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Apartment-rental websites and apps

Search smart with these apartment-finding apps, search tools and newsletters.

Listings Project
In 2003, Stephanie Diamond began her apartment search with an e-mail to her friends, and continued to receive notices of new vacancies long after finding a place and settling in. She collected the leftover listings in an e-mail she forwarded to her contacts list, and that e-mail list has since grown into a free weekly newsletter, sent every Wednesday, containing a dossier on newly available, no-fee art studios and living spaces for sublet, share, swap or lease. Anyone can sign up to receive the list, which will never include listings from brokers or other entities charging a fee. Diamond still compiles the newsletter personally, making sure no brokers or scam artists slip their posts in the Listings Project. Sign up or post a listing ($20) at stephaniediamond.com/listings.

Move, Inc. (move.com and realtor.com)
Move.com skews heavily toward buildings with multiple available units, while realtor.com takes those listings and adds apartment-community advertisers—tend to be pricey and luxury-laden (the range for Manhattan studios is $2,020–$3,440). Approximately 80 percent of listings are refreshed every 15 minutes, with the remainder being updated between one to 24 hours—which means if you call about an apartment, you won’t be disappointed to learn that someone else moved in months ago.

Naked Apartments(nakedapartments.com)
Brokers aren’t always evil. The two Harvard grads behind this site believes the good ones are worth searching for before your apartment hunt begins: Complete an anonymous profile that includes your income and credit score (if you wish), in addition to your search criteria; agents with matching listings will then send you a list of possible fits. See a unit you like? Check out reviews of the broker—the site’s other users have already vetted them for you. If the broker’s ratings are poor, you can search the site’s list of rentals to find another, more highly rated agent with listings in the same building.

Nestio(nestio.com)
Keeping track of all the potential pads that catch your eye can be a headache. This service enables apartment hunters to save listings from any website to a free personal account by clicking a toolbar button Nestio installs in a browser. The website pulls in photos, plus price, address and layout information for comparison. It also taps into Foursquare to show nearby amenities, and lets you calculate distances to your office or a friend’s place and share favorites with roommates for them to check out and comment on. The free iPhone app allows users to upload their own photos and add notes as they view each property.

New York Bits(nybits.com)
You can contact management companies that will rent to you directly on New York Bits, instead of paying hefty fees to a broker who screens places for you: The company checks that each listing submitted is a no-fee rental (and investigates any disputes if a fee appears later down the line), not brokers attempting to lure people to a fee apartment. Use the search tool to home in on no-fee pads meeting your criteria for size, price, amenities and location. Or click through the site’s extensive list of rental buildings to find out if, for example, the charming complex across the street from your favorite bakery has vacancies.

PadMapper(padmapper.com)
PadMapper focuses almost exclusively on the location of your new digs: For best results, type in your desired zip code; available listings, culled form Craigslist and a number of other apartment-search sites, will pop up on a Google map. Use the filter to further home in on units meeting your criteria.

Place of Mine (placeofmine.com)
What Kayak did for flights, this website hopes to do for rentals. Launched in February, it allows you to search listings from a bevy of sources, including StreetEasy and Craigslist, as well as local classifieds, brokerage websites and property managers. Place of Mine draws on publicly available information to rate each apartment on a ten-point scale—comparing it to other units with the same number of bedrooms and baths in the city—on price, access to public transport, and proximity to amenities such as parks, shops and restaurants. As with Nestio, signed-up users can map their favorite destinations to see what’s close, and they can create lists to share with roommates and add images and comments. There’s no app yet for on-the-go updates, so you’ll need to remember your insights until you’re back at your computer.

StreetEasy(streeteasy.com)
Before you even look at a rental, this site lets you investigate areas you’re interested in and consider details like the schools potential pads are zoned for, potential commute distance and the price per square foot. Street Easy provides listings from owners, brokers and no-fee brokers, but it also arms you with info that can help you score a good deal—including the length of time each has been on the market.

