How to find a No Fee Apartment in New York City
If you're new to renting in NYC, you may be surprised to find that quite a few apartments have broker's fees attached to them. This fee, which can typically range from one month's rent to 15% of total annual rent, can add quite a markup to an already expensive apartment. Fortunately, there are several ways to go about finding an apartment with slim to no finding fees attached to them. Below are a few tips for seeking out a no fee apartment in New York City.
Tip 1: Consider a high-rise apartment
If you're looking for a no fee apartment, a larger building with several units may be an optimal choice. These buildings are often housed with rental management companies on site, whose top priority is to keep as many of the apartments occupied for as long as possible. Buildings such as these often offer an opportunity to work directly through the building itself (reaching out can be as simple as speaking with a doorman or calling a number listed on a building), or offer apartments with "no fee" as they will handle a finder's fee with brokers directly. Some examples of buildings in NYC that have this policy are the Avalon Lower East Side, Casa in Chelsea, Stuyvesant Town in Gramercy, and Key West on the Upper West Side. If you're lucky, and during a low volume period (for example, if the building is new or its a cold weather month), you may even get a perk thrown in.
Tip 2: Utilize Craig's List
If the idea of a big building doesn't strike your fancy, try Craig's List as an option for finding no fee apartments. Quite a few apartment owners list apartments on Craig's List as a ways to try to find renters without the help of a broker. You may find options that are listed as "no fee" and hosted by realtors as well - I met a broker through Craig's List who was salaried and regularly advertised several no-fee properties throughout the city. Craig's List will require some additional digging compared to other resources, but may lead to some interesting finds you wouldn't be able to see elsewhere.
Tip 3: Reach out to your Friends
Another way to find a no fee apartment is to reach out to a network of connections or friends who already live in New York. Often, friends will have direct links to a leasing office in their building that one wouldn't be able to find otherwise without the help of a broker. They may even know of apartments that haven't yet gone on the market (due to a neighbor breaking a lease or moving out early) and are in need of finding a sublessor quickly. These connections can also be great because you can get an "insider's look" at an apartment without the salesy pitch of a broker. Put a note out to family and friends looking for feelers.
Tip 4: Try an Apartment Referral Service
There are several companies in New York that have "Apartment Referral Services," which require the renter (you) to pay a small fee in order to access a database of no-fee apartments without the help of the broker. While this method isn't technically free, it does allow you to access no-fee apartments that you may not otherwise at a significantly lower price than it would be to go through a broker. Google "Apartment Referral Service NY" for a variety of options.
Tip 5: Try broker sites who offer no-fee places
Some brokers do offer no-fee apartments that may have been on the market for a while or need to move quickly. In these cases, the lessor will frequently pay the broker's fee to move the apartment renting process along. Sites such as streeteasy.com are great ways to find out about apartments such as these in aggregate, the number of days an apartment has been on the market, and what it has rented for in the past. While this method can certainly lead to finding a great place, it's highly recommended to ask the right questions to make sure you understand WHY an apartment has been on the market for so long. For a list of questions to ask, refer to: What to Look for When Searching for an Apartment Rental in New York City.
For more information on the NYC apartment rental process, see:
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