Let’s be honest, apartment hunting in New York is brutal. If you’re not careful, you’ll be scammed and cheated, paying monthly rent for an extremely expensive cardboard box. That’s before you can even send out a celebratory  “I’m living in New York, aren’t you jealous?” tweet. Sad life, right? I’m just kidding, but it’s true that you need to keep your eyes wide open when it comes to the coveted ‘no-fee’ apartment listing hunt. I assume you’ve done your due diligence and deciphered the true mystery of no-fee rental listings.  You haven’t? Well, my friend, it’s a good thing I’m here so you don’t receive the short end of the stick in your search. Remember: someone always has to pay. Make sure it’s the other guy.

Be Realistic

The first step to successfully and safely finding your dream no-fee listing is realizing it probably doesn’t exist. With this mindset, you’ll double check every step along the way and won’t fall for every trap without a second thought. This is not to say that they don’t exist, but I think that taking a glass-half-full approach is safer in any real estate search.  In addition, be aware that your choices are limited.  All those aspects that are “must haves” in your apartment might have to be sacrificed in order to avoid paying the broker fee. This makes a lot of sense if you consider that, by not using a broker, you miss out on 75% of New York’s listings. Keep in mind that you can always take your place to another level with the right furniture and décor pieces. Juts take a look at our Staycations collection for some inspiration. 

how to stay safe looking for a no fee apartment rental in NYC - Studio Apartment
photo by Fashion Home & Interior Design

Be Friendly

Tell everyone you’re looking for an apartment. I mean everyone. If you’re waiting in that Whole Foods grocery line, feel free to open to the person behind you. Now is not the time to be shy. This is not a surprise, but sometimes the most credible referrals don’t come from your computer screen. Get out there and talk to your community, family and friends. Chances are someone knows someone who is best friends with someone who knows something. Isn’t that the way it usually works? According to NakedApartments, 30% of renters find an apartment through connections. So, be friendly and make them.

how to stay safe looking for a no fee apartment rental - be friendly
photo by Tweak Town

Be Diligent

While I want you to be friendly, an important part of the search does happen online. Word of advice: don’t use only your favorite online platform. Seriously, I know that it’s human to play favorites and use the website/platform you feel most comfortable with. I get it, I continue to use Safari just because my tabs are set up just the way I like them. But, in this case it is in your best interest to cross reference any listing you find on different websites in order to ascertain that they are legitimate. If you’re only looking at apartment listings on Craigslist, check out these other sites. There are many different resources at your disposal. It may be a pain, but in order to stay safe you have to check and double check each listing.  Specifically, beware of listings that don’t have the actual address listed.

how to stay safe looking for a no fee apartment rental in nyc - be diligent
photo by CNBC

Be Active

Hit the pavement and hit the pavement hard. If you really want to safely nab that no fee listing, take an active approach and beat the couch potatoes surfing through real estate websites at work. Comb through your favorite neighborhoods and buildings and directly call management companies or landlords asking for vacant listings. Sometimes management companies list phone numbers outside of buildings and it doesn’t hurt to directly ask for vacancies that are not yet listed. Word of warning: if you are dealing directly with on-site leasing agents be aware that even if there are more listings in the building they are only telling you about a couple in order to maintain negotiating leverage. Be upfront about what you want and aware that there is almost always a little bit more to the story.

how to stay safe looking for no fee apartment rental in NYC - be activephoto by Style Aficionado

Be Open Minded

You’ve been looking for months, but you just can’t find that no-fee apartment listing in West Village or any other neighborhood that you’ve set your heart on. While your stubbornness is admirable, it’s either time to pay the broker or stretch your neighborhood search away from just the “hottest” spots. You’ve already done the latter? Well, then you just might have to consider paying that pesky broker’s fee. Hey, we all know you don’t want to pay that. But if you choose your real estate agent or brokerage wisely, you might have a shot at having a better experience than going at the hunt alone. No one wants to have apartment hunting as a second job. Let me save you some time and introduce you to TripleMint, a New York City based real estate brokerage.The team at TripleMint is well known throughout New York City, and can help you navigate the ins and outs of real estate. In their hands, at least you know you’ll be safe.

how to stay safe looking for no fee apartment rental in nyc - open minded
photo by Refinery 29

Good luck hunting!


This post is contributed from our friends at TripleMint. TripleMint is a full-service real-estate brokerage that combines technology, teamwork and personalized service. Its advanced, easy-to-use platform pools listings and updates continuously, allowing its users to see everything NYC brokers see. Maybe more. 

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