Trulia(trulia.com)
Size is what matters most at Trulia, where you can filter apartments by square footage—in addition to the usual criteria of price range, number of rooms and location. Though the site is skewed toward those who want to buy, it does feature thousands of rental properties updated daily and offers a wealth of user-generated information to those thinking of moving to an unfamiliar ‘hood. Similar to Yelp, other hunters post their reactions to the neighborhood’s cleanliness and walkability, and weigh in on nearby parks and schools.

Urban Edge(urbanedgeny.com)
The frequently refreshed listings on this site, which are never more than 18 days old, come directly from owners, property managers and leasing managers—no broker postings allowed.

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Apartment-rental websites and apps

Search smart with these apartment-finding apps, search tools and newsletters. Listings ProjectIn 2003, Stephanie Diamond began her apartment search with an e-mail to her friends, and continued to receive notices of new vacancies long after finding a place and settling in. She collected the leftover listings in an e-mail she forwarded to her contacts list, and that e-mail list has since grown into a free weekly newsletter, sent every Wednesday, containing a dossier on newly available, no-fee art studios and living spaces for sublet, share, swap or lease. Anyone can sign up to receive the list, which will never include listings from brokers or other entities charging a fee. Diamond still compiles the newsletter personally, making sure no brokers or scam artists slip their posts in the Listings Project. Sign up or post a listing ($20) at stephaniediamond.com/listings.Move, Inc. (move.com and realtor.com)Move.com skews heavily toward buildings with multiple available units. For both sites, the options—collected from apartment-community advertisers and new-home builders—tend to be pricey and luxury-laden (the range for Manhattan studios is $2,400--$3,900 on move.com and $1,450--$5,700 on realtor.com). Move.com’s listings are refreshed every one to 24 hours, while the listings on realtor.com are updated every 15 minutes—which means if you call about an apartment, you won’t be disappointed to learn that someone else moved in months ago.MyNewPlaceThis free app—available for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Android—runs a GPS search to turn up listings (mainly for pricier pads; for example, studios in Manhattan run from $2,025 to $3,418) near you. You’ll get contact information for the apartments, so you can call or e-mail the property manager, listing agent or owner directly. Once you’ve scheduled viewings, the app will provide a map from where you are to each destination. With the iPhone version, you can snap pictures and jot down notes as you take your tours, then save them with the property listing on your phone to keep track of what you’ve seen.Naked Apartments (nakedapartments.com)Brokers aren’t always evil. The two Harvard grads behind this site believes the good ones are worth searching for before your apartment hunt begins: Complete an anonymous profile that includes your income and credit score (if you wish), in addition to your search criteria; agents with matching listings will then send you a list of possible fits. See a unit you like? Check out reviews of the broker—the site’s other users have already vetted them for you. If the broker’s ratings are poor, you can search the site’s list of rentals to find another, more highly rated agent with listings in the same building.Nestio (nestio.com)Keeping track of all the potential pads that catch your eye can be a headache. This service enables apartment hunters to save listings from any website to a free personal account by clicking a toolbar button Nestio installs in a browser. The website pulls in photos, plus price, address and layout information for comparison. It also taps into Foursquare to show nearby amenities, and lets you calculate distances to your office or a friend’s place and share favorites with roommates for them to check out and comment on. The free iPhone app allows users to upload their own photos and add notes as they view each property.New York Bits (nybits.com)You can contact management companies that will rent to you directly on New York Bits, instead of paying hefty fees to a broker who screens places for you: The company checks that each listing submitted is a no-fee rental (and investigates any disputes if a fee appears later down the line), not brokers attempting to lure people to a fee apartment. Use the search tool to home in on no-fee pads meeting your criteria for size, price, amenities and location. Or click through the site’s extensive list of rental buildings to find out if, for example, the charming complex across the street from your favorite bakery has vacancies.PadMapper (padmapper.com)PadMapper focuses almost exclusively on the location of your new digs: For best results, type in your desired zip code; available listings, culled form Craigslist and a number of other apartment-search sites, will pop up on a Google map. Use the filter to further home in on units meeting your criteria.Place of Mine (placeofmine.com)What Kayak did for flights, this website hopes to do for rentals. Launched in February, it allows you to search listings from a bevy of sources, including StreetEasy and Craigslist, as well as local classifieds, brokerage websites and property managers. Place of Mine draws on publicly available information to rate each apartment on a ten-point scale—comparing it to other units with the same number of bedrooms and baths in the city—on price, access to public transport, and proximity to amenities such as parks, shops and restaurants. As with Nestio, signed-up users can map their favorite destinations to see what’s close, and they can create lists to share with roommates and add images and comments. There’s no app yet for on-the-go updates, so you’ll need to remember your insights until you’re back at your computer.StreetEasy (streeteasy.com)Before you even look at a rental, this site lets you investigate areas you’re interested in and consider details like the schools potential pads are zoned for, potential commute distance and the price per square foot. Street Easy provides listings from owners, brokers and no-fee brokers, but it also arms you with info that can help you score a good deal—including the length of time each has been on the market.Trulia (trulia.com)Size is what matters most at Trulia, where you can filter apartments by square footage—in addition to the usual criteria of price range, number of rooms and location. Though the site is skewed toward those who want to buy, it does feature thousands of rental properties updated daily and offers a wealth of user-generated information to those thinking of moving to an unfamiliar ‘hood. Similar to Yelp, other hunters post their reactions to the neighborhood’s cleanliness and walkability, and weigh in on nearby parks and schools.Urban Edge (urbanedgeny.com)The frequently refreshed listings on this site, which are never more than 18 days old, come directly from owners, property managers and leasing managers—no broker postings allowed.See more in Style & Design

