Even before officially beginning their apartment hunt in Brooklyn last weekend, Trady Kim and his girlfriend were advised to act fast and be ready to do the paperwork immediately.
"It's very competitive," said the 24-year-old product designer, who saw a Prospect Heights apartment on Saturday.
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Kim, his girlfriend Annie and their beagle-Chihuahua mix are moving during New York City's "peak rental season, industry experts said. As students graduate, they move to the city for new jobs and prospects, leading to stiff competition and less flexibility for the most sought-after apartments.
"It's the law of supply and demand," said Gary Malin, president of Citi Habitats. He estimates there are twice as many people looking for rentals in the spring and summer months. Many of them are future New Yorkers, but others also need to move because their current city lease is ending.
"Many owners, if they can, stagger their lease terms to have them come up during that May, June, July time frame," Malin said.
There were more than 30,000 total listings in the StreetEasy rental inventory this April, according to data provided by the online New York City real estate marketplace. That's about an 11 percent increase from March. Last month, there were more than 31,000 listings.
The bumps can partially be attributed to StreetEasy's growing online presence, said Alan Lightseldt, a data scientist with the company. But the site has seen seasonal increases since 2009.
"There does seem to be a period between March and August where there is a noticeable increase in inventory," Lightseldt said.
Even with increased availability, many apartments will still get multiple applications, said Luciane Serifovic, director of rentals at Douglas Elliman Real Estate. Last week, she said the first showing of one available apartment attracted 30 prospective renters and resulted in six applications.
"Sometimes I wish graduation months would change," Serifovic said.
After getting a city job in pharmaceuticals, recent Penn State graduate Brendan Weiss began looking for an apartment in Manhattan. Weiss and his roommate saw more than a dozen apartments on their first day looking.
"All the ones that we really liked were ones that had applications on them," the 22 year old said. Eventually the roommates found an Upper East Side apartment, but only after they knew to act quickly, arranging for guarantors early on and bringing their paperwork to the viewing.
"By the end, we were really smart about it," Weiss said.
Facing a tough market in the next few weeks, Kim said summer probably isn't the best time for a move.
"I'd ideally want to move in winter, but I don't have any choice," Kim said. His lease is up in July.
Tips to survive New York City's peak rental season:
-- Plan ahead:
Bring your checkbook to an apartment viewing and figure out who can be a guarantor if that's necessary. As you begin looking, ask your workplace for a letter of employment -- there's no telling how long this could take human resources to draft.
-- Be flexible:
There's more apartments listed during the spring and summer months, but more competition. "Unless you have an unlimited budget, you're going to have to make some sacrifices along the way," Malin said.
-- Be careful:
Read the fine print before signing a lease.Weiss said he and his roommate did not sign a lease when they saw the apartment they would have rented wasn't the unit they were shown by a broker.
-- Understand the market:
If you know the typical rent and availability of what you're looking for, it will be easier to make viewing appointments, Malin said.
-- Factor in additional costs:
Even without a broker fee -- which can cost more than a month's rent -- there may also be an application fee to cover a credit check. Boxes aren't cheap, either.
-- Put off moving:
If you can wait to move in the fall and winter, you might find a more favorable market and flexible rent, Serifovic said."Iwould suggest if they can live somewhere temporarily to wait and to stay there," she said.
Follow Anna Sanders on Twitter @AnnaESanders