With nearly 4,000 apartments available for rent in New York City, you’d think snagging the one you love would be easy. But like everything else in New York, apartment rentals move at a fast pace. You have to be ready, with one foot on the starting line, to win the race to the apartment you want.

Here are some tips to put you ahead of the competition.

  • Before you start looking, decide what you really want in an apartment. Do you need a grassy area to walk your dog? A balcony? Make a list of your requirements so you don’t forget anything.

  • Don’t start looking until you know when you want to move. Following up on apartments just out of curiosity will burn you out. And prices can change with the seasons. They’re usually higher in the summer.

  • Have your paperwork ready. Among the things you’ll need are PDFs of recent tax returns, bank statements, and paycheck stubs. You’ll also need photocopies of your ids, a letter confirming your employment, and a reference from your current landlord.

  • Check the listings online late in the week. Most rentals are posted just before the weekend and are taken down early in the week. Be sure to take advantage of all the apps and websites that list apartments for rent. Many will send you an email when a new listing posts. Check the brokerages’ websites, too. Since the apps charge a listing fee, not all agents post there.

  • When you see something you like, call or text the broker right away. There’s no time for emails when you probably have a lot of competition.

  • Measure the furniture you want to take with you, and take a tape measure with you when you look at apartments. Measure every wall and nook and cranny to make sure everything you want will fit.

  • Take pictures when you look at apartments and store them and other information in the Notes app on your phone. That will help you remember details about the apartments you’ve seen.

  • Leave enough time to get rid of the things you don’t want to take. Donate them or try Craig’s List and the Facebook Buy/Sell/Trade pages. Don’t just toss stuff in the trash. The landfills are crowded enough!

Being prepared for your apartment hunting adventure will give you an advantage when competing against other buyers for a property and make the entire endeavor go more smoothly. Finding a new apartment can be complicated and difficult in New York, so always make sure you’re ready before you get started.