How to get a good deal on an apartment

You don't have to suffer alone. Learn from those who've been there.

1. Shop when the temperature drops

“May to September is rental season,” says Tom Demsker, a Manhattan broker. “You can get better deals in the winter, because there are fewer people renting.” This worked for Katrina Tentor, who moved into a Park Slope studio in October. “I offered $100 per month less than the rent and said that was as high as I could go,” she says. “He took it.”

2. Put the broker on the defensive

“Target the apartment’s weaker points in negotiation,” says renter Judson Hannigan. “Location, outside noise, insufficient natural light, small kitchen, not enough storage space, poor maintenance, whatever it is. Find the elements of the apartment that the landlord or owner is worried you are going to bring up and use them to get that price down!” When you get around to talking rent, they’ve potentially warmed to the idea of taking less for the apartment.

3. Keep some things on the DL

Six words to keep to yourself: What are the rules for renovating? Richard Oceguera, an agent with Coldwell Banker Previews International, warns that this is especially poisonous if you’re up against a co-op board. Basically, you’re saying, “Hey, I’d like to make your building a living nightmare of a construction zone for the next year.” Chances are they’ll say, “Oh, hell no.” Simply find out the construction rules by reading the proprietary lease.

4. Play a little hard to get

The more competition the landlord or seller thinks he has, the quicker he’ll act, and with a more attractive deal. “As I visited other apartments, I would mention when one place’s two-bedroom was less than another’s,” says renter Lindsey Haigh. “You’re always looking—let [the landlord] know that, too,” Demsker adds.

5. Haggling’s not just for flea markets

Oceguera recommends asking for $50 to $100 off the monthly rent. Christian and Jennifer Sager loved a place that was pricey for the area. They offered the landlord a whopping $200 less per month than the listed rent—and got it.

6. Show them the money

In the world of sales, when you take the bank out of the equation, you get more wiggle room. “An all-cash offer gives you huge leverage,” adds Oceguera, “even if it’s not the full asking price.”

7. Arm yourself with the details

Have your financial background and credit history at the ready to show you’re serious. This makes the process go faster, which is incredibly attractive to a management company, landlord or seller. “Most people come in and go through a song and dance,” Demsker says. “The tendency is not to take anyone at face value unless they show they’re ready.”

NEXT: How to get a good deal on an apartment Learn from those who’ve been there.»

See the complete apartment guide»