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Apartment-hunting tips

• “There are only two things that matter this year for renters: having funds readily available and all the paperwork in order. Spring is typically the busiest time for rentals, and limited inventory makes the competition all the more difficult.”—Andrew Barrocas, CEO of MNS (mns.com) • “Start doing your research at least 60 days out, just to set reasonable expectations for your budget, and then 30 days out, you can seriously look for your apartment.”—Mark Sperry, vice president of Urban Edge (urbanedgeny.com) • “In such a tight market, landlords will show their properties mostly during business hours. Take time off from work and conduct your search while banks are open. Searching for apartments after work hours limits the number of places you’ll be able to see, and since banks are closed, it’s harder to be competitive by putting any substantial [amount of] money down.”—Douglas Wagner, executive director of leasing for Bond New York (bondnewyork.com) • “Consider a neighborhood that doesn’t necessarily have charm, and think about what it will be like a few years in the future. [Areas] where development is still a few years down the road—Downtown Brooklyn or the far West Side, for example—might be good places to look for deals. And on move-in day, don’t touch a thing until all problems have been documented. Take photos!”—Sarah Firshein, editor of Curbed National (curbed.com) • “When renters decide to only search for no-fee apartments, they’re limiting their options significantly. We suggest these renters lower their maximum monthly rent so they can afford to pay the fee. They’ll find a lot more options and may come across some great deals.”—Joe Charat, CEO of Naked Apartments (nakedapartments.com) • “If you don’t meet the typical requirements—a minimum of 40 to 50 times the monthly rent in verifiable annual income—and have bad credit, prepare a guarantor and/or monies for extra security deposits in advance. This way you can respond to any objections from a position of strength."—Adina Azarian, president of Adina Equities (adinaequities.com) • “I remind my clients [to] keep an open mind. Often a buyer has a preconceived idea of what they want; the exact type of unit in a specific neighborhood, [but] they end up in something completely different and are very happy.”—Jason Walker, executive vice president of Prudential Douglas Elliman (elliman.com)—Interviews by Amy Plitt • “Always prioritize location. The most common mistake that newcomers to NYC make is to choose amenity packages over location. There are lots of great options in Williamsburg and Greenpoint where you can get a larger apartment for a cheaper price in a neighborhood that has the vibe that the Village did a decade ago.”—Jeffrey Schleider, managing director of Miron Properties (mironproperties.com) • “Some people think that they can find an apartment first and then worry about employment letters, tax returns and landlord references. Clients must be prepared with all of their necessary funds and paperwork before we begin the apartment search. It is not uncommon for my clients and I to see an apartment at noon one day and sign the lease the first thing the next morning.”—Morgan Turkewitz, salesperson with Citi Habitats (citi-habitats.com) • “Make sure to visit your desired neighborhood several times before signing the lease, at different times in the day. A seemingly quiet neighborhood by day can potentially turn into a noisy, crowded neighborhood at night, or vice versa.”—Danny Marom, StreetEasy (streeteasy.com) See more in Style & Design

