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FIND YOUR NYC APARTMENT

NYC Apartment Hunting Guide
Finding a New York Apartment is not easy. This is one of the few times where you might ask yourself, “Why did I move to New York City?” The NYC apartment hunting process is about as stressful as any city's gets. Finding and securing an apartment that meets all of your needs is one of the most agonizing and difficult parts of the process. In more than two decades of service in NYC, Oz has had to change homes a handful of times, and all of our employees have dealt with the same process you’re going through now; in other words, we know how you feel. In our years of experience we’ve learned a lot about navigating the New York City real estate market, and we’ve met a lot of very knowledgeable, adept, and helpful people that have taught us even more. Oz has decided to pass that knowledge onto you, with a little help from our friends. 

In our apartment hunting guide, we’ll walk you through the most important parts of the process: starting with setting your criteria, making key decisions about how you will search for your ideal apartment, finding a suitable amount of listings to choose from, reviewing your choices, and ultimately acquiring a new apartment or lease. Get started below.

 

STEP 1: KNOW YOUR APARTMENT CRITERIA
STEP 2: FIND A REAL ESTATE AGENT
STEP 3: APARTMENT APPS & REAL ESTATE WEBSITES
STEP 4: NO FEE APARTMENTS IN NYC
STEP 5: CREATE A PREP LIST FOR YOUR HUNT
STEP 6: OPTIMIZE YOUR APARTMENT VIEWING
STEP 7: HOW TO APPLY FOR AN APARTMENT

 

8. How to Apply for an Apartment - A quick guide to your apartment application that will help you make sure that nothing falls through and you get the apartment you have your eyes on. 

 

 

 

Step 1: Know Your Apartment Criteria

Apartments NYC

 

So you’ve decided that you’re going to find a new apartment in New York City. That’s great! The journey of a thousand miles (or maybe in your case, only a few blocks) begins with a single step. The first step is setting your criteria. This will help you narrow down your search to the apartments you truly want.

 

PRICE RANGE

 

Price Ranges for Apartments in NYC 

 

The most important criteria is PRICE. Right away, you need to determine two numbers:

 

  1. What you can afford to spend

  2. What you would like to spend

These numbers can fluctuate based on a number of factors, like taxes, commuting costs, and other variables that differ based on the apartment and the neighborhood. It is imperative that you have a ballpark number in mind for what you’re looking to pay for your NYC apartment.


DETERMINING YOUR PRICE RANGE

Determining what you can afford and would like to spend ultimately comes down to the income and wealth you have at your disposal. Your desired price is a matter of choice, but there is a bit of a science to affordability. Economists have often cited the optimal maximum amount of your income to spend on living expenses is 30%. In New York City, however, it's very common for households to spend 40% or more of their income on housing.. Your milage may vary, as these statistics prove. Keep in mind factors such as your savings, wealth, job security, other potential earnings, and value when setting your ideal price points. Once you come to a price point, you can begin looking at an optimal apartment size. If you’re buying an apartment, keep in mind the average down payment on an apartment is about 27.1% according to Streeteasy. If you’re renting an apartment with a fee, keep in mind that the fee will add roughly 15% on top of your monthly rent (but often can be negotiated down.)

 

APARTMENT SIZE

 

Apartment Sizes  


The next step of your process is to nail down the number of bedrooms/bathrooms you’ll want in your new NYC apartment, and/or the amount of square feet it should have. Whether or not you’re planning on moving in with a partner, splitting space with roommates, or flying solo is up to you, but you need to consider what you and/or your group can afford in choosing your apartment. Most NYC apartments are either studios, one bedrooms or two bedroom apartments; you can always install temporary walls, provided the unit has adequate square feet.  

 

NEIGHBORHOOD

 

NYC Neighborhood 

 

Now that you’ve determined your ideal apartment size and what you can spend, neighborhoods where those units fall under your price range should become clear. Based on your workplace commuting needs, your preferred lifestyle, and other criteria, you can pick between those neighborhoods and determine which one is right for you. Factors other than proximity and price matter here as well: for example, families are better off in areas like Park Slope and Sunnyside. It’s best to have a handful of NYC neighborhoods to sample listings from and to keep an open mind; you never know when a great value will come up.

 

 

AMENITIES

 

 NYC Amenities

 

Not all apartments, even if they’re the same size-wise, price-wise, and location-wise, are created equal. The additional extras that some apartments offer their residents are called amenities. Some very basic amenities that are taken for granted elsewhere shouldn’t be in New York City. Many of the city’s apartments are very basic and are often missing certain things you’d find in almost any other home in the world due to the spatial constraints of NYC living. Other factors that could be considered amenities are more commonly disputed. Some amenities are absolutely essential for those who need them; for example, a tenant with a pet absolutely needs a pet-friendly apartment. Others are less vital. Consider how important the following amenities are to you when you’re looking for an apartment:

 

  • Pet Friendliness

  • Laundry in building

  • Doorman

  • Dishwasher

  • Stove / Oven

  • Gym in building

  • Natural Light

  • Windows/Views

  • Balcony/Perch

  • Rooftop access

  • Heat / AC Quality

  • Elevator

  • Low Noise levels

  • Parking

  • Lawn/Backyard

 

PROXIMITY

 

NYC neighborhood Proximity 

 

An NYC apartment’s proximity to a number of places can also be considered an amenity, in a way. Keep in mind your unit’s proximity to the following when weighing the benefits of a certain apartment:

 

  • Public Transportation

  • Laundromats

  • Grocers

  • Convenience Stores

  • Restaurants

  • Parks & Outdoor Space

  • Schools

  • Gyms

  • Parking

  • Nightlife

  • Barber / Salon

  • Other Transportation

Also keep the crime rate in the neighborhood in mind.

