How to Negotiate in the Current Rental Market? Cautiously!

We’ve been helping you to search out the very best apartment on the market and, hopefully, you’ve found some good options!

But — wait — what’s that? You now need to negotiate rent? YIKES!

Yeah, negotiating can be a scary thing, but you’ve already done the toughest part of the search!  Seriously, a little back patting action guys!

So, how does negotiation work? Basically, it’s about you finding the best deal and the apartment owner finding the best tenant.  Just think of negotiating as a game of chicken — you vs. the landlord.

We wrote an earlier post in late 2008 about how the rental market had improved and to a degree it’s still open, but the door is swiftly closing. In some places, such as more desirable areas of NYC, it already has. So, while there’s still room for negotiation (and it never hurts to ask), you may need to tread cautiously.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

1) If you work with a broker, be honest about your maximum rent — a good broker won’t show you a place he doesn’t think you can get for your maximum. If anything, consider telling him slightly below your target rent. You can always go up a bit if need be.

2) If you love a place and can’t imagine living anywhere else — be super careful with your bid as you are probably competing with numerous other folks.  For newbies, most places require you to fill out an application form with your security deposit and your apartment bid (monthly rent).  From there, the landlord looks at the possible candidates, how much they’re willing to pay, their credit scores etc. and chooses his best option. For the record, brokers aren’t supposed to allow more than one bid at a time, but they break that rule more often than you’d think.

3) Research the market. Just you wishing the rent was lower won’t cut it. You need to actually be well informed about the rental range in your desired neighborhood.

4) Confidence is key when negotiating — but overconfidence can screw ya. Many landlords are old school, especially those not in major metros.  They’ll show you the place themselves and you’ll have to crunch figures on the spot. Landlords can smell desperation and won’t budge a dime if you’re too obvious about your love for the place!  But, if you’re overly confident you could lose your place. Balance is key.

5) Be realistic. Even if you’re looking to rent in Chicago with a 12% vacancy rate, landlords aren’t going to GIVE their prime rentals away.  Don’t insult them with super low bids.

For more tips (including need for credit scores and employment records,) check out our additional negotiation tip list. Master those and you’ll be ready to negotiate with ANY landlord.

PS.  NYC renters now have harder time to share apartments.  It turns out that those rent-a-walls used by many to convert a 1BR apt into a 2BR may be illegal.  Check out this article in the NYTimes and be prepared to pay more than your friend did a year ago.

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Author My First Apartment

Posted by

I've lived in apartments in 6 cities (including 2 foreign countries). Does that make me an expert? As of now, my ceiling isn't leaking and I don't have rodents (knock on wood) -- so I'm going to say yes . . . but ask me again tomorrow:) These days, I'm enjoying life Chicago style, but my years in Brooklyn are never far from my mind. P.S. By day I work at, but these opinions are totally, 100% my own.

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Comments (2)

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  2. Avatar Zoe

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