An introduction to the ways you can rent an apartment in New York City

According to the 2000 US Census, 66% of New York City residents are renters. This equates to an average vacancy rate of 3% at any given time. Because there is always intense competition for living space, the rental market in the New York area has characteristics you won’t find anywhere else in the US.

This short article will introduce you to the different ways most people look for apartments for rent in New York City.

Role of brokers… In New York, it was common for renters to use the services of a broker to find their apartment. Because unlike most places in America, landlords in New York City don’t advertise their vacant apartments. Real estate agents don’t need to spend money on advertising because they are happy to assume this expense when they are able to collect a large brokerage fee from a tenant when a lease is signed. (It is illegal for an apartment owner to pay to rent his own apartment.)

Most NYC brokers do not share their rental listings with other brokers because New York does not have a true multiple listing service (MLS) of all rental properties that they broker. As a result, the market is extremely fragmented. Using the services of a broker to find an apartment does not guarantee that you will know exactly which apartments on the market suit your price, location and size needs. Also, keep in mind that if you find an NYC brokered apartment, you’ll probably have to pay a broker fee (commission) equal to 15% of the first year’s rent. This is two months rent! Oh!

Factoid: Rental brokers tend to specialize in a certain area because New York is a big city and it takes too much time to go to all the NYC area neighborhoods with renters. The broker’s convenience is more important than your convenience because time = money. Therefore, a broker expects you to limit your apartment search to the neighborhoods closest to the broker’s office.

Because time = money for a broker, you will be shown a few apartments in the broker’s range and expected to choose the least resistance. If they still don’t get a home after a few days of service, the broker loses interest and moves on to an urgent client. After all, brokers don’t get paid to show apartments. They are paid only when one of their clients rents an apartment. Their job is to sniff out the most desperate tenants, the tenants who need an apartment Today. A broker is the only type of customer guaranteed to pay!

About using “free” websites…

Budget-conscious renters like and other free sites have no registration fee to access the data. You can browse through probably hundreds of ads on Craigslist, many of which look very sweet and tempting. But that’s the problem! You can find many apartment listings with very good-to-real rents and guess what they are. ARE Often too good to be true.

You may find that many of the posted listings are from brokers, whether they are disclosed or not. So the “free website” will only be a way to distribute potential tenants to brokers. Brokers should call on their rental phones. What’s easier than creating interesting lists and putting them where everyone can see them? You make the call, and often enough, you pay a broker to find an apartment. What do you gain by going to a “free” website? “No Broker Fee” sounds like a great way to get an apartment, but you’ve run into a trap.

There must be a better way!

Subscription way to find an apartment. Advanced model…

What you want to do is find an apartment rental website that does the following.

  1. Never takes any broker listings, only listings directly from landlords, owners and managing agents.

  2. Can guarantee the users that all details are 100% no broker fee.

  3. It has listing updates 7 days a week, and

  4. Unbiased customer support for any question or concern.

Doesn’t this “feel” like the right way to find an apartment?

There are many such websites in New York, but only one stands out because of user testimonials and yelp testimonials. It has been around for the longest time (since 1995) and is the largest in terms of traffic and usage. I’ll let you check out the “About the Author” section to see which one I’m talking about.

There are many more things on this topic that probably cannot be discussed in this article. To learn more about renting in New York, I highly recommend the rental guide “The Essential Guide for Smart Tenants.” It has 20 pages of great information on renting in New York today, whether you have credit issues, need a guarantor for your lease, or use government programs. You can find the “Essential Guide for Smart Tenants” on the website.

Good luck in your apartment search!

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