Once you’ve figured out exactly what you want from your apartment, it’s time to make another choice: broker or no broker? Chances are, you could benefit from the hand of an experienced pro helping you throughout your apartment hunting process; but is it worth the price? Packing enough time to search for the right apartment into a crazy and hectic NYC schedule can often prove impossible. If you decide that you want to hire a broker, choosing your broker should not be taken lightly. Our friend Marty Morua, a real estate broker at the Corcoran Group,  gave us important advice on how to find a good agent and determine if that agent is right for you and your apartment search.

Read Marty’s guide, Finding an NYC Real Estate Agent You Can Trust

Want to skip the broker and handle your apartment search on your own? Check out our huge list of apartment search websites to utilize in your apartment search.

 

 

STEP 2: fIND A REal estate agent

NYC Real Estate Agent

There are regrettably some industries that tend to have bad names, and it's generally a small percentage of individuals that give a bad name to the masses. Movies and newspaper headlines have also created a poor image of some people in professions such as lawyers, car salespeople, stock brokers and real estate agents.

There are by far more wonderful professionals than bad ones in the industries I mentioned, but where can you find them? Recommendations maybe? Yup….Word of mouth is probably at the very top of the list. Your friends, family, neighbors and even the baristas selling you coffee at Starbucks that you've gotten friendly with are people you trust who can help you in your search.

So what about Real Estate brokers and agents? There are so many; but where do you start to find one? Besides the trusted word of mouth, is there anything else you can do? What other due diligence can you do in hopes of finding a solid real estate agent?

One of the most important choices an apartment renter, home seller or home buyer can make is finding that right real estate agent. Many take it for granted and guess what…. even referrals don't always work out. Some things to consider are:

 

  • Commissions
  • Communication
  • Past customers
  • Interviewing process
  • Social Media
  • Marketing

 

COMMISSIONS

Sure, commissions are negotiable, but don't simply chose the cheapest brokerage firm because they're the cheapest. There are many gimmicks like no-fee or “we buy all cash”, but sometimes there is a catch to reel you in. When a real estate agent helps someone find an apartment, there is always a fee (commission) paid. No fees generally might mean the landlord pays the agents fee or the fee might be built into the rent (meaning a higher monthly rent). Some real estate firms advertise "We buy all Cash", but don't expect to get fair market value for your home. They will not pay you what your home's true value is and give you a lowball offer. If you want the most dollars for home you don't want to get talked into one of these offers. I love buying things on sale (who doesn't) but when it comes to finding a great apartment rental, buying or selling your home, is cheaper always better? You don't want a discounted commission and then end up with discounted services. Some real estate firms offer super low commissions, but will that include:

 

  • Are they Advertising and Marketing your property for sale in all local newspapers on your behalf?
  • Do they have a highly rated/searchable website that gets lots of traffic?
  • Do they use Social Media to promote your home (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or SnapChat,)?
  • Do they do direct mailings to all your surrounding neighbors when selling your home?
  • Are they fully committed and available to show your home for sale at any moment?
  • Do they give a complete market analysis and comparable report to best price your home?
  • Do they consult or offer staging recommendations to get the most money for your home?
  • Are they full time professionals or part-time agents?

 

COMMUNICATION

How To Find the best Realtor


I've met countless other agents while helping my clients find apartments for rent. Since most real estate firms operate on a shared listing system, co-broke real estate partnerships are a normal part of the rental process. As an agent, I expect the other brokerage firm's agents to be as responsive as possible (with me) in order to help get their listings rented (and more importantly, help the client find a new home/apartment to rent). Regrettably this is not the case, and not all agents are easily accessible. When working with a real estate agent, make sure they are committed to responding to you within a reasonable time frame. Besides using phone calls as communication, ask if they are open to communicating via text, email, Skype, Apple's FaceTime, WhatsApp, (DM) Direct Messaging via Twitter, Facebook's messenger app, et cetera. When you're searching for an apartment to rent, how creative will the real estate agent be in terms of communicating with you? This is true of not only communicating with you, but with others on your behalf too. Will your real estate agent have timely communications with the landlords of apartments you're interested in renting, the building management firms or other agents in order to help you find your future apartment? Please don't worry about hurting their feelings, or thinking it's an awkward question, and just ask them. Pay attention to their reaction and how they respond.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA

