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 Post subject: How did you find your apartment?
PostPosted: Fri Dec 30, 2011 12:50 pm 
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When my husband and I moved to NYC, we found a great sublet and have been in it ever since. But the time to move is coming up (early summer 2012) and I am getting anxious. We thought we would have to move in August and did a fair bit of apartment hunting at that time and it almost drove me insane.

Does anyone have any brilliant web-sites or tips they used to find their apartment? We'd ideally like to find something that doesn't involve a broker's fee... seriously, how can one be expected to pay first/last/deposit and a broker's fee?? It costs more than a used car to move into an apartment in this forking city...

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 Post subject: Re: How did you find your apartment?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 31, 2011 10:06 am 
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In light of the number of apartment hunting threads that are popping up here, I figured I would use this thread, since it is so general, to throw in some tips that might be useful to everyone moving from outside of NY. I am not a professional realtor, I've just owned and rented in NYC and can pass on some thoughts.

Setting Expectations
New York City is expensive and the apartments are small. You absolutely will not get everything you want on your checklist unless you're unattainably wealthy. You really have to get over all of that in order to find an apartment in NYC.

Cost/Neighborhoods
Once you've gotten past that you can get to work, and it will be work unless you just hit a spot of luck. First you will need to know that if you are renting, most landlords in NYC require that your salary be 40 times rent. So if you want a $2,000/month apartment, you need to make at least $80k per year. Some places allow guarantors. Prices vary greatly around the city due to the desirability of the various neighborhoods. You can get more apartment for your money in Western Brooklyn, Long Island City, Astoria, Harlem, Morningside, the Financial District, and various other areas than you can in Uptown or Midtown Manhattan. If you haven't been living below 14th street for the past 10 years, you will need a roommate and expect that if you can find something it will be small. Again, I have heard stories of great luck but they are rare. Of course the best way to find what you want at the price that you want is to live in an "up and coming" neighborhood. There's a reason salaries in NYC are so much higher that the rest of the nation. The cost of living here is outrageous. On a rambling side note, it peas me off when people say that New Yorkers make so much money and we shouldn't complain but here you can make $100k and have to live in a small studio but if you made $30k in some parts of the country you'd be living in a mansion. But I digress...

Your Checklist
Once you have the financial aspect down, prioritize your wants (because in NYC apartments, everything is a want not a need). While the list could be endless, aside from cost, think about safety, proximity to transportation, commute time (try [url]http:\\www.hopstop.com[/url]), noise level, apartment size needs, sunlight, pets, in building laundry, and elevator/walk up.

For me, I chose to live in a studio, in a safe neighborhood, close to stores and transportation, and pets were an absolute must. At the top of my list was sunlight and I gave that up. I only get indirect sunlight. I also don't have laundry in my building and live in a walk up. (I'm not sure I would do that again) I also made sacrifices so that I could live without roommates.

Roommates, Managing Agents, and Brokers Fees
For the lucky, networking will find you a roommate or someone who is subletting. For everyone else, you can avoid a brokers fee which many like to call gatekeeper fees. Even if you find a place on your own, if a broker is showing it, you will have to pay a fee (which is what happened to me). Fees are now 12%-15% of 1 years rent. It's outrageous and I don't know how they get away with it. Apartments below a certain price point (approx $1,500) tend to be no fee. For apartments above that price point, you can find no fee apartments through management companies or craigslist but be careful there as many, if not most, craigslist apartments are phonies. I also have to say that I don't know anyone who was happy with a roommate they found off of craigslist but that is not to say that you won't be lucky. Back to Management Companies, one great way to find an apartment is to canvas the neighborhood that you're interested in and write down the number of the managing agents of all of the rental buildings in the area. Know that you will likely be getting what you pay for. Most of the apartments I saw through managing agents in Manhattan in safe neighborhoods were dark, dank, 400 square foot one bedrooms.

Websites
My favorite site in general for renting and buying is http://www.streeteasy.com. In Brooklyn I really like the site http://www.marketplace.brownstoner.com. If you are looking to buy, add the NYTimes Real Estate section online and http://www.natefind.com to your list. You can also go directly to brokers' websites.