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How to find a cheap apartment in NYC

Ten tips for finding a cheap apartment. Make direct contactThe easiest way to save money is to avoid paying a broker's fee. "Look for a building with a rental office directly on site," suggests architect Hayes Slade, whose Slade Architecture firm knows something about affordable housing (it won an award for its design of a Brooklyn housing project in 2010). "That way you can negotiate directly with the landlord and skip a real-estate agent fee." In order to ditch online searches, Slade recommends walking the streets of your desired neighborhood and looking for offices and for rent signs. That's how investment banker Jessica Gutierrez found a studio she loves in Battery Park City. "Ask doorman," she says. "I would first ask if this a condo or is there a leasing office. If it was a condo, I would ask if they had a list of owners renting out their apartments. At the ones that did, I would leave my business card, and I got a lot of callbacks from owners renting their apartments themselves." Victoria Hagman, president of the Brooklyn-focused agency Realty Collective, hit the pavement too. "When I was looking for an apartment," she says, "I would go to moving sales every weekend and ask, 'Has your landlord found someone to take your apartment yet? Can I see it?'" For more tips, look for Realty Collective's new apartment-hunting classes at the Brooklyn Brainery (brooklynbrainery.com; next class May 16, $10). Look at bigger apartment buildings"A good way to find an affordable apartment in Manhattan is to look in buildings that have between 15 and 30 apartments," says Joshua Price of the Price Law Firm LLC, which specializes in landlord-tenant representation. Odds are good that if the building has rent-stabilized apartments, they will stay that way. "In those buildings, it's less likely that, when an apartment becomes vacant, the landlord will expend the enormous amount of money necessary to deregulate an apartment. Generally an investor with a ten-unit building is trying to deregulate every unit and then sell the building. Someone with a 30-unit building is more likely to be thinking to hold it and not spend as much money on each vacancy." Face something uglyNone of us dreams of gazing out our windows and seeing on-ramps and toll booths, but it might be better for your bank account. "Proximity to generally undesirable transportation facilities can be a money saver," says Ryan Harris, a city planner and a local representative of the American Planning Association. "Look for areas near elevated train lines, highways, or bridge and tunnel entrances to be more affordable than those even one or two blocks away." Harris himself has a colleague who pays $1,850 for what he calls a "very comfortable" one-bedroom right by the Midtown Tunnel—when the median rent for one bedrooms in the rest of that section of Murray Hill is, he notes, $2,295. Buy earplugs"Apartments that face noisy construction sites or other noise-generating operations can be a deal if you are willing to put up with it," says Morgan Turkewitz of Citi Habitats. "Apartments above restaurants or bars tend to be less expensive, as are buildings located along busy avenues." City planner Harris agrees, adding that "for those not bothered by noise and disruption, construction of the Second Avenue subway will continue for another four-plus years, and I suspect it will depress prices along Second Avenue to some degree." In fact, it did for Jessica Samakow, a 21-year-old intern at an online company who moved into a studio on the Upper East Side last August. "The broker I dealt with said the normal price for my apartment was around $1,600," she says. "But because I'm right near the Second Avenue subway construction, I got the construction discount and now pay $1,300." Wait until MayLorraine Nadel, senior attorney at Nadel & Associates, a midtown firm that handles real-estate issues and landlord-tenant litigation, recommends watching for a change to the city law that will go into effect on May 1. The new edict will require that apartments in most buildings with three units or more be occupied for more than 30 consecutive days. "This means that it will be illegal to rent out apartment units for short-term stays," she says. "This should increase the supply of available apartments, which