Many of our foreign clients ask us about the best tips to score a wonderful apartment in NYC.
1) Identify your move-in date and give yourself sufficient time
Start looking 3 to 4 weeks prior to your move-in date and expect to meet several refusals before being accepted. Come prepared with all your supporting documents in hand, copies of passport, student visa, green card, H1B or other legal documentations, employment or education letter(s). If you are currently residing overseas and cannot preview apartments in person, we offer a convenient and complimentary online platform that let you see floor plans when available, quality pictures and gives you a clear idea of what you can expect for your budget by allowing you to schedule, reject or short list any units.
2) What are credit score and income requirements?
Be aware that your application may take a little bit more time than a domestic applicant as you may not have a US credit score history, or you are just starting a new job or are a foreign student. Some of our Canadian friends can have their credit scores transferred here in the US and are approved by certain landlords and management companies. Albeit, most countries in the world do not use the US credit score so brace yourself.
A credit score is a numerical expression based on a level analysis of a person's credit files, to represent the creditworthiness of an individual. A credit score is primarily based on credit report information typically sourced from credit bureaus such as Experian, Transunion or Equifax. You are entitled by law to receive a notice about tenant screening reports and landlord must notify you if they do not lease you base on the information on that report. You also have the right to dispute the accuracy of this report.
The general rule of thumb for income qualification is 40 to 45 times the rent. But some asset-based qualification may be used especially for people with large savings or trust available.
Hence, a $2,000 rental apartment must be met by an $80,000-$90,000 income per year (bonuses may be included at the landlord’s discretion).
3) But I don’t have any credit score or I am just a student with no income!
Don’t despair as some management companies specialize in foreign students and their buildings allow you to use a private guarantor who meets 80-85 times the income requirements or will allow you to pre-pay all or a portion of the rent - provided that no rental stabilization law prevents it. We will save you time and headaches by presenting you the listings from these companies first and foremost.
Some landlords will simply not allow rent pre-payment due to potential issues related to holdover proceedings that they may not be able to enforce in a tenant-landlord court. Indeed, the risk remains for the landlord at the end of the lease if you do not vacate the premises.
In most cases, our tenants were accepted without issues as long as they were able to demonstrate financial worthiness and legal residency with either a job or student activity.
4) I do not have a bank account, am I doomed?
Rest assured, it is relatively easy to open a new bank account with $200-500 with Bank of America that is very foreigners friendly. Some international institutions are also allowing their Premier or 1sttier clientele to open reciprocal accounts within their US operations such as HSBC Premier, Citibank Gold, or TD Bank Premier Checking. You often have to come in person at the branch nearest you with your passport and you can use your prospective rental address as you future one. Online banking is also becoming important and many institutions offer these seamless service.
5) Rely on your employer or school administration to prepare documents ahead of your arrival.
Ensure that your HR department will provide you an employment letter with your starting date, stated salary and bonuses or that your international department at your College or University will provide you with a reference letter needed with a student ID form or acceptance letter. Be pro-active and obtain these forms prior to starting your search. Also, it doesn't hurt to obtain current recommendation letter(s) or have proof of funds from your overseas account signed on a letterhead dated less than 1 month. Online statements are also very useful and often are available in English.
6) I have exhausted all my options - I can’t find a home but I have lawful source of income!
We work with excellent private guarantor companies such as Insurent that are allowing you to be pre-approved by acting as your lease guarantors. Qualified renters only pay Insurent a one-time fee prior to signing the lease on their new place and eliminate the needs to have a US Credit Score or meet the 40x income requirements. We do not perceive any commission or revenue from this service that we extend to you as a courtesy. They will also provide you with a list of pre-approved landlords that will enable you to find the right match.
Lastly, remember your first apartment lease will generally last 12 months so in that time frame you will build a history and will be able to qualify the next round as a domestic applicant. Sublet is also a good option but be aware that you may have to go through the same stringent application process.
For all your international real estate needs, both rentals or sales, don't hesitate to reach our expert team by contacting us here!
The Art of Managing your Credit - Read The Story from October 14, 2016 »