For the type of apartment you are looking, they are often advertised and rented a month or two before they are actually available to move in. Especially in the Brownstones. Some of the newer large condo buildings if they are not selling; beware the sales market is escalating so fewer apartments will be available to rent as most developers need to sell to pay off their construction loans. That said if they are willing to rent and your paperwork is all in order; proof of legal residence for the USA (correct visa's etc.), I.D verification, proof of American income and assets. etc. You can often see it, be approved within a week and move in soon thereafter.
When moving from out of the country, it is often better to rent a temporary, normally furnished apartment for a month or two. It will give you time to establish Bank accounts etc. but also give you time to look at apartments and neighborhoods in a more rational fashion, rather desperately tying yourself into the wrong apartment for a year. Most apartments are for a minimum one year lease.
Real Park Slope, you will find many apartments advertised as Park Slope, that are not really Park Slope, id rather expensive especially for again a real 3BR. There are many other options in Brooklyn that you may well be happier with.
All this really depends on your budget, if money is no object, then anything you want can happen!
Kathryn Lilly, Broker
Realty on the Greene, LLC
You will find that most leases are 1 year leases and It can take as little as a couple of days to view a property, sign the lease and move in. I am glad to say that we enjoy keeping our rental offices open all year long :)
I hope I was able to assist you and would love to further assist you in the future with your apartment search.
Here are the answers to your questions:
1- In New York, while you will always be able to find a Real Estate Agent working - regardless of the holiday- January 1 may not be the ideal time to go visiting properties as access might be limited and applying on a Holiday may not be as ideal as the day before or after could be. Offices are closed, it might be difficult to get bank checks, etc...
That all being said, I did find myself showing an apartment last New Years Day.
2-When you view an apartment you like, it is usually best to apply as soon as possible. I have oftentimes run back to my office with a customer in order to prepare an application for submission; sometimes I have customers PDF me all of their paperwork before going to view so it can easily be forwarded.
Some landlords approve applications in an hour, while others may take a few days. It's very much case by case here and each landlord is their own particular animal.
You also might want to keep in mind that many apartments are vacant for IMMEDIATE OCCUPANCY - meaning that the landlord would be looking for a lease to start within 1-15 days of first applying.
3- Leases are generally for one year - though you may be able to sign a two year lease.
I advise you to work closely with one Real Estate agent throughout this process who will carefully walk you through the process and help you narrow down your search- or open up your options accordingly. A good agent will make sure you are prepared to apply for any apartment, and make sure to ONLY show you properties for which you would be able to qualify as some owners do not accept international tenants who do not have a credit history or a social security number (though usually something can be done.)
Point being, pick an agent you like, and stick with them. A good Agent will make sure you are thoroughly prepared to get the apartment you want and will save you loads of time and heartache in the process.
PS-Good word of advice - if possible, open up an account at a bank in the US before coming. This will be extremely helpful.