Jay Morrison Jay Morrison

According to Realtor Jay Morrison: How to Rent An Apartment the Smart Way

Jay Morrison

Jay Morrison isn't your typical real estate agent. Instead of choosing the road best traveled, he opted for the one you never want to go down. "[I was in] prison at 18 at Rikers Island doing three years to life," he recalled, "and in prison, again, at age 22."

With drug trafficking charges and felonies in multiple states all before the age of 30, the realtor decided to make a change in his life to have a more prosperous outcome. "When I was on parole, I started learning finances in real estate. I was a loan officer in a mortgage company, fixed my credit and got into buying houses."

The once street hustler flipped his drug transactions to house transactions and, by the age of 27, owned six houses. Transforming his story into the success of an NBC show Open House NYC and book Hip Hop 2 Homeowner: How WE Build Wealth In America–in which the man who views himself as a "a business man that holds a real estate license"–the house-hunting agent helps mentor his community about "the power of ownership and the power of building your credit."

Finding the perfect apartment is not the best after-work activity, and many times, after you've locked in your new abode, the headache begins. Whether it's paying too much on rent or moving into the wrong neighborhood, Jay Morrison is here to help. Flip the page to get the ins and outs of renting your own place. –Sharifa Daniels

Jay Morrison
VIBE Vixen: What are the three biggest mistakes people make when looking for an apartment?
Jay Morrison: Not having their lease reviewed by an attorney. Most people think it's not really worth it. It's a few hundred bucks for an attorney but it's totally worth it. You want to get professionals that do this for a living. The apartment complex's attorneys looked at the lease when they drafted it, so why wouldn't you have an attorney look at your lease.

People don’t negotiate enough. People take the fact that the month and a half security or the first month's rent has to be that when everything's up for negotiation. You can ask for just one month's security if that’s what you want to do. You can leverage the fact that your money has value and your tenancy has value. You can try to get a better deal on an apartment if you have leverage.

Last one: rushing. Most people are in a rush when looking for an apartment and  don’t take their time and do the due dilegence to find the most bang for their buck. Most times people want to get in one place and out the other and just get the first thing smoking.

How do you know when your being gipped by a real estate agent?
Your gut. If the energy doesn’t feel right, that's not the person for you. Your agent should be transparent and authentic, and you want someone that generally cares about finding you the home of your choice. You gotta get with people that actually care about you as a client and your best interest.

What's the best utilities to have in your rental agreement?
It depends. Electric off top. If you're in a three-bedroom apartment and you're sharing it with five people, you're going to be running water like crazy. You might want to make water a priority. It all depends on your circumstances. But if you're a bachelor or single person, something else might be a priority–maintenance fees, parking, fees for a gym. If you're going to be cramming up in a large rental situation, then you want to do things like water and electric.

Jay MorrisonVV: Is it better to pay for utilities included or pay less and foot your own bill?
JM: You have to just gauge your deal in what make sense for you budget and neighborhood. If you have multiple people in the house, it's probably better to pay your own utilities and not drive the price of the rent down. It's way cheaper than having it reflected in the price, and you guys control [the utility bill] by budgeting better.

What season is it the best to look for a specific location?
The fall going into winter, even the dead of winter. Winter is where it’s the lowest market for sellers and leasers. You have a lot of people looking for places in the spring and summer, so they can get settled before the school year. The landlords have the leverage. But in the winter, it's the least demand for people moving so that's when you have the most flexibility and most chance to negotiate as a potentional tenant.

When purchasing or renting in a new area, you want to check the neighborhood during the daytime, the afternoon and morning. Check it at night around 7, 8 or 9 and actually know what you're getting into. A neighborhood can have two different personalities during the day and in the evening.

Most unsafe are for female to live.
If you drive, find [an apartment] where you can park close to your residence. You don’t want to worry about walking around the block at 2 a.m. You want someplace that is well lit at all times.

Craziest request someone wanted in their house?
Someone asked to have a wine cooler in the floor with a see through glass. It came out pretty hot.

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Solitary Alignment: 5 Self-Affirming Reads For Single Ladies On Valentine’s Day

Ahh, the Feast of Saint Valentine—the Hallmark holiday that strikes us with its arrow each year, for better or for worse, depending on your bae status. While the romantic holiday is adored and celebrated by many, if you’re still reeling over, say, your ex’s refusal to commit, chances are Feb. 14 is more of a heartache for you than anything.

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