So You Want to Move to NYC :: Paperwork
Well guys, we’ve made it through the research phase and now we’re moving onto week 2 of my moving series with FlatRate Moving. This week we’re tackling the next step… dun, dun, dun. Paperwork! It’s not exactly the most glamorous part of the process, but I promise if you take my advice the process of landing your dream NYC apartment will be so much easier!
My broker for my apartment on 2nd Avenue said I was the most organized applicant he’d worked with in his real estate career, so that has to count for something right?! I don’t think he was just buttering me up at that point either ;-) So let’s get to it! As you might guess, the paperwork process here in the city isn’t exactly the one or two page rental application and copy of your w-2 you might be used to. Nope, here in the city we do things a little bit different.
When I first moved to the city, my Dad was my guarantor and I distinctly remember him telling me he was a little sketched out by the process because my management company wanted more information from him than he needed when he bought his house. So yeah, things are a little different, but don’t worry, you’re going to troop through the process!
Here’s a look at the documents I have had to provide when applying for my apartments. Different places will have different requirements but here’s a good overview of what you should have ready to go. My motto is it’s always better to have more and be able to pull out the ones you don’t need than to have to go back and search for more.
- 2 years of W-2s: this requirement is pretty standard across the country. To determine if you meet the 40-50 times the rent requirements, they’re going to want to verify your income.
- 2 years of Tax Returns: Yes, your tax returns probably have similar numbers to your w-2s but they’re going to want to see the whole shabang! They want to see signed versions too. So if you file online and haven’t physically signed them, make sure you print, sign and then scan them.
- 2-3 Pay Stubs: If your W-2s and tax returns weren’t enough they’re also going to want to see your last few pay stubs to make sure your income is consistent and current.
- 2-3 Months of Bank Statements: This requirement tends to vary on the amount of months more frequently, but they’re going to want to see the balances of your bank accounts to verify you have money in the bank. make sure you include all accounts with significant amounts too.
- Employment Verification Letter/Offer Letter: You can ask your boss or HR for this letter (depending on how large your company is). Usually the information they’re going to want to see on it is where are you employed, what is your title, how long have you been there, what is your annual salary or hourly wage, and if you receive a bonus or are planned to get a raise in coming months. They’re also going to want this letter signed. All of the apartments I’ve lived in have also called my work to verify this information. If you are moving to the city for a new job, you can submit a copy of your offer letter. Your broker will be able to help you with the logistics too.
- Rental Reference Letter: Rental reference letters are common in the city. Reach out to a current or past landlord and ask if they can write you a reference letter. The info that you’re going to want highlighted is how long you were a tenant, paying rent on time and being a responsible tenant.
- Previous Rental Contacts: On top of the rental letter they will also usually ask for contact info for your last 2-3 rentals. Sometimes they only ask for this info and not the letter too.
- Business/Personal References: For the apartments I’ve applied for having a list of two personal and two business contacts have sufficed, but some buildings will require actual letters. Letters can be especially important if you end up renting in a co-op or condo building that requires board approval. This is another part of paperwork that can really vary apartment to apartment. I do suggest including contacts though because my first apartment in the city called all 4 of my references, so you just never know.
- Documentation of Other Financial Assets: If you have any other financial assets – rental income from another property, 401K, stocks, etc. include records of those assets in your packet.
- Pet Info/Photos: If you have a pet, include their information in your paperwork. They’re going to want to know the breed, age, weight and I suggest providing a photo. Weight and breed restrictions are generally the biggest factors in getting a dog approved so it’s good information to provide. You might also be asked to have a dog interview (it happened to me) with the landlord to verify the dog’s breed and weight too so don’t flub on the info.
- Copy of your ID: And finally… a copy of your ID! Your driver’s license or passport is great.
Phew! We made it through the list! I know I just hit you with a lot of information there, but you made it through! Like I said.. It’s a lot.. but organize it now and then you won’t have to worry about it once you make it to actually looking at apartments!
As I mentioned before, I’m a little extreme with my rental packet organization but I like to top off my packets with a nice little cover page with my contact info and then title pages for each section. Nothing crazy, but it helps me go through my own checklist and ends up putting some finishing touches on the packet to hand over to your broker.
While you’re pulling everything together too I suggest having a digital version saved on Google Drive/Dropbox or just in your email as well as a hard copy. We’ll get more into meeting with brokers and open houses further into my moving series but apartments don’t last much longer than a New York minute so it’s important to have both versions easily accessible. If you look at an apartment, it might not be on the market after a few more people look at it so you want to be prepared – which is why you’re here right?!
I’m going to close this week’s post with one more important step for the paperwork stage and that is securing your financing. When you apply for an apartment there is generally an application deposit, application fee, and credit check fee (this can range – but mine have usually been around the $500 mark total) and your broker is going to want payment through certified checks. So if you are not local, you may want to consider transferring some money into a local bank or making sure you have enough funds to head to the bank right after seeing the right apartment. As soon as you’re approved your broker is also going to want to collect certified checks for the 1st month’s rent, security deposit (usually 1-2 months rent) and the broker’s fee within a few days so it’s smart to take care of this now.
The best thing you can do to make your move to NYC easier is by doing your research and being prepared and you’re already on your way to doing both! Moving is always a stressful but if you cross your t’s and dot your i’s you’ll go into the process in a way better place! Now get to working on those rental packets! I’ll see you guys next week – same place, same time ;-) Big thanks again to FlatRate Moving for helping me present this series