Brokers make an apartment-rental search easier, doing lots of the legwork for you—and they charge 10 to 15 percent of a year’s rent to do it. “When there’s great economic strength, people can afford to pay commissions,” says Peter Jakobson Jr. of NoFeeRentals.com, a free listing service. In the post-bailout world, however, you may want to cut out the middleman, using the tips below. Hey, if it worked when you were 22 and broke …
Work the streets.
The time-sucking old trick still works. Prowl every block in the area where you want to live. Chat up every doorman and buzz every super.
Tell everyone your sob story.
One writer we know, tossed out of her newly sold building, was griping about her situation at the laundromat—and discovered that the owner was also a landlady.
Dig deeper into the Web.
Craigslist is king, but it’s not the world. Try Streeteasy.com, plus the online Times and Voice classifieds. RDNY.com and ListingSquare.com are less established but may also be worth a look.
Go straight to the source.
Management companies run dozens of buildings, and most charge fees only for background checks. “They were able to tell me about places [that] weren’t on Craigslist or in the classifieds yet,” says publishing executive Jonas Rideout, who found an Upper West Side apartment this way. Start at Stonehenge Management (stonehengemanagement.com), Jakobson Properties (nofeerentals.com), Solow Leasing (Solowresidential.com), Glenwood (glenwoodnyc.com), Rudin Management (rudin.com), and Rose Associates (rosenyc.com).
Call a broker—no, really.
Paul Gottsegen, director of Halstead Management, suggests calling a firm’s main number and asking for an agent who handles O.P. (“owner pays”) listings. “It’s like going to the sale rack first,” he says.