Liam McCarthy: Founder, Licensed Broker
twitter feed: @jmkbk
Lisa Shaw: Licensed Agent
Q: How much is the broker fee for apartments on your website? Do you charge application fees?
A: The broker's fee is always a 'one month fee' unless noted otherwise in the listing meaning it's the same amount as a month's rent as the apartment you are renting. We don't charge application fees - only credit check fees. Sometimes the landlord runs the credit and they charge, but if we run your credit (using GM Services running an Experian credit report) it costs $50/person. If an apartment is 'no fee' it will say so in the listing.
Q: When should I start looking for an apartment in Brooklyn?
We recommend 2-6 weeks before you need to move. The typical availability timeline is 4-6 weeks before the lease start date (May 1, for example) you'll see occupied apartments that will need minimal cleaning and painting upon vacancy. About a month before your start date vacant apartments hit the market - either for immediate occupancy with minor painting and cleaning, or for the next month if more substantial renovations are needed. By the last 2 weeks before your start date most of the previous catagory apartments have already been rented, but some apartments under renovation are nearing completion and are being shown for the first time.
It's not always possible to time your new lease with the expiration of your own, so it's important to know that landlords are usually looking for a lease to start within 2 weeks of viewing, so if you see an apartment April 15th the landlord would want the lease to start no later than May 1.
Q: What do I need to apply for an apartment?
A: Some landlords are fine with our application (click at left to print the PDF); some landlords have their own application, so which application you use will depend on the specific landlord. However, most of our landlords require an application plus the following paperwork:
- A Letter of Employment stating how long you have been employed and your salary
- Last Two Paystubs
- The 1st and last pages of your tax return from the previous year or w-2 form.
- 1 Bank Statement
- A Photo ID
Every landlord that we work with requires that we check your credit. If you don't know your credit score or how good your credit is, we recommend annualcreditreport.com which is the site set up by the federal government so you can run your credit - with all 3 credit bureaus - without having to cancel a subscription or pay any fees. This will be for informational purposes only - it will not be a substitute for the credit the landlord requires. We use Experian, which has a product with a similar score range as Fico.
Q: What rent can I afford?
A: Most NYC landlords require that your annual salary equals 40x the monthly rent of the apartment you are applying for (i.e. $60,000 annually for a $1500/month apartment, etc). If you make less than that, you may be required to provide a Guarantor, usually a parent or relative, who will be legally responsible for your rent if you stop paying. Not all landlords accept guarantors though, so if your income is either too low (or off the books) please let us know; the usual solution for that is to provide extra months of security deposit to offset the increased risk a low income engenders.
Q: What will I need for a lease signing?
A: Every landlord we work with requires at least the 1st month's rent and Security Deposit be paid in either Cashier's Checks or Money Orders which are available at your bank or Post Office. The broker's fee can be paid for by personal check.
Q: Will running my credit again lower my score?
A: Not according to Fair Isaac, better known as the folks who bring you the all important FICO score:
- "What is an "inquiry"?
- When you apply for credit, you authorize those lenders to ask or "inquire" for a copy of your credit report from a credit bureau. When you later check your credit report, you may notice that their credit inquiries are listed. You may also see listed there inquiries by businesses that you don't know. But the only inquiries that count toward your FICO score are the ones that result from your applications for new credit." [my italics] If I run your credit it will show up as "GM Services" on your credit report.
Here's the full page from their website: http://www.myfico.com/crediteducation/creditinquiries.aspx
Q: What's with that ridiculous name? What do the initials stand for?
A: Liam used to work with Joe Montalto at JMK Realty Inc and when he started working in Brooklyn he was still working under Joe's license. In the end he decided to keep the name for continuity, and have re-titled the acronym Join Me [in] Kensington Brooklyn. If you've got a better one, please let us know.