Social media Presence

 

Some of the best real estate agents do not have an online presence. That's common in smaller mom and pop firms, but in today's world many real estate firms do have some or a great deal of online presence. Beyond a website, there are several important Social Media pages you should investigate before choosing an agent. Any agent can post their listings, and that's a very important part of showcasing what apartments they have for rent or sale, but look beyond that. Do they share information? Do they share tips for renters, sellers or buyers? Do they give free advice without asking for anything in return? Do they give tips and advice on moving with pets, or how to find a trustworthy moving company like Oz Moving, or how to negotiate lease terms? Do they post helpful Blogs on a regular basis? Check what social media pages they have and what they are posting. Do they have a Twitter or Facebook page but never post anything? Don't just look at the number of listings they have on their websites. Look at their profiles on these sites to get a better idea:

 

  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn                                         
  • Google+
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest

 

PAST CUSTOMERS

Whether you're selling a house, condo or coop apartment, or looking to rent or buy one, it's a good idea to try and speak with your agent’s past clients. Sure, many real estate brokerage firm websites have prior client testimonials…..but are they for real? Getting personal recommendations from a trusted friend or family member, who's used a particular real estate agent is probably one of the best ways of speaking to a past customer……but what if you don't have that luxury? Yelp is one great way to see what others have experienced. Type in the name of the real estate brokerage firm on Yelp and see what pops up. You can also  check the agent’s LinkedIn page and see if anyone has written a recommendation for them. Ask the prospective agent if they have a list of previous clients who are willing to speak with you. If they give you a list you can randomly call a few past clients and ask questions such as:

 

  • What was the worst part working with your real estate agent?
  • Did they communicate on a regular basis and through what means?
  • Were there any delays on their end?
  • Was the fee/commission they charged worth it?
  • Would you use them again?

Don't be shy or embarrassed to ask a prospective real estate agent questions. You ARE interviewing them and they WANT your business. Even if a friend recommended them, please also use your gut instincts. Make sure you really feel good, not rushed or fast talked, and that you are genuinely feeling comfortable with the agent you're speaking with. I'm no psychologist, but that gut instinct you've experienced in your life is real and not your imagination. Go with it.

 

COURTESY OF MARTY MORUA

NYC REAL ESTATE FIRMS TO PICK FROM

 

 

 

step 3: APARTMENT APPS & REAL ESTATE WEBSITES

Moving Company App

A lot of New Yorkers don’t use a broker to hunt for NYC apartments; they simply use apartment finding real estate websites and apps to find their new home. Thanks to the awesome power of the world wide web, it’s simple to find plenty of listings that fit your criteria from the comfort of your own home. There are a plethora of websites and apps out there to utilize in order to find the right apartment for you. Here’s a lot of websites where you can get started.

 

ESSENTIAL NYC APARTMENT HUNTING SITES

 
  • StreetEasy - Perhaps NYC’s best Apartment site, Streeteasy’s brand awareness has peaked in the last year after a series of subway ads and a data team that produces viral insights about NYC real estate. Search for apartments for sale or for rent, with or without broker fees. Sort apartments by any kind of criteria, including various amenities, neighborhoods, or by proximity to an address. Listings will contain all kinds of information about the apartment, including nearly all its amenities, its transport options, its price fluctuations, its school zoning, and more.
  • Zillow - Zillow is a nationwide site that actually owns streeteasy, but has New York City listings on its own site. Zillow is map-based, where Streeteasy operates more like a search engine.
  • Trulia - Trulia offers map-based and list-based viewing. Trulia listings tell you plenty about its apartments as well, with an abundance of additional information about the surrounding area and a commute estimator. Users can also find a mortgage professional & get pre-approved, or find a real estate agent to help them with their search. The site is useful for renters, buyers, and sellers.
  • Craigslist - Everyone should know about Craigslist. Craigslist is the 2016 version of what the classified section in a newspaper once was. There should be no shortage of available listings to sample, but there may not be a lot of information on these listings. Anyone can post to craigslist, so buyer beware.
  • Facebook - FB isn’t just for keeping up with Oz Moving - you can also find an apartment. Dedicated FB Groups such as “New York City Housing, Rooms, Apartments, Sublets” Have a huge amount of members and plenty of listings. The best part; you can communicate with the list-er and review their background instantly, since they’re using their FB profile.
  • CityRealty- One of NYC’s most comprehensive apartment websites, City Realty features market data, apartment listings for rent and for sale, previous sale and rental data, and even guides to New York neighborhoods. For sellers, CR has another platform, “The Seller’s Collective”. Signing up for free at CityRealty.com will get you access to live chat about your apartment search with their team to help you hook up with the right people and get your search on track.
  • NakedApartments - NakedApartments has a hybrid of map and list-based search results. A variety of filters are available for your search. Search results show if the apartment has a fee, and the agent selling the apartment (if they register). For renters only.
  • Apartments.com -  Apartments.com, in addition to employing  Jeff Goldblum and Lil’ Wayne to appear in their commericals, combines map and list-based search results, and allows users to filter by “specialities” (including senior, student & military), star-ratings, and various kinds of amenities, including “interior amenities” and “community amenities”.
  • Homes.com - National website Homes.com offers listings accross the country, with not as many in New York City. Your search query can utilize many filters and you may search by posting time, number of rooms, and various other criteria on the well laid-out Homes.com interface.
  • Realtor.com - Realtor.com lists properties for sale or rent from real estate brokers. You can search through listings yourself, or find a broker to help you with your apartment search.
  • Rent.com - A great site for young professionals, Rent.com has plenty of affordable listings in NYC. Rent.com has “legit” listings which have been personally visited by their team.  Listings include a map view to place the apartment to its nearest transit, and google street view.
  • NY Times Real Estate - The NYT’s real estate section also offers plenty of apartment listings. Their search tools are fairly robust the section and isn’t overly promotional.


