• New York, while still supply-constrained and expensive for renters, has a special allure.
  • A new AppFolio national survey showed that technology helps move units, but word-of-mouth and old-fashioned cachet still helps.
  • In constrained markets, many renters are paying half of their income in monthly rent.
Jose Antonio Sanchez / Shutterstock.com

Jose Antonio Sanchez / Shutterstock.com

While the Big Apple’s lure is everlasting, the methods for finding and leasing an apartment there are ever-changing. The shifting landscape includes not only new technology to find units and rent them instantaneously, but also opinions about what makes for a good rental arrangement and how to afford it.

AppFolio Property Management commissioned a survey in January to examine criteria that renters are looking for in the current multifamily space. It polled 1,500 renters across the country through Google Consumer Surveys to take the pulse of the rental market.

The survey results are meant to be used as advice to professional property managers, and even though the survey didn’t differentiate by metro, AppFolio was able to draw some conclusions about individual markets.

Vice President of Product at AppFolio Nat Kunes said that a feature of AppFolio software that works extremely well in competitive markets like New York City or San Francisco is the ability to process applications and leases almost instantaneously. Where the rental process used to take several weeks, property managers can now present a potential renter with an iPad that can use AppFolio to do everything from a credit check to signing a lease on the spot.

“Millennials will see this kind of transaction as the new normal,” Kunes said.

Kunes went on to share that there are a few uniquely-NYC neighborhoods that draw renters merely by their reputation– especially Brooklyn.

[graphiq id=”5NJ2JcW1hqZ” title=”New York Demographics” width=”630″ height=”567″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/5NJ2JcW1hqZ” link=”http://places.findthehome.com/l/48/New-York” link_text=”New York Demographics | FindTheHome”]

And in a throwback to the six friends who rented apartments across the hall from each other in New York City TV show, word-of-mouth is still a reliable way to find apartments. Kunes’s survey indicated that it was the second-most chosen way of finding a unit among those surveyed, with 23 percent relying on the method.

Some of the key survey findings were:

  • Online convenience can make or break a signed lease
  • With more consumers renting versus buying, the rental market has become increasingly crowded
  • Nearly one-third of respondents (29 percent) said they found the rental listing for their current residence online, which was the highest-ranked way to find a unit
  • Renters prefer to complete apartment tasks from their phone, iPad or computer
  • An impressive 46 percent of those polled prefer to pay their rent digitally—through an app, website or automatic withdrawal
  • Nearly a quarter of renters eliminate a property from their search if photos or videos of the property are unavailable
  • Bad reviews (of the property itself or of the property manager) are also a deterrent, with 27 percent of respondents choosing this as the top reason for eliminating a property from their search
  • Thirty-two percent of respondents said half or more of their monthly income goes toward rent.

Kunes said the last bullet is especially important in supply-constrained metros such as NYC. While in the past, a “healthy” ratio for figuring out if a renter could afford a unit was about one-third of their monthly income devoted to rent, that’s no longer the case.

Email Kimberley Sirk.

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