Finding your dream apartment is not easy. It takes time, diligence and patience (the latter of the three I admit I often lack), but when you finally find it, I promise all that work will be well worth it.
When I set out to find mine, I had a very clear objective and plan, and I made sure I didn’t stray from it. This is the most important part of your apartment search!
But first, I’d like to tell you a little about myself. I am a graduating college student with a huge passion for marketing and advertising, planning to snag a great career in the field in these upcoming months. I was born and raised in “suburban” Brooklyn, but attending college in Manhattan introduced me to a whole different lifestyle that I fell in love with. I promised myself that I would do whatever it takes to stay in the city after I graduate, and I am making it happen now.
So, back to the basics of my apartment hunt. The first decision in starting to look for an apartment is to pick a specific area or areas where you’d like to live. My advice is to love where you live, and not to settle. With dedication, you can find places within your price range in your top choice locations.
For me, this location is Manhattan’s financial district. I have grown to love it, so I limited my search to this area.
The next decision is to use an agent, or not to use an agent. You can go either way. I did a combination of both. First, I scoured the Internet and created a list of residential buildings in the financial district. You can do this simply by running Google searches with the keywords “List of residential buildings” followed by the name of the location or town you are interested in.
You don’t have to do this and most people don’t, but like I said before, your diligence and patience will be rewarded! Using websites that post apartment listings and going through an agent are all good resources but how do you know they are showing you absolutely everything available?
While I put together my list of buildings I wanted to check out, I made sure to include the phone number of each building or leasing office. I then called each building, asked if there was anything available in my price range, and made an appointment to go see it that Saturday (which was the only day I had available to look at apartments). Let’s just say that Saturday was a super busy one.
Which reminds me. Set the dollar amount that you are comfortable paying each month, including utilities, and don’t take an apartment that is too expensive! You will thank yourself later.
To be extra thorough, I also met with an agent when I was done seeing the buildings I had found on my own. Typically, if you rent an apartment that an agent shows you, the agent collects a commission that you are expected to pay (it usually amounts to about one month’s rent). You can evade that fee by asking to only see ”no fee buildings.” A no fee building is one that actually pays the agent fee for you, so it’s as if you found it on your own!
When I met with my agent that Saturday evening she was truly impressed with how many apartments I had scoped out on my own. I had already seen many of the buildings on her list which allowed us to quickly and efficiently make certain that I had seen every single apartment in my price range in downtown Manhattan.
My next recommendation is one that can backfire: sleep on it before you make your final decision. If you see almost twenty different listings in one day like I did, you won’t be in any mindset to make a final decision. If you wake up the next morning, after weighing the pros and cons of your favorite spot, and still believe it is the best space for you, this is the time to act fast. Go put down that deposit! Someone else will most likely be falling in love with it, too.
And this is what I did. The very next day, I ran to the only bank open on Sunday, and put down my deposit, taking my apartment off the market. And good thing I was in a rush; like I expected, I beat another love struck shopper with their check in hand by a matter of minutes for the very same listing that I wanted.
This is an exhausting process, and that weekend was overwhelming. But when it was all said and done I had found the only apartment in NYC that I believe was made just for me, and I felt exhilarated.
Now the next big challenge: to decorate it!!
If you are moving into the NYC area and would like to use a friendly, no-pressure, personable and super efficient real estate agent, I highly recommend Lana Parker from Hudson Properties in NYC. She was the best!
This iPhone app called Nestio really helped me in organizing my apartment search. I was able to list each of the places I had seen, write notes and even upload pictures of each listing.