NYC APARTMENT HUNTING APPS

  • Zumper - With Instant Apply, Send applications with one-click and save paper.
  • Oliver - A new No-Fee Apartments hunting app.
  • MoveMent Apartments - App recommended by the NYT, features geotagged Video listings.
  • RadPad - Find Apartments and Pay Your Rent with RadPad, an Apple “top 10 best new app”.
  • Quo - A rental concierge service that finds apartments matching your needs & books viewings.
  • Abodo- The Abodo app has a free concierge that finds apartments within your set criteria.
  • Flip - Flip allows apartment hunters to connect with renters who no longer want their leases.

 

 

NYC REAL ESTATE FIRMS

The city’s biggest brokerage firms often will have listings on their websites. Keep in mind that you’re usually getting a certain kind of apartment if you use a broker. 

 

 

NYC NO-FEE APARTMENT SITES

 

  • NYBits - NYBits is a text-based apartment site with many no-fee listings mostly sorted by building.
  • UrbanEdgeNY - All of UrbanEdge’s listings come from property managers or leasing agents.
  • Urban Sherpa - UrbanSherpa works with hundreds of property managers to list apartments.
  • Lovely - Lovely is a data-driven rental site; its search is dynamic, but has less info about landlords.
  • http://rent-direct.com/ or RDNY or RentNY are a paid service where users can search through a plethora of no-fee listings
  • The Listings Project - A weekly newsletter of listings catered to the creative community.
  • LandLord Links -Landlord Links is a paid service for searching listings directly from landlords.
  • GoNoFee.com - GoNoFee specializes in Manhattan listings and provides good photos.
  • Abode - Abode’s no fee listings use picture-centric search & on-site messaging.
  • LeaseBreak.com - Leaseholders post their lease on LeaseBreak to look for someone to take it over.
  • InsideDigs - InsideDigs is a peer-to-peer website that lists apartments before their leases expire.
  • Flip [App] - Flip allows apartment hunters to connect with renters who no longer want their leases.
  • Oliver [App] - This No-Fee Apartment hunting app allows users to schedule showings.

 

NYC PROPERTY MANAGER SITES

Inquiring directly at a property manager’s website is another good way to get a no-fee apartment. This might take a little bit of extra effort (digging for the website, inquiring about availabilities) but can be quite fruitful. Here are some resources to help you find the right property manager site for your individual search;

 

 

 

 

OTHER NYC APARTMENT SITES

 

  • Padmapper - Padmapper offers a unique UI - a clickable map is right on the homepage.
  • RentHop - RentHop sorts listings by quality score, found via their “HopScore” algorithm.
  • SpareRoom- On SpareRoom, leaseholders look for roommates to fill their spare rooms.
  • EasyRoommate.com -Lease holders can find roommates on EasyRoommate, and vice versa.
  • Sublet.com - Sublet.com is not just for Sublets. The site has full apartment & single room rentals.
  • Roomster - Roomster uses your facebook profile to help you find a room or a roommate.
  • Campus Cribz - CampusCribz has listings for NYC students near colleges (CUNY, NYU, etc.)
  • HotPads - HotPads’s map based search tool helps find ideal apartments in your preferred area.
  • Rent Jungle - RentJungle’s search interface is clunky, but it has useful tools like “Compare Rent.”
  • My New Place - MyNewPlace has plenty of listings and filters, but a lacking search interface.
  • My Apartment Map - My Apartment Map’s listings include descriptions from the listing agent.
  • Apartable - Apartable has plenty of listings with good data, but the site’s clunky search is list-only.
  • RentJungle - RJ has some useful rental data, but its map system is a little clunky in dense areas.
  • Call it Home - Clunky search, but dynamic map zoom allows users to circle in on specific areas
  • iRent - Map-based site;  allows users to filter by pet friendliness.
  • Trovit - Like Craigslist (classified ads), but only for homes, cars, and jobs.
  • RealRentals - Rental site that offers helpful search filtering on lease start dates & lease length
  • Apartment List - Rental site, users can filter search by available amenities; utilizes map & pictures
  • ShowMetheRent - Shows listings in list format - can filter by time updated to show new listings
  • forrent.com - Has useful search filters, but only lists buildings’ phone numbers to check avails.
  • RentalHouses.com - Lists buildings’ phone numbers to call and check avails.
  • Apartments Guide - Use AG to search through buildings meant for multifamily communities.
  • Rentals.com - Find single-family units for rent.
  • RentLingo - RL has fewer listings than other sites, but offers a neat “street level” analysis tool.
  • Condo.com - Condo.com has a lot of sale and rent listings and good search tools to utilize.
  • Walkscore - Walkscore algorithmically rates its listings 0-100 based on what is in their area.
  • nycdwellers.com - This site is dedicated to NYC listings but has a lacking search interface.
  • CitySpade - CitySpade is an apartment hunting startup with some exciting tools, but fewer listings.
  • HomeFinder- HomeFinder has a dynamic search tool and plenty of listings in NYC to pick from.

