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How To Find An Apartment in NYC


First thing you must know is that there is very little you can do without a broker. I talk to friends all the time who say things like, “Oh, I’m just going to look on Craigslist and it’ll be fine. I don’t want to pay a broker fee.” Honey, no one wants to pay a broker fee, but there’s a reason they have the jobs: they know the listings.

Craigslist is good for a sublet, definitely, but if you’re looking for a lease you want value, a building you will feel safe living in for at least a year, and a great area. These things are hard to find, especially together, but it is possible!

What you should do is immediately look online at listings. Go to sites like Rent Hop, Citi-Habitats, or Naked Apartments.

The great thing about each of these sites is that you can put in the number of bedrooms you want, bathrooms and price range, which is awesome. In my life, I’ve found that these three are definitely the best options, but if you are going to go the way of Craigslist, make sure you find a listing that has a broker. Don’t speak to randos. Nothing ends well with randos.

After you start looking at listings you have to be sure to only look at apartments with at least two photos of the apartment NOT of the neighborhood, and if there are no photos, move on.

You also have to make sure that you pay attention to the fine print on each listing. If you see a 2br in TriBeCa for $1,795, it’s probably too good to be true. So, make sure you don’t fall in love with a place before figuring out the specifics about it. Square footage is insanely important to pay attention to as well.

After you’ve done all of this you probably are ready to meet with a broker. Do not tell her or him that you’re working with other people because they’ll get offended and might not want to help you out. However, it is very important, especially when apartment hunting in Manhattan, to also browse brokers so you find someone you’re comfortable with. Additionally, some brokers will ask you to give them a deposit when you start working with them to “make it easier” when you want to actually put a deposit down. Run for the hills if someone asks you this. It means they suck, they want your money, and they’re going to make your life very difficult if you decide to use another broker in the end.

The other thing to remember with brokers is that there is going to be a broker fee. Typically this is anywhere from 12%-15% but sometimes you get lucky and find a broker fee that’s 8%. There are no-fee apartments out there, but you have to do research and Naked Apartments tells you which apartments have broker fees, what they are, and which ones don’t! Additionally, some brokers are willing to discuss their fee, especially if you’re a student, so always be sure to ask if the fee is negotiable.

Also, if you do end up liking a broker a lot, ask him/her to show you other things they have in your price range. You might find something that wasn’t online and fall in love with that apartment.

The other aspect of apartment hunting that is crucial to finding a good place is making sure you view the apartment. Most brokers will want you to go during business hours, and if you have a job that’s going to be a pain in the ass. What I recommend is taking one or two days off of work (one day per week) to look for apartments all day. You can meet with different brokers, view places, and discuss your options. I realize this is New York, so two days may not be realistic, so cram as much as you can into one!

Finally, remember to have fun! Getting a new apartment is exciting! You’re going to be living either alone or with roommates (I recommend roommates) and life is about to get crazy.

[Lead image via Alinute Silzeviciute/Shutterstock]

i like smoked gouda. i like writing. i like lower case letters. i like excitement and skydiving. i want to try everything. i hate being scared. i love life.