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NYC Apartments: 3 Reasons Craigslist is Awesome

Updated on December 19, 2013

When searching for an NYC apartment Craigslist gets a bad rep for a number of reasons, one being the Bait 'n' Switch. Although there are thousands of complaints per day about the site, there are millions (60 Million in the US alone) using it on the consumer and seller end. For many people who are just beginning their search Craigslist is their go-to site, especially if they're from another city and are not familiar with the services and online tools in that area.

I've found that Craigslist can be a great resource for NYC apartment searching. It just depends on what you're looking for and where you looking. If you like to save money these may be the best places for you to begin your search online. The sections Im about to mention have been tested and proven by my college peers, friends and business colleagues.

New Apartments Listed (a.k.a Listings)

For starters, I want to shine light on one of the more obvious elements of the site that bring value to you (the soon to be tenant), the listings. Craigslist is in fact a long list of jobs, services and products. In the apartment section is continuously filled with streams of ads and properties. This is one of the love/ hate portions of craigslist ads. There is usually a new ad posted every few hours. Depending what neighborhood you're researching there may be a new post every few minutes.

New ads can help you get a general feel of how much apartments are renting/selling for during the time you are looking. It also gives you a good feel of how many vacant apartments are available in your price range (Awesome tool to find your ideal Apartment price range). Even if you aren't looking to move in the next 2-3 months it can give you a feel of what to expect.

Side Note: When searching for an apartment I suggest you start doing your research 3 month ahead of time. the 2nd month should be seeing apartments and 3rd should be finalizing. This is if you have time- the information can be found quickly and it could be as short as 2-3 weeks to find an apartment

Along with new post comes new agents and brokerage companies who publish the post. This gives you a wide range of people to contact if you'd rather pay a realtor to find your apartment. You can judge a realtor by how they posted their ads (written description, neat, picture quality, font, font sizes, etc.), what their company site looks like and how he/she communicates when you contact them (Does it take more than 24 hours for them to respond, are they helpful on the phone, etc.).

I suggest, especially if you plan to be in NYC for a long time, you choose a great realtor and stick with them. Many people make the mistake of using a realtor for one transaction. Even if you don't plan to move for 5 years, you never know if you have to move sooner or if a friends needs a good referral. One day you might want to buy a house or apartment- it's always best to work
with familiar people.

The only reason you shouldn't reuse a broker is if you had a bad experience with him/her.

So take advantage of the wealth of knowledge that Craigslist's posts can provide

Market Overview (Pricing/Rents)
Repeated Listings
Contact to Agents
Outdated Listings
Brokerage Info
Minimal Regulations

By-Owner Section

The second section that I'd like to shed light on is the By-Owner section. There are GREAT deals in this section, especially if you consider moving outside of Manhattan (there's a big difference in pricing but the rules on market research are the same).

A college friend of mine just moved to a 3 bedroom house in Queens for $400 per month. He and our other friend found it on Craigslist in the By-Owner section after weeks of searching the net. He lives with 2 other people so in total they pay $1,200 per month. Thats awesome. I went to the house and its in a nice residential area.

I know a owner in Williamsburg renting out his 2 bedroom apartment for $3,000 per Month. He had no photos and added no detailed descriptions. He just placed the bare minimum (i.e. 2 bedroom apartment in Williamsburg for 2,000. Living room, 1 bathroom, kitchen with closet space in hallway). Thats a great price and it was 3 block from the Barclay Center, mall and all the subway lines on Atlantic avenue.

The same goes for apartment in Manhattan but if your looking for REALLY good deals, Id suggest looking in Brooklyn, Harlem and Queens.

Owners aren't too computer savvy so their ads can be substandard. I wouldn't put them to the Same standards as realtors.

Also, although I've seen some ask, the owner isn't looking for a commission. they are just happy they found a tenant that can pay the rent every month. In some cases the owner will incorporate the Broker Fee in the 1st month of rent or disperse it in the month to month rent which doesn't really harm your overall expenses.

Finally, the owner may live in the house or building which is a gift and a curse. You need something fixed? walk to his/her door. Late on rent? He/she walks to your door :)

No Pics (You have to go see it first)
Onsite Service
They can raise rents faster
No Broker Fee

No-Fee Section

The 3rd section is the no fee section. It's most popular for people looking to avoid Broker Fees. A lot of owners post here but, like I mentioned in the last section, sometimes owners do collect a Broker Fee. If they post here then its clear that they aren't.

You will come across listings/ads that are posted by brokers in the No-Fee section. That means they have an exclusive agreement with the Landlord which only allows him/her to market the property and the Landlord will pay the Broker-Fee. It can also mean the Landlord and/or property management company is eager to close because certain apartments have been vacant for too long, so they will pay any broker the Broker Fee if they can close the deal. You'll see that more in the off seasons (i.e. Winter).

Also, when searching for an NYC apartment you can ask a broker if they know of No-Fee apartments. For example, you can all a brokerage or agent you see any kind of post from (Broker-Fee, No-Fee, etc.) and ask if they know or represent No-Fee apartments. A brokerage may know an agent in that office that focuses on that or an agent can search for you. They are happy because either way they will get paid- Just not from you!


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