 

 

step 4: No Fee Apartments in NYC

 

(How to keep the Broker’s Fee in YOUR Pocket & Find a Great No Fee Apartment in NYC)

by Laurence Rosenberg of RDNY.com

 


No Fee Apartments NYC

These days, there are plenty of good reasons to save money. Fortunately, finding an apartment to rent without a rental broker is a great way to save thousands of dollars. It’s called a “no fee” apartment because if you don’t use a broker to find your apartment, you don’t have to pay the broker’s fee.

Let’s dispel the biggest myth right at the start; there is NO difference between a broker fee apartment and a no broker fee apartment. The only reason one apartment has a fee and another that doesn’t is how you found the apartment.

 

  • If you used a broker to find your apartment, you employed them, and you have to pay their broker’s fee.
  • If you found the very same apartment without a broker (e.g. by using our list of apartment search websites), you do not have to pay a broker’s fee. This is the goal!

The key to having a successful no fee apartment search is having timely information about available apartments, being prepared with the right documents, and being willing to fill out your apartment application if you see the right place during your apartment visit.

All a broker has that you don’t have is information. That’s it. They know where apartments for rent are located, how to get in to see them, how much the rent is, and whom to contact if you’re interested in renting the apartment.

That’s basically it. If you had the same information that a broker had, you wouldn’t need the broker to find an apartment! My goal in this short article is to point you in the right direction with solid information and advice that you can use to save a bundle of money.

 

Finding a no-fee apartment in NYC

So let’s get started.

  1. I’m assuming you have already figured out how much you can pay in rent every month and you have some ideas of the neighborhoods you’d like to live in. If not, you can get some pointers on these topics here or check out the beginning of this guide to learn how to start your search for apartments. There is tons of material online to help you select the right neighborhood for you.
  2. You’ll want a “guide” to help you on this quest. A good guide will anticipate and answer many of your questions and give you reliable information in an organized manner. An excellent guide can be found here.
  3. Since you’re finding an apartment on your own, you’ll need a reliable source of information about currently available apartments for rent. There are lots of free apartment search websites that have apartment rental listings, but beware; most of the rental listings on free websites are placed there by brokers. Remember that if you contact a broker to see apartments will defeat your goal of finding a no fee apartment!

Caution: Be very careful using Craigslist  There have been too many scams run on Craigslist to ignore the danger. Yes, there are legitimate ads on Craigslist, but once again, most ads are placed by brokers. Some brokers, in violation of the law in NY, don’t even mention in their ads that they are brokers. So beware! Two other free sources of listings are Backpage.com and Apartments.com.

But there is one source of rental listings that I know is accurate and up-to-date. Every single apartment is from a vetted landlord and is guaranteed 100% no broker fee, and that is from my website, RDNY.com. There are other sources of no fee apartments, but you should inquire about how current the listings are and how often they are updated. Up-to-date listings makes all the difference.

Another way to find a no fee apartment is by connecting with another renter who is moving out. The website / mobile app Flip posts leases available for takeover from renters. From there you will be connected to the renter who can give you more details about the apartment.

 

THE RIGHT WAY TO SET UP YOUR NO-FEE NYC APARTMENT SEARCH

 

No-Fee Apartment Search Tips

 

Once you decide the time has come to intensively begin your apartment search, you’ll probably be looking on a variety of real estate and rental websites. Each website will want you to search their listings. While every site has a slightly different user interface, they all have the same basics; you need to select your price range, your neighborhoods, and the size of the apartment you’re looking for.

Assuming that you have a limited budget for your rent, you want to know about the best apartments in your price range. Keep in mind that there are really only four main variables you can play with. They are apartment size, rental amount, location, and amenities (such as a doorman, terrace, laundry machine in-unit, or pool). Check out the getting started section to learn more about figuring these essentials before starting your apartment search.

 

  1. If you are living with a tight budget, then you might have to compromise on size, location, and amenities.
  2. If you must have a certain size apartment, then you need to be flexible with the price, the location and the amenities.
  3. If you must have a particular location, then you must be flexible on the size, the rental price or the amenities.
  4. If you must have certain amenities, such as a doorman, then you must be flexible on price, location, and size.

