Hunting for a New York City apartment: just the basics

So you are planning to move to New York City!

Congratulations. Now is a wonderful time to be apartment hunting.

Here are some things to understand.

Unlike almost everywhere else in the US, there is no MLS that everybody uses.

There are a number of websites, some from real estate agencies, some from media companies, but believe it or not there are apartments that are not listed on any public website, and sometimes those are the best deals.

Each landlord has their own style, and application requirements.

The most important thing to understand is the difference between open and exclusive listings. Exclusives work more like home sales do in most of the country. Properties have a listing agent. You can have a separate agent represent your interests. That agent can schedule your appointments, teach you about the market, and help you negotiate and apply.

There are also open listings, which do not have a listing agent. There might be a leasing office, or your agent may arrange access directly with the landlord. Again, unless you are someone who studies real estate companies, having an agent who is familiar with landlords is a huge help.

Many apartments right now are listed with a “net effective” rent. That is a rent that factors in a one time offer of a number of weeks or months free. The gross rent is the true rent paid, and the difference in the number can be pretty dramatic. The net rent is the average, and represent the value.

While we may not have an MLS we do have the Real Estate Board of New York, and agents who are members must co-operate with each other and allow the sharing of listings. There are a number of small agencies which are independent, those agent can decide whether to co-operate with other agents or not.

Many people begin the process looking at apartments online, instead of looking for an agent. That is ok. But if you truly want a smooth apartment search, I suggest finding an agent that you like and asking them to set up your schedule so you see a variety of apartments that suit your needs.

It is so common that people hit town with an idea of what they want and that changes. It’s our job to keep you on the right path, or suggest if you need to consider options you might not have though of, like a different type of building or neighborhood. When I meet a new client I have a pretty good idea if their wants, needs, and budget will work or if they are going to have a hard time.

I once spoke to a woman who had a daughter who had been living for a month in a hotel, unable to find an apartment. If you are planning to come search I advise having at least one weekday. Not every landlord allows weekend showings. I like people to have two or even three days. It is really hard to see more than 6 buildings a day. You get tired, and your decision making ability is stressed.

If you are moving to NYC, feel free to reach out. Suzanne Goldklang. or 929-429-040. I can’t wait to meet you!

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