Here’s a fact: Almost 66% of New York City residents are renters, according to the US Census circa 2000. Because competition for housing space in the city is always tight and the rental market in the New York area is not like elsewhere in the US, with the exception of San Francisco. This is why you have to be SMART about your apartment search.
What New York brokers really do?
Unlike in any other state, New York City landlords seldom advertise their vacant apartments. That’s because they don’t have to blow a fortune on ads. Real estate brokers are more than happy to assume the responsibility of marketing landlord’s apartments in exchange for earning a substantial brokerage fee from the renter, should the deal be sealed. It is also important to know that it is illegal for a landlord or owner to charge a fee to rent out his or her own apartment.
And here’s another interesting fact about New York’s rental industry: A lot of brokers do not share their rental information with others. Why? Because there are no Multiple Listing Services (MLS) in the city of New York for rental property, that includes all real estate firms. It is rather split, which means you won’t find any firm that is able to tell you all available rental properties in the city.
Because time is money to a broker, you’ll most probably be presented with a few apartments within his or her territory, and be expected to choose one of them. If you reject the few apartments you are shown, or you can’t make a decision within a few days, the broker will lose his or her interest in you and proceed with the more urgent clients. Even in the slowest real estate market, a successful broker will know who is really desperate in seeking out an apartment. Those who are actively seeking an apartment to rent will get the broker’s attention. Others are just a waste of time.
FACT: Rental brokers only tend to focus on one limited area because New York is a big city and it will take too much time and effort to go around NYC showing apartments to potential renters. Believe it or not, brokers are highly concerned with their own convenience simply because their time is money. Therefore, a broker will always want you to limit your search to the neighborhoods closest to his or her office.
The truth about free websites
Renters on a shoestring budget, on the other hand, go to sites like craigslist.org because there are no registration fees needed to access apartment information. But here’s the catch: apartments in these listings are often too good to be true or more often, ads placed by brokers that fail to adequately disclose that they are broker ads.
So don’t be surprised to find out that many, if not most, of the posted listings are from brokers. In effect, these “free websites” become an avenue for brokers to advertise for potential renters. So if you are going to end up paying a broker to find you a place to rent, then the “free website” turned out to be very expensive after all.
Free sites don’t employ anyone to validate the truthfulness of the listings, nor does anyone remove a listing when the apartment has been rented.
Not too convinced about the number of scams in free websites? Just look at craigslist.org and other similar sites (Don’t say we didn’t warn you though).
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.
There’s a better way to find a good rental apartment in NYC – Go for verified no fee listings using a New York State licensed AIV (Apartment Information Vendor). There are several, but we particularly like RDNY.com because of its extensive inventory, live customer support and listings in all boroughs of the city, except Staten Island.
Some of the others we’ve come across are RentNY.com, Rent-Direct.com and NoFeeRentDirect.com. All of these companies will give you exactly the same kind of information that brokers have, but won’t charge you the huge broker’s fee. Instead, they have a one-time subscription fee that entitles you to all of their information, listings, support, and advice for up to 90 days.