To maximize your chances of looking at the best apartments in your price range, we suggest that you set up your searches in a very broad way. Broad means that you cover a wide area. For example, if you’d like to live in Brooklyn Heights or Park Slope, you’ll want to select all of South Brooklyn, not just those two areas. You might find that the best apartments at the most reasonable prices come up in the areas between your two desired neighborhoods, such as Boerum Hill, downtown Brooklyn, or Fort Greene.

 

Choosing a no-fee apartment

You'll want to see how many apartments come up in your search. If many come up, then you can narrow down the list by changing your search to only show you your “wish list” neighborhoods and sizes. If few apartments come up in your search, you may want to consider adding in other areas to search. RDNY.comhas designed our searches to alway show you any apartments that are larger than your selected size as long as they are in the neighborhoods and budget you’ve selected. After all, if you’re looking for a studio and there is a one bedroom available in the same price range and location, wouldn’t you want to know about it?

In your initial search, don’t focus on amenities, such as a doorman or a pool. If few apartments come up in your initial search, the chances are that they will be in buildings without such amenities. Then you can decide how important those amenities are for you. However, if you have a dog or cat, be sure to specify that in your search. If a landlord won’t allow dogs, and you have one, don’t even think of sneaking the dog in the apartment. You will be found out. Service dogs are usually an exception.


 
AUTHOR’S CREDIT:

Laurence Rosenberg is a licensed NYS real estate broker and co-founder of RDNY.com. For the past 21 years, he’s been helping thousands of New Yorkers find and rent the very best no fee apartments. Prior to RDNY, Laurence was president of the boutique Greenwich Village real estate firm of Swift & Watson Realty. He also previously worked as Regional Sales Manager for Time Equities, Inc.
 


 

NYC NO-FEE APARTMENT SITES

  • NYBits - NYBits is a text-based apartment site with many no-fee listings mostly sorted by building.
  • UrbanEdgeNY - All of UrbanEdge’s listings come from property managers or leasing agents.
  • Urban Sherpa - UrbanSherpa works with hundreds of property managers to list apartments.
  • Lovely - Lovely is a data-driven rental site; its search is dynamic, but has less info about landlords.
  • rent-direct.com or RDNY or RentNY is a paid membership site that offers a huge amount of guaranteed no-fee listings that could end up saving you more money.
  • The Listings Project - A weekly newsletter of listings catered to the creative community.
  • LandLord Links -Landlord Links is a paid service for searching listings directly from landlords.
  • GoNoFee.com - GoNoFee specializes in Manhattan listings and provides good photos.
  • Naked Apartments No Fee - All the no-fee listings at great apartments site NakedApartments.
  • Abode - Abode’s no fee listings use picture-centric search & on-site messaging.
  • LeaseBreak.com - Leaseholders post their lease on LeaseBreak to look for someone to take it over.
  • InsideDigs - InsideDigs is a peer-to-peer website that lists apartments before their leases expire.
  • Flip [App] - Flip allows apartment hunters to connect with renters who no longer want their leases.
  • Oliver [App] - This No-Fee Apartment hunting app allows users to schedule showings.

 

OTHER WAYS TO FIND NO-FEE APARTMENTS:

DIRECT CONTACT


No-Fee Apartment Steps

There is a much more direct route that can occasionally work for NYC Apartment hunters; contact building owners and landlords directly. This cuts out a third party, which means a lower price for the renter and higher profits for the owner. The process however can quickly become a crapshoot. The best way to find an apartment owner that you want to contact directly is to walk through a neighborhood you’d like to move to, keeping your eye out for signs of a building looking to fill a  vacancy. These signs will often have a phone number on them you can call, or some other contact information. If there’s a building you know you’d like to live in, you can try and find their contact information, and ask them directly when they might have an opening. This could give you an edge in the very competitive NYC apartment market, but it’s time consuming and makes the most sense for very organized folk who know exactly what they want.

On the web, you can try using Revaluate’s No-Fee Apartment Map: it shows buildings that will lease no-fee apartments, along with their websites where you can find their contact information.

After you find a listing that you like, it’s time to set up an appointment to visit it. Make sure you are adequately prepared with more tips from Laurence Rosenberg from RDNY.com

 

PROPERTY MANAGERS 


No-Fee Apartment Property Managers

Inquiring Directly at a Property Manager’s website is another common way to find a no-fee apartment. This might take a little bit of extra effort (digging for the website, inquiring about availabilities) but can be quite fruitful. Here are some resources to help you find the right property manager site for your individual search; 

 

step 5: create a Prep List for your hunt

by Laurence Rosenberg of RDNY.com


 


Renting an Apartment

So now you have a source of no fee rental listings, a good guide for information on renting, and you’ve decided on your budget. What’s next?

It’s time to contact the landlords of your listings and set up an appointment to see the apartments. Whatever your source of listings, they should all contain information on how you can view the apartments. When you go to inspect the apartments, you will need to be properly prepared.

