Figuring Out the Down Payment for a NYC Apartment

If people are new to renting apartments in New York City, they often encounter sticker shock when they find out how much they have to pay in order to get the keys. This article explores what’s required for a down payment on an NYC apartment.

When it comes to renting an apartment in NYC, the money needed for a down payment can cost as much as the down payment needed for a mortgage in another city. If you think this is a concept that people in other parts of the country find difficult to wrap their brains around, imagine how tough it can be for the New Yorkers who actually have to come up with the cash. New York City residents pay some of the highest rents in the world, which makes for daunting down payments.

If you’re planning on renting an apartment in NYC, the following information can help you figure out how much moolah you’ll need to bring to the table. In order to paint a clearer picture of how much it will cost to rent an apartment in the city, let’s create a hypothetical tenant named Don. Don’s real estate agent has just found him an amazing two-bedroom apartment in SoHo for $4,400 a month. Let’s see how much Don will have to fork over on lease-signing day in order to get the keys to his castle.

  • First and last month’s rent: NYC landlords will usually require that tenants pay at least first and last month’s rent. Some require more, depending on the credit-worthiness of the tenant, but Don’s landlord is fine with first and last month’s rent.
    • First and last month’s rent on Don’s apartment: $8,800.
  • Security deposit: Most landlords will want tenants to pay some sort of security deposit in addition to the first and last month’s rent. That security deposit basically amounts to the landlord’s insurance, so that if a tenant skips out early on the rent or causes any kind of damage, there’s some money to cover any losses. The usual amount of a security deposit is a month’s rent, although some landlords charge more. Don’s landlord only requires a single month’s rent as a security deposit.
    • Security deposit for Don’s apartment: $4,400.
  • Broker’s fee: Don scored such an amazing apartment because he worked with a broker. Brokers, especially those in NYC, usually have information about the best apartments available, often before they hit the market. Many landlords list their apartments with brokers so that the brokers can do all the screening and vetting of potential renters. Brokers can show tenants tons of apartments before the tenants find one that works. For all of that legwork and searching, brokers are usually paid anywhere from a month’s rent to 15 percent of the yearly rent.
    • Broker’s fee for Don’s apartment: $4,400–$7,920.
  • Total down payment for Don’s apartment in SoHo: $17,600–$21,120.

Keep in mind that this is just a hypothetical example. When it comes to your own apartment hunt, there will be many different possible scenarios for down payments. If tenants get apartments directly from landlords without going through brokers, they don’t have to pay a broker’s fee. Some landlords simply require a month’s rent and a month’s deposit in order for tenants to move in, skipping a security deposit altogether — this is often the case with small buildings or brownstones. By contrast, luxury buildings run by major management corporations tend to have stricter guidelines. No matter what, if you’re looking to rent in NYC, don’t forget to factor apartment down payments into your search.

Image Source: Flickr/Damian Gadal


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