I invite others to add some of their favorite websites because there are plenty out there.

Other Nuggets of Wisdom
Have all of your financial documentation ready to go because apartments in NYC rent fast. If you're buying, have it ready along with a pre-approved mortgage because co-op boards are a giant pain and it takes a long time to get through their approval process. The only exception is the Brooklyn brownstone co-ops.

Winter is the best time to get the best price on an apartment but inventory is also low. Come late Spring, expect the market to be flooded with available apartments but know that price negotiation won't be as easy. I know, it is counter-intuitive, it flies in the face of supply and demand economics but then again, there isn't much in NYC that is conventional.

One of my friends recently said that "10 years ago you could move to NYC with $1,000 and be fine but you just can't do that anymore". She couldn't be more right. You need to have at a minimum: money for first months rent, security deposit, and an application fee. You will likely also have to pay last months rent. I have actually never heard of anyone not having to pay last months rent but apparently it exists. And potentially a brokers fee of course.

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 Post subject: Re: How did you find your apartment?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 11:23 am 
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I would also add: be willing to look for weeks with great intensity. Look on craigslist too (obvious, but has so many listings) and use a discerning eye with it. If it sounds too good to be true, it is. If the location is off the beaten track it may be worth looking at if you are willing to walk a loooong way to the subway, but make sure that will be acceptable to you when it's 14 degrees outside. Don't let a real estate agent tell you "you'll NEVER find an apt. in that neighborhood for less than blah blah," because that's often untrue. And keep in mind that "character" may sway you to choose an apt., but make sure it's really where you want to live. (Our last apt. was very pretty, full of fancy old house details, but we hated the street after just a few months, and moved again after 2 years.)

However, also be a little adventurous. We found our current apt. on craigslist, it had no photo, and the description was dry and very brief. My husband said "I'm not looking at it if it doesn't have a photo," but I convinced him to go because the location was good. Lo and behold, it was excellent. Not as pretty as the previous one, but much better for us in all other ways. Good luck!!


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 Post subject: Re: How did you find your apartment?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 9:40 pm 
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I got an apartment by signing my name in blood. Also by opening my wallet and emptying all the contents onto my broker's desk.

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 Post subject: Re: How did you find your apartment?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2012 3:35 am 
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Looking for apartments in New York is a GIANT PAIN IN THE asparagus. But not impossible. My advice is start early, be prepared to look at places right as soon as they're listed and be flexible on some of your criteria. Also, ask EVERYBODY if they know of something. I live in Brooklyn, and did all of my recent searching in Brooklyn, so maybe your experiences will be different, but I found a couple of apartments when I was searching this summer through Craigslist that I would have been able to get and afford and everything without a broker's fee. The problem was that all of them were much farther away from where we currently live than I wanted to move, so we decided that we liked staying in our current hood more than the lure of having a 2 bedroom apartment (crazy, I know.) None of these were in bad neighborhoods or anything, just far away/long commutes. Unfortunately most places do require first/deposit/and often last STILL, but you can get around that broker fee if you're diligent with Craigslist searching. A couple tips-

-Don't totally discount ads without photos, sometimes the places really are fine! We saw this one place where the photo on the ad was just a crappy photo of a closet door but it turned out to be a whole floor of a house!
-If you like it, be prepared to take it.
-Craigslist is OK, but there's a lot of crepe on there. Word of mouth is really the best way to find a place. Do you know anybody who's moving? Or if not, have you asked them if THEY know anybody that's moving? Use Facebook? Hire skywriters?
-If you're looking within a specific area, check out Padmapper. Not sure if everything you pull of there will be helpful, but it does search Craigslist as part of its results.


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 Post subject: Re: How did you find your apartment?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2012 12:11 pm 
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There's a lot of good advice on this thread - I think the only thing I really have to contribute is the website of the company I used to find my apartment. They've got a number of listings in more remote parts of the outer boros (i'm in southern Brooklyn), and some don't have a broker's fee.

http://ardorny.com/

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 Post subject: Re: How did you find your apartment?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 11:13 am 
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Thanks for all the input, everyone. We thought that we were going to have to move out of our current apartment back in August, so we did a fair amount of hunting back then and then ended up renewing our sub-lease until the end of May. There were a few apartments we saw that we *could* have lived in, but none seemed to be a perfect fit. After that experience, I think we just have to readjust our expectations. As we get older, we're not as willing to compromise on certain things, but I know we have to be realistic.