There is no substitute for being properly prepared with all of your paperwork and documentation when you go to see an apartment. When you see the right apartment, you have to move very quickly or you will surely lose the apartment to another interested renter. Look at it this way, if you see an apartment you like at the right price, then someone else (probably many others) will also think the apartment is attractive and properly priced. If you’re not ready to jump on it, someone else will.

But what does “all your paperwork and documentation” mean?

We recommend that you should come armed to apartment viewings with all your information put together as a package. Make several copies of your application package, as you might see more than one apartment you’re interested in applying for. Remember, being a landlord is a business. Landlords are more likely to want to work with and rent to people who understand the need to approach their apartment search in a proper business-like manner.

 

1. HAVE DOCUMENTATION

You will need to prove your employment and income, which you can do with a very recent year-to-date pay stub or copy of our latest tax return if your self-employed. If you have a roommate, make sure you have all of your roommates employment and financial data as well.

 

  • If you’re self employed

You’ll want to get a letter from your accountant attesting to your income and growth of your business. Do this ahead of time and have the letter (or copy) ready when you go looking at apartments. Click here to see some sample letters.

 

  • If you need a guarantor

Have all of your guarantor’s (also known as a co-signer) information on hand, including address, social security number, and proof of income. Click here for more information on guarantors. If you are reluctant to use a family member as a guarantor, you can use a corporate guarantor. If this is your best option, you should look intoInsurent.com.

 

2. HAVE A “COVER LETTER” TO ATTACH TO YOUR APARTMENT APPLICATION.

I can’t stress the importance of this step enough.

The landlord’s application form is asking about factual information, such a your name, address, social security number, place of employment, income, etc. But it doesn’t tell the landlord much about you.

Think about how many things aren’t asked on an application form that can show the landlord you are a person of good character, exceptional skill, great talent, vision, and community concern. Your cover letter is a fine place to impress the landlord that you’re a decent, upstanding citizen who understands that you have a legal and moral obligation to respect the landlord’s property and pay the rent on time. Trust me, this will go a long way towards having a landlord select YOU as the next tenant.

Think of this cover letter as the right place to get an edge on the competition for this apartment. Broker’s merely present the application to the landlord. You can impress the landlord, particularly if you are young and early in your career. After all, if the landlord has a choice between you and another applicant, but all he knows about the other applicant is what’s on the application form, you will have the edge.

For example: if you can honestly say to the landlord that you’re a volunteer for certain community groups or a volunteer in a school or hospital, the landlord is going to know that you are a highly responsible young person.

If you talk about your advanced schooling, the landlord will infer that your career is certain to move upward. If you talk about any awards you’ve won from schools or community groups, the landlord will once again know that you are highly responsible and highly respected. In short, a well written cover letter will be an introduction to who you are as a person. It’s your chance to put your best foot forward.

Your cover letter will be even more important if you have credit problems or some other problem. Read more about how a cover letter can help you here.

 

3. HAVE A GENERIC APPLICATION FORM ALREADY FILLED OUT WHEN YOU GO LOOKING AT APARTMENTS

You’ll want to have an application for filled out with all of your information, your roommates information if any, or your guarantor’s information if you need one. Even if you need to copy over your information on to the landlord’s “approved” application form, I guarantee you that the questions will mostly be the same. So having all the information ready to go will save you time. You can download a generic application form here or here.

 

4. CHARM THE LANDLORD.

Treat everybody as politely as if you were calling for a job interview, because you ARE being interviewed. Landlords want to know that they can entrust their property and housing to you. You might feel awkward the first two to three times you make a call, but if you use your business manners, you’ll be fine. Remember to dress in business casual when you see the landlord. You want to appear to be the mature adult that you really are, right?

 

5. BE READY TO PULL THE TRIGGER!

When you see the right apartment, don’t hesitate. Don’t say you want to think about it overnight. Just go ahead and apply. If you change your mind tomorrow, you can always back out. But if you don’t apply today, you’ll regret it and it will bother you day after day.

In closing, let me wish you the best of luck in your no fee apartment search.

 


 
AUTHOR’S CREDIT:

Laurence Rosenberg is a licensed NYS real estate broker and co-founder of RDNY.com. For the past 21 years, he’s been helping thousands of New Yorkers find and rent the very best no fee apartments. Prior to RDNY, Laurence was president of the boutique Greenwich Village real estate firm of Swift & Watson Realty. He also previously worked as Regional Sales Manager for Time Equities, Inc.

 

step 6: Optimize Your Apartment Viewing

By Maria Fallia, NYC Real Estate Agent at Bohemia Realty Group
 


How to Sell your Apartment

So you’ve vetted your real estate agent (or hustled to find No Fee Apartments to view on your own) and it is finally the day for you to actually see your potential apartments! Here are five suggestions to help you get the most out of your showing:

1)Smile and be nice! Smiling at someone in the elevator of the building you are in, or at the Super who is kindly taking time out of his day to show you the apartment can help unlock LOADS of information about the building you just wouldn’t know without knowing someone “on the inside”. Ask tenants if the super is responsive or if there have been recent issues with the building… and 9 out of 10 times they will be happy to take 5 minutes to give you the scoop on the building!

