Finding an apartment in New York City can be a daunting experience. In the old days, like a year ago, the process was to first gather all of your paperwork, proof of income, a letter from your landlord saying you are a good tenant, references etc. and then look at apartments. You could only look at apartments the month before your lease was up because landlords wanted you to move in immediately. In the old days, when you saw an apartment that you liked you had to instantly make the decision that you wanted that apartment and then sprint to the bank to get a cashier’s check for first month’s rent and the security deposit. You had to hurry because in the half hour it would take you to get that check someone else could, and sometimes did, swoop in and scoop up that apartment.
This year, with the economy in the state it’s in, New York City apartment hunting is a little different. Landlords are reducing rents, offering incentives of free rent for several months and throwing in amenities. It’s a renters market—a totally new story.
In this new environment, The Queen of Cold Calling decided to move and so started looking for a new apartment. Sadly, along the way she saw many new business development mistakes and missed sales opportunities. Today she shares the sales lessons learned while apartment hunting in the hopes that you will never make these mistakes and thus, not miss any sales opportunities that come your way.
Lesson #1: Listen to what your prospect tells you.
I had four basic requirements for my apartment in New York City:
1. The building must take cats.
3. A bathtub.
4. Good closet space.
The broker I started with showed me tiny, dark apartments with no closets and sometimes no bathtub.
I stopped going out with him.
Lesson #2: Don’t try to trick your prospect. It won’t work.
Another interesting phenomenon in the New York City residential real estate market is that landlords are now frequently paying the brokers’ fees. Traditionally in residential real estate the client pays the broker. Today, to entice tenants many landlords have taken over paying that fee. They call these types of apartments “no fee” apartments. They’re not really “no fee” they’re really “the landlord pays the fee” apartments.
Because there are so many of these “the landlord pays the fee” apartments around I asked my next broker to only show me “no fee” apartments. Instead of following my directions this broker showed an apartment where I would be responsible for paying the fee. He told me this after I’d already schlepped there to look and had indicated some interest. Since this was in total contradiction of what I’d asked for I turned the apartment down and fired that broker.
Lesson #3: You’re much better off being too early than too late in your prospects sales process.
Many brokers now list apartments on Craig’s list. They use this as a lead generator. I looked on Craig’s list hoping to find some great deals and ended up speaking with a number of brokers. As it was mid-February and technically my lease wasn’t up till the end of April most of these brokers didn’t want to help me. Instead they told me they’d get back in touch with me in April because that’s how it always worked in the old days.
I knew I wanted to move and wanted to take my time to make sure I could find the apartment I wanted so I simply kept looking. I did finally find a great apartment through another broker and I signed the lease. Now all the brokers who wouldn’t talk to me in February are calling. They want to show me apartments. I tell them they’re too late. They’ve missed the opportunity. I’ve already signed a lease on my new apartment.
So, dear readers, as you are reading this I am moving into my new home in New York City. It’s on the 31st floor facing south with amazing sunlight and an amazing view. It also has a bathtub, great closet space and of course, takes cats. In all the years I’ve lived in New York City I’ve never lived in a high rise, so I’m excited.
I hope that you will take these lessons to heart and not lose out on sales opportunities that come your way.© Copyright 2009 Wendy Weiss