New York City

How to Avoid Broker Fees When Moving into a New York City Apartment

By Seth Fera-Schanes

You are excited to move to New York but know there is a laundry list of work to get you started.  This might include finding a job if you went the 2 suitcase and 1 way plane ticket route.  It will include locating your nearest grocery stores and quickly learning how many bags you can carry home (remember most of us don’t have cars.  I can carry up to 8 bags of groceries at this point….)  Where is your local bar, sushi and thai restaurants.  Brunch place for new residents is also a must.  Finding the right subway car that lets you off at the exact exit that is closest to your apartment is for a slightly more seasoned newcomer but trust me that within 4 months you will know exactly where to stand.

I feel like I might be overlooking one small detail.  Possibly something about Maslow and shelter.  That’s right, you need to find a place to live and very few cities can be more nerve wracking than New York.  It’s everything you have already heard and read about (expensive, inevitability of dealing with some cockroaches or mice, loud, multiple entry doors, lots of stairs.)

On top of everything else, when you are looking for an apartment you will most likely run into brokers who will require a fee for their services. This article is not a rant about brokers.  It is a few suggestions for those looking for a place to live who don’t want to pay or can’t afford a broker fee.Brownstones in New York City

Roommates.  Nothing new here and like many people living in the city you share a space with 1-4 other people.  Not a bad way to go.  I have had great roommates in the past who continue to be my friends to this day.  Find a place where the people are already on the lease and need to either renew or sublet.  There are some really helpful groups on facebook you can join and even target specific neighborhoods.  I have used Craigslist in the past with much success.  However, with any new living arrangement, be sure to grab a coffee or drink with the person, see the apartment and ask a lot of questions.

No-fee websites.  These do exist but one word of caution.  People will try and game the system for rental sites and if you select the “no-fee” filter, you will still get many people charging a broker fee.  You can check out sites like go no fee and work directly with a management company.

Sublet.  This is a transient city with people coming and going throughout the year.  Someone might be in the middle of a lease and get a new job in another city or are ready for a change.  You can look at sites such as leasebreak to find an apartment that can fit your needs.

Sweat Equity.  My personal choice and one that can feel like the most difficult path.  Choose a neighborhood where you want to live.  This way you can focus all your efforts by not running around town.  Walk every street within that area.  I am very serious about this and speak from experience.  Block after block looking at each building (and make sure to look up because usually signs are hung on the second floor.)  Write down every number you see and be sure to save the address in your phone along with that number.

What you are looking for is to get in direct contact with a building management company or owner.  Don’t be afraid to walk into the lobby of doorman buildings and ask if they have vacancy or know of any openings in the areas (and remember to be friendly, it will go a long way.)  If you see someone who looks like a building super, say a quick hello and tell them you are looking.  Putting in the time and making the calls, as stressful as it may seem, will go a long way.  And at the end of the day, if you can’t find a place to live, you can always contact a broker….

1 reply »

  1. This is a very well-written and cogent article. From personal experience I can say that walking the streets is the most productive avenue, pardon the pun. You’re much better off having one brief in-person interaction than 10 impersonal email touch-points.

    Like

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