2)Bring a measuring tape and know what furniture you are bringing to the new apartment. If you know you have a king size bed or an oversized sofa that you can’t part with, measure it beforehand and write the measurements down. When you are in an apartment you like but are not quite sure if that sofa will fit… just whip out your tape measure and check! No guessing necessary.

3)Have your paperwork ready BEFORE the showing. I have seen too many clients find their dream apartment and lose it because they didn’t have all paperwork ready. Rentals in Manhattan (especially in the summer time) move like LIGHTNING. If you are serious about moving and finding the best place, have your documents ready (electronically or in person at the showing) and be ready to fill out applications and submit that day. This will also make your application process much less stressful because you won’t be scrambling at the last minute.

4)If you have roommates, discuss the basic structure of how rent will be paid with them beforehand.In NYC, you will rarely find a three bedroom with equal sized bedrooms. Most of the time you will find one of those bedrooms to be smaller/less desirable. To remedy this, a lot of roommates decide to scale rent based on size. If this is your case, sit down with your roommates and discuss everyone’s price maxes and minimums based on size so you can have a better understanding of what you are actually looking at (and can each afford) before the showing.

5)Make sure you have space for photos and video on your phone (and that it’s charged)! It’s such a funny suggestion, but taking photos and videos of the apartments you see is KEY to helping you make the best decision. After a couple of apartments, they all start to blend together and you won’t be able to keep them straight. Take photos (maybe even paired with notes) so you can keep track.

 

step 7: HOW TO APPLY FOR AN APARTMENT

 

How To Apply for an Apartment

 

After a grueling stretch of NYC Apartment Hunting, you’ve picked out the one:  your future home. But before you start planning the interiors in your head, you need to take time to make sure you will actually get to live there. The apartment application process is fairly simple, but there may be a few pitfalls along the way if you’re not careful.


DO YOU QUALIFY?

Make sure you meet the financial qualifications in order to rent or buy the apartment. If you’re renting, property managers will check to make sure your yearly income reaches a certain multiple of the monthly rent: usually about 40-50x as much, but it varies. (For mortgage payments on bought properties this likely follows.) If you’re a college student, or a dependant that can’t meet that threshold, you may be able to use a guarantor. A guarantor is an outside figure that can be held accountable in case the tenant defaults on their rent. Guarantors will need to have a yearly income twice as much as the one renters need to have; their yearly income requirements may be anywhere from 80x to 100x the monthly rent. If you don’t have a guarantor, you may be able to negotiate a larger security deposit, or use third party financing such as Insurent.

This isn’t even taking into account the credit check your apartment search will almost certainly require you to consent to. Property Managers will want to look into your history of paying bills and debts. If that history shows any signs of problematic behavior, your application may be jeopardized. Managers will be looking into your credit score as well. According to BrickUnderGround, a credit score under 700 would raise a red flag for almost any property manager.


FINALIZING TERMS

If you want to negotiate your final price, there isn’t a lot of room to do that in this process. Your largest negotiation leverage comes on the broker fee - agents are often willing to lower their fees to complete a transaction and satisfy their clients. Property Managers are less likely to lower rent, and given the rents people are willing to pay in New York City, it’s hard to blame them. You may be able to get fees for amenities, your application, credit check, or other ancillary expenses waived or lowered in negotiation. 

WHAT YOU NEED

You and your guarantor will need to present plenty of personal documents to complete your application, including but often not limited to:

  • Government Picture ID (maybe 2 forms)

  • Pay Stubs

  • Bank Statements

  • Tax Returns (W-2 as well)

  • Other Asset Valuation Documents (for Real Estate, Stocks/Bonds, other investments, etc.)

  • References (Information of previous landlords and current employer) 

You may also choose to include;

  • A cover letter (why you would be a good tenant)

  • Reference Letters (From roommates, landlords, professional colleagues)

  • Any supplemental documents that bolster your application

Keep in mind the landlord will have the final say on your apartment application, but often has no reason to turn away an applicant provided they have their financials in order.

 

REVIEWING LEASE TERMS

 

Applying for an Apartment

 

Once your apartment application is approved, the last remaining step is to sign the lease. It is best to do this with all involved parties present, including guarantors, roommates, and property managers to ensure everyone is on the same page about the terms of the lease. A lot of information can be clarified in these meetings. Once the terms of the lease are set and the papers have all be signed, it’s time to get ready move into your new apartment.

After all the stress of a successful apartment hunt, you owe it to yourself to get some help to guide you through the equally stressful moving process. At Oz Moving, our professional team can take care of your every need on moving day, from packing the first box to unpacking the last box and everything inbetween. No matter the items, no matter the apartment, there is no job too big or small for Oz’s organized, on-time, and outstanding movers. To get a no-obligation quote or schedule an onsite estimate, call Oz at 212-452-6683, or fill out our quote request form. 

  

 

8. How to Apply for an Apartment - A quick guide to your apartment application that will help you make sure that nothing falls through and you get the apartment you have your eyes on. 

 

 

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