Seeking Advice on Renting Apartment

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    Hello all– I am new to this forum and seeking advice on renting out an apartment. We have been in Brooklyn since 2008, and our tenant (who came with the house) recently left to accept a job in another part of the country. She was paying what we believe was under market rate, but we’re not sure, so I’d like to ask your advice on what the going rents are in our neck of the woods. We have completely renovated the apartment since our tenant left, and it is on the top floor of an owner-occupied two-family. New kitchen, new bath, fresh paint, new floors, etc. We kept all of the old detail as well, so it definitely has some of the brownstone “charm” that people love about these old places. The only thing we haven’t replaced are the windows, which are in good condition. The apartment is a full floor of a brownstone, about 900 square feet and is very sunny and bright. It’s 1.5 bedrooms – one huge bedroom and one kid-sized bedroom, with living room, kitchen, bath. The kitchen has all new appliances, including a dishwasher, but no washer/dryer. We’re located in the historic district of Bed Stuy/Stuyvesant Heights, close to the Utica Avenue stop. I have been checking out Craig’s List for comparable apartments and how much landlords are asking, but it’s been difficult to make direct comparisons since nothing matches up directly in terms of location/renovation/size. Nevertheless, we are thinking of charging between $1400-1500 for the place. Is this overpriced? Underpriced? We’d just like to rent it at a fair price, so I’m hoping you might be able to give us an idea if we’re out of line. Thanks.

    17 Replies

    1. As a renter and former landlord I think this is pretty high given that floor through character filled one bedrooms I have seen in the hood go for about $1200 to $1300. Mind you I was looking at places in summer 2010 and thats the range I saw. Also I saw a lot of people clearly trying to pay their mortgage who had strangely renovated 1.5 bedrooms or 1 bedrooms that were awkward and had realtor fees to boot. Yes you have a half bedroom and a dishwasher and thats a plus. Just not sure how much people will pay for those- $100 is not unreasonable. In addition factor in that a tenant will likely pay for hotwater because of the dishwasher and this will effect their bottom line.

      Think of your audience for this space (single person, adult with child, couple, shares). I love BedStuy and Stuyvesant Heights but a lot of your target audience for this apartment can get just as nice an apartment with shorter train ride into Manhattan and in neighborhood that has more bars/amenities/parks like parts of Crown Heights. So this might be another way to check what your competition is.

      I am sure you can find someone for your price $1400-1500- cause afterall you only need to find one qualified tenant. But how long will they stay? Price competitively so that you arent raising the rent every year and your tenant isnt tempted to go where the pastures are cheaper. Do you really want to get top dollar? Or do you value a stable longterm tenant more? Balance those two needs with your pricing.

      But my experience tells me a better long term strategy is to be on the low end of the market rate or even undermarket so that you keep a good tenant in your apartment for a longer period.I would say $1200-1400. That way you avoid periods when the apartment isnt generating rent and avoid the updating (refinishing floors, painting etc) you need to secure a new tenant.

    2. Personally, I would not start low hoping to go high, it’s easier to drop a price than to raise it. I also would not get involved in the cable tv/internet situation, if the tenant runs foul of Cablevision, it ends up on you. Make sure your lease specifies that it’s a market rate apartment (in a two family that absolutely certain but there are some out there who think otherwise) and make sure that you adjust the rent to market every time you renew the lease. No matter how nice your tenants are, this is a business arrangement, so check their credit and their references. If you can have all their utilities (including heat and hot water) separately metered all the better, but factor that into the rent, if the tenant pays for heat and hot water they pay less rent than someone whose rent includes heat and hot water.

    3. Re: cable installation. Cablevision are pretty sharp when it comes to knowing 2 family set ups. But it was a very nice cable guy who told me just to call up and on automated system just press the “Add on services” prompt. Be sure apartment is non-inhabitable. You will just end up paying for the extra box – $10 or so. Also, note that there are two types of cable boxes, one for regular TV and one for High Def. Of course I got the regular box and my tenants bought a High Def when they got here. They could change it to get even better pic but they haven’t bothered to do so. I am leaving well enough alone since I don’t want Cablevision back in the place.
      Re: Router. I have one on parlor floor which sends signal to ground, parlor and top floor.