You all are right - I was totally counting out Craigslist ads without pictures and I will not do that any longer. I consider myself a pretty good bullshiitake detector, but we had one ridiculous experience based on a Craigslist ad that seemed legit and I was trying to avoid a repeat of that. I guess we just have to be willing to sacrifice nights and weekends for a few weeks and see as many places as possible! I'll also try the word-of-mouth thing, too.

For those of you who live in Brooklyn, can you tell me which neighborhoods we should look in? My friends live in Park Slope and I love that area (also love Williamsburg, but it's so expensive), but we saw an apartment just a few subway stops from there and I was shocked at how scary the neighborhood was!

Thanks for all the help!

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"Also (in the slightly paraphrased words of Bernard Black): 'Cake, pie, it's an impossible choice. I'll just have to hope that when I flip the coin it somehow blows up and kills me.'" - Gunk


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 Post subject: Re: How did you find your apartment?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2012 10:46 am 
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I'm in Park Slope myself and also love the area. It's very quiet, mostly young parents it seems. A handful of apartments have outdoor spaces such as patios or backyards which are helpful if you grow anything. The subways aren't always that close depending on which line you're looking for and where you're heading, but most will go through Jay Street-Metro Tech which is a nice central hub for transferring to many other lines. Lots of bike lanes if you're into that. The Park Sloop Food Coop is pretty amazing if you cook a lot. In fact, that's one of if not the main reason I'm planning on sticking in the area. Quite a few vegan restaurants (or at least vegan options) in the area, mostly ethnic. There're also a bunch of activities that go on in local bars, from free live music to nerdy science lectures. If you have any other questions I could probably help you out.


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 Post subject: Re: How did you find your apartment?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2012 10:03 pm 
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I lived in bay ridge for a few years. Its a great area although a bit far from Manhattan. You're looking at a 30 min commute to lower Manhattan but you get soooo much for your money.

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 Post subject: Re: How did you find your apartment?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2012 2:29 pm 
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OddCoupleEats wrote:
Thanks for all the input, everyone. We thought that we were going to have to move out of our current apartment back in August, so we did a fair amount of hunting back then and then ended up renewing our sub-lease until the end of May. There were a few apartments we saw that we *could* have lived in, but none seemed to be a perfect fit. After that experience, I think we just have to readjust our expectations. As we get older, we're not as willing to compromise on certain things, but I know we have to be realistic.

You all are right - I was totally counting out Craigslist ads without pictures and I will not do that any longer. I consider myself a pretty good bullshiitake detector, but we had one ridiculous experience based on a Craigslist ad that seemed legit and I was trying to avoid a repeat of that. I guess we just have to be willing to sacrifice nights and weekends for a few weeks and see as many places as possible! I'll also try the word-of-mouth thing, too.

For those of you who live in Brooklyn, can you tell me which neighborhoods we should look in? My friends live in Park Slope and I love that area (also love Williamsburg, but it's so expensive), but we saw an apartment just a few subway stops from there and I was shocked at how scary the neighborhood was!

Thanks for all the help!


We're in Gowanus, which is sort of in between Carroll Gardens and Park Slope. It's really not as "scenic" as those two neighborhoods but it can be cheaper and I would consider it to be pretty safe, plus being close to the amenities of those hoods is nice. It's also a relatively short commute to lower Manhattan. Bay Ridge is nice but it's much farther out so could be a hassle depending on where you're commuting to. You could also check out Windsor Terrace, which is near to Park Slope but sort of on the other side of Prospect Park.


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 Post subject: Re: How did you find your apartment?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 11, 2013 10:40 am 
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 Post subject: Re: How did you find your apartment?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2013 7:29 pm 
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My wife and I have been looking on nakedapartments.com, and it has worked out well for us so far. We've gotten in touch with a really nice broker, and she showed us around Long Island City. I'd gladly refer her to anyone if they're interested. Either way, we hope to have an apartment lease agreement in a day or two!


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