Saturday, December 3, 2011

Finding the “almost” perfect apartment in NYC

Finding an apartment in New York can be very tricky. Let’s be honest: you won’t find the perfect one useless you have an unlimited budget. Depending on the neighborhood, the vacancy rate (interesting market report here) goes approximately from 0.4% to 1.8% here (compared to 2.5% in Montreal, where I come from). Martin and I were lucky enough to arrive in the city at the end of the year, which is supposed to be a good period to find deals, but all year long, the competition is hard. 

Do I need a broker or not?

Personally, I did not enjoy my experience with a broker and ended up finding a great apartment by myself. Our Broker was specialized in two neighborhoods (this is the case for most brokers) and was not very helpful in finding places outside of his zone. He was pushing “his” neighborhoods and trying to  discourage us from searching in our preferred areas; I found this a little annoying. Anyway, regardless of whether you want to work with a broker or not, here are a few bits of advices that may help you find a nice place.

Effective tricks for your apartment searching:
  1. Set alerts in the New York Times real estate section: The New York Times website has an interesting and useful real estate section. It is renowned to be the most up to date place to find listings in NYC. If you have the chance, set alerts matching your criteria a few months before your move, this will allow you to learn a lot about the market and upgrade your budget – or adjust your expectations - if necessary.
  2. Take a walk in your preferred neighborhoods: When I arrived in New York, the first thing I did was to go for long walks in the different neighborhoods that I like. This allowed me to discover apartment buildings that I never would have found otherwise. To get information about vacancies, don’t hesitate to ask the doorman, note the name or the address of the building or simply take a picture of it. You'll just have to do a quick search on the Web when you get home.
  3. Complete your research with the website New York Bits: The New York Bits Website regroups information about buildings and vacancies in the different areas of NYC. It can be very useful: you get a brief description of the building, its situation on a map of New York, availabilities (updated in most cases), prices and a link to the Website of the landlord. You can also do a search with your preferred neighborhoods and your price range.
I hope these tricks will work for you! And don’t forget that apartment searching must be fun. I had a great time visiting the different neighborhoods and buildings; this experience allowed me to discover my new city and feel rapidly comfortable in it, it also forced me to make sense of the subway system!

What are your favorite resources for apartment search?


  1. Sorry to hear about your mediocre experience with a broker, I can assure you some of us actually know how to find the best bang for your buck in every neighborhood. If you are looking for other great real estate resources, try

  2. @Aaron "Mediocre" is a very strong (maybe too strong) word to describe my experience with brokers, but I can't hide that I wasn't satisfied. Anyway, thanks for the useful info!