So, ok - mostly this blog is about downtown sales, but we get a bunch of email everyday from people asking for help with rentals. Since rentals are major, major drivers of sales prices (hello price/rent ratio analysis!) we thought we'd give some tips on how to actually find a rental in NYC, complete with some rental market price discovery tips for all of you buyers enthusiastically trying to calculate some kind of breakeven point for a given unit.
Traditionally, craigslist has been the largest (and for a long time, the only) source of no fee rental information in NYC. Everyone by now has gone to the apartments section and clicked on the "by owner" link, which allows you to view only apartments that are rented by their owners. These apartments are de facto considered "no fee". However, as anyone who has tried to find a no-fee apartment on craigslist in the past year or so can attest to, the site has become a virtual magnet for every scam artist and bait-and-switch operator on the planet. The New York Times even ran a great article back in June on the topic highlighting the prevalence of online scammers and the susceptibility of would-be renters looking for great deals, to their tricks. In order to find an apartment on craigslist these days (which relies on users "flagging" inappropriate posts as a QA measure
In order to fill the growing market desire for accurate, scam-free no-fee information, several sites have sprung up (or gained popularity) over the past year. In no particular order, here are the three most useful:
- nybits.com - this is how we found our first professionally managed rental apartment in Manhattan and we still love 'em. This website provides a catalogue of all professionally managed buildings in New York City, as well as current vacancies at each building. Although this site is not going to win any graphics awards (or user interface awards for that matter), it's got a ton of info and is organized by building, which is highly useful. Drawbacks include a lack of unit numbers (see Urban Sherpa comments below) and listings only for professionally managed all-rental buildings. You will not see individual units in condo buildings for example, as a result, which unfortunately eliminates those apartments that are being rented legitimately by owners.
- Streeteasy.com - if you've ever read this blog (or any other NYC real estate blog), you have come to know and deeply love the beautiful, easy-to-use, chock full of information Streeteasy.com. Unfortunately, whereas Streeteasy absolutely excels in the sales market, it really falls flat with rentals. Unlike the sales interface, there are no unit numbers for many rentals, which typically feature a building location, a price, square footage (sometimes) and some grainy porn-like photos of units which may or may not be the actual unit for rent. Although Streeteasy is difficult to use for rental comps, if you're actually looking to rent an apartment, it's not a bad bet and wins hands down for comprehensiveness, listing both professionally managed units as well as owner rentals - both brokered and direct (no-fee) listings.
- Urban Sherpa - so we have to admit, we hadn't really been over to Urban Sherpa until those guys started following us on Twitter (thanks for reading!), but once we got over there, we LOVED what we saw. Here's the beauty of Urban Sherpa: every listing that we looked at had a unit number. Although the site is not as comprehensive as Streeteasy for by owner rentals, Urban Sherpa is an unbelievable value-add if you are looking in a managed building (listen up "I'm waiting out the market and renewing my lease" buyers). If you are renegotiating your lease, pop on over there and check out how much a similar apartment in your own
And now, a question for our readers - is there a site here that we've neglected to mention? Let us know! We will check it out and provide updates.