    4. Interesting. Have rents gone up since the crash?

      When we were looking to buy in 2008, floor-through 1.5 bedrooms in Stuy Heights seemed to be going for about $1200 or $1300, based on Craigslist and actual leases.

      Or were we wrong about prices back then?

    5. If you can put in a w/d that will be a huge selling point. I have rented out my place (not in your area so I can’t comment on your suggested price) and having a w/d is a big plus.

      Also, I disagree with the poster who says list a lower rent to stir up interest. Rents are negotiable but as a renter I would not be happy to see one price and then have the landlord say, sorry its going to be more. It would feel like a bait and switch and since you will be living so close to the person you don’t want to start the relationship on a bad footing.

      If the place is truly nice, you post good photos, and ask a fair rent, you will get enough interest. All you need is a handful of responses from people who like the place and are serious about renting it. Any more and it becomes a burden to show the place and answer questions and emails.

    6. Thank you everyone for your comments and suggestions. HurricaneKate, that’s a great idea re: the cable and internet…! GS3, we are 5 blocks from the subway, so it’s not too far.

    7. A similar-sounding apartment in my house rents for 1550. It’s a beautiful antique apartment located around the corner from the trains, a major grocery store and 2 POs (not as pretty as Stuy Hts but is more convenient by comparison I think) and the tenants have a free shared washer-dryer. They’ve been there for several years and I haven’t/don’t plan on raising the rent. If it vacates I’ll consider asking 1600 for it. Hope this info helps.

    8. Sounds exactly like my top floor apt. Have you thought about asking cable company to add a box to top floor? After they install it – before tenants occupy the place – you can say that rent includes cable TV. Then add a router and internet is free for them also. In that respect, your rent would be extremely fair at $1,500.

    9. That seems a pretty middle-of-the-road rent – it sounds like a pretty nice place, but it’s also fairly far out, location-wise. Our last apartment was one express stop closer to Manhattan 2br, and they were asking $1650 or $1700 when we left (and they’d put in a dishwasher. and replaced all the appliances and touched the place up a lot. sigh.)

      Since you live there, might be better to undercharge a little and use the wider net of applicants to help make sure you find a good ‘un.

    10. I was renting my 1BR parlor floor for $1500. I made it a duplex and live in it now, but it sounds smaller than your rental. 1 small BR, kitchen in LR kinda deal. I’m on the Nostrand stop. I wouldn’t go below $1500 unless there were no bites.

    11. Put it on lower side, and if you get a ton of responses, you can accept higher offers. Rents are always negotiable!

    12. Make sure you do a bcakground and credit check. In Bed Stuy you should be ecstatic if you get renters with 600 credit scores. Most of them are going to be young with not much history.

    13. Thank you all for your comments, they are much appreciated. Daveinbedstuy, I can’t give the tenants access to W/D, as it is in my kitchen! I am thinking about putting a stackable W/D in the unit, though, as I agree it would add to the value of the apartment. MaconStreetMan and Bklnite, rentometer.com seems to think $1400 to $1450 is a good deal, so I am going to post it for $1400. I’d rather be a tiny bit on the low side and get a good response to the ad. Thank you again!

    14. You can also check rentometer.com. If you post your apartment on CL with a good description and photos, you’ll get a good sense of what the market is based on the response and you can always adjust. If your ask is too high you won’t get many responses. If it’s a bargain you’ll get lots of response and you can pick someone most likely to be a good responsible tenant.

    15. I think $1,400 is the going rate for a nice floor through in the area. You may be able to charge more if it’s really nice. I think $1,500 is on the high side.

    16. You shuld be able to get that price. I rent the garden level out for $1,200 and I think that’s about $100 under market. it’s just under 700 sq ft ( not including the hallway down there where they store clothes, etc) plus they have yard access, basement storage and access to W/D in basement.

      I think yard access is a big plus as well as W/D access. Yard access may be more problematic with yours being on the top floor, but then the apt is also larger. Any reason you wn’t give them acces to W/D in basement?