please be sure to tell us about any pets you have so we can avoid taking you to "no pet" buildings.

7. What are the pros and cons of a rent stabilized apartment vs. renting in a co-op or condo?
With a rent stabilized apartment, a whole host of New York State and NYC rules and regulations come into play to protect you. The two most important: your maximum rent increase each year is set by the New York City Rent Guidelines Board; secondly, the landlord must renew your lease if you've paid your rent on time and been a reasonable tenant. Co-op and condo rentals do not have these legal protections. Yet many co-op and condo owners have proven to be ideal landlords and have kept rent increases to a minimum. In addition, many co-op and condo units have rents priced well below comparable rent stabilized apartments.

8. Is there a standard brokerage commission for rentals in Manhattan?
Kind of. While there is no legal or agreed upon brokerage commission standard, many full service real estate firms in Manhattan quote a commission of 15% of the first year's total rent. Last year, during the height of the real estate and Wall Street frenzy, some firms quoted 17% and even higher. Things have calmed down since then and depending on the brokerage firm and the apartment, you may be able to negotiate your commission below 15%. At Fireside, our standard commission is 15%, though we usually have a number of excellent apartments that can be offered at lower commissions.

9. Why do fools fall in love?
Hey, we're just real estate brokers. That's beyond our purview. Sorry!