The key to finding the right NYC apartment is… not your broker, not the free websites, not even having lots of money (although that helps). The key to finding the right apartment is both obvious and hidden inside you.
It can’t be the free apartment websites, such as craigslist.org, because…
The free websites don’t employ anyone to validate the truthfulness of their listings, nor does anyone remove a listing when the apartment has been rented. Many free listings are bait-and-switch come-ons posted by brokers or are total frauds run by unscrupulous con artists who take advantage of New York’s costly rental market.
The Associated Press released a story describing the problems with fraud on craigslist.org: The New York section is now so rife with con artists that they may begin charging landlords to discourage illegitimate listings. Always beware of the con artist’s creativity when you use a free website.
It can’t be newspaper classified ads because…
The old-fashioned method of using the real estate ads in the local paper is not as effective in New York as it is in other towns for two main reasons:
1 – In New York, most of the ads you’ll see are from brokers who will charge you a broker’s fee, or the apartments will be in very expensive buildings with high monthly rents where the owner will pay the broker to bring them a renter for their overpriced apartment.
2 – Most of the apartments listed will be off the market by the time you read the ads. Newspaper ads have a long lead time, that is, they must go to the paper several days ahead of the day they’ll actually be published. Apartments are rented very quickly in New York, and what’s available on the day the ads go to the newspaper can be very different from what’s available the day the paper is printed. Many ads are used by brokers to grab your attention so you’ll call and become their client, even if the apartment you’re calling about is no longer available (or was never available).
The Biggest Secret of All in Finding a Good Rental Apartment…
… is this: the right attitude.
Have the right attitude and you’ll find the right place. Have the wrong attitude, and your hunt for an apartment can be difficult. But what do I mean by the right attitude?
To a landlord, renting apartments is a business, no more, no less. If you don’t pay the rent, the landlord loses money. If you damage the apartment, the landlord loses money by having to make repairs. If you’re a bad neighbor, the landlord can lose other tenants because of your behavior. For small landlords, it doesn’t take too many nonpaying or destructive or disruptive tenants to put their business in financial jeopardy.
The right attitude for you is to let the landlord know that you understand their business. Let the landlord know that paying the rent on time is of paramount importance to you. Let the landlord know you’ll be a good neighbor, and that you’ll take good care of their apartment. No troublemaker here!
You will also convey the right attitude by dressing well, by being polite to everyone you meet, and by being prepared with all of your necessary paperwork when you visit apartments. Take this advice, and you will be ahead of most renters.
There are more terrific tips and hints available to you in Essential Guide for Smart Renters. I know of no better free compilation of information about finding a rental apartment in New York City. Go take a look right now!
Laurence Rosenberg is a 30 year veteran of NYC real estate, including several years involved in converting apartment buildings from rentals to co-ops and condos, and working as a Sales Manager for one of New York’s largest real estate companies. Throughout his career, Laurence has always maintained an involvement with renting apartments. More recently, Laurence owned a successful brokerage company in New York’s Greenwich Village, Swift & Watson Realty. But his proudest achievement in real estate is being a founder and president of Rent-Direct.com and RDNY.com.
Bringing information on available rentals to the masses without charging an arm and a leg (the broker fee) has allowed me to help more New Yorker’s find an apartment they can afford than most real estate professionals ever do in their lifetime. Ultimately, everyone needs a place to live they can afford. We deliver on that mission at minimal cost to the renters.