should in turn cause rents to drop, since apartment units can no longer be kept off the market to be operated as if they were hotel rooms." In fact, wait until winterTypically, fewer people move in the winter, making landlords ready to deal. When designer and home stager Susan Goldstein was in the market for a new place, she contacted landlords between Thanksgiving and Christmas. "We looked at buildings that offered incentives," she says. Her broker, David J. Bucci of A.C. Lawrence & Co., reports that Goldstein was able to get one month of rent free, and the building paid the broker's fee. "The majority of leases turn over during the summer, so the inventory is high, but so are prices and the number of people looking increases dramatically," he says. "If you are looking for a deal, the winter months are the way to go." Throw in a little elbow grease"Most landlords are happy to share the cost of certain repairs and deduct the cost from the rent," says Candice Vilaire of Brooklyn Heights Real Estate. "Taking care of the property—painting, recycling, snow-shoveling, vacuuming the hallway—is a good idea to get a reduction on the rent, especially in smaller buildings." Vilaire once negotiated an annual rent reduction of $2,500 for an architect client who was willing to redo some outdated kitchen cabinets for the landlord. "The rent was decreased by about $200 a month, they lived with a beautiful kitchen, and everyone was happy." Find a low-key neighborhood"Check for neighborhoods that are never mentioned in the real estate section of The New York Times," says Mitchell Moss, a professor of urban policy and planning at NYU Wagner. "Look for industrial areas where there are no Internet cafes or health-food markets." His suggestions: Ridgewood, Queens, and East Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Watch for extrasUtility bills can quickly add a hefty bump to your monthly outlay. For example, while landlords typically pay heating costs, electricity may come out of your pocket. "One thing renters should watch for: older buildings that are converted to electric heat," says Nancy Rankin, an architect with John G. Waite Associates, a firm that specializes in historic architecture. "Usually the installation costs are much cheaper for the landlord, but the monthly electric bill to heat the apartment will be very high." Rise upAs many of us already know from personal experience, the rent really is too damn high. "There are no affordable apartments. Not in Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens or anywhere upstate," says Jimmy McMillan, the man who has run for mayor and governor on the Rent Is Too Damn High ticket. "The buildings are crumbling but the landlords keep making the rent go up and up and up." So what can you possibly do to lower your monthly fees? McMillan knows: "The young people have to rise up and overthrow the votes of their parents. They must rise up like the young people in the Arab world and across the country. But they must rise up using democratic means, rise up through their votes and vote smarter." So if all the above tips, don't work, you know what you have to do.

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Comments

7 comments
Dave
Dave

Buyer's be aware. I found Listings Project not useful at all. I submitted a listing entry on Oct 29, 2013 to rent out my apartment. I didn't hear back from Ms. Stephanie Diamond till a week later asking very basic info like fees and whether I am a broker or owner. Obviously she didn't read my listing because it says "listed by owner and no broker's fee". I already found a tenant by the time Stephanie contact me. Finally, they gave me some lame excuses and refused to refund my money.

Vish
Vish

Now there's also Apartable.com -- they have detailed, accurate listings from all over the city, updated multiple times a day so it's always up-to-date. You can easily search by a variety of things you can't find anywhere else.

David Elan
David Elan

There is also a cool new website if you're looking to buy or rent a place in New York city. I found my condo at The Sheffield 57 through www.manhattanscout.com

Cheezy
Cheezy

There's also an app called Smart Renter that has tailored rent calculators and note taking templates for renters.

Sherri
Sherri

Wow thanks for the great info. It will definitely help me with finding a new place to live.