We all wish brokers are apartment genies. You tell them what you want, and they make it so – in exchange for a giant fee. However, that’s not always the case. We’ve all heard horror stories of bait and switches, deposit thieves and greedy management companies. I have lived through all of these things and survived.
My roommate and I just spent the last month looking for a two bedroom apartment in Williamsburg for no more than $2,000 a month. Over the weeks, we amassed the numbers of dozens of brokers and even grew to know them personally. But as each one of them learned our requirements, their reactions ranged from telling us we will never ever find that — “not even in Bushwick!” — to outright laughing in our faces.
So where am I now? An adorable $1,900 two-bedroom apartment in the heart of Williamsburg. Here are three tips to help you also find your perfect apartment.
1. Persistence is Key
If you feel as though your requirements are realistic, then don’t give up. You’ll reach your lowest low before you find the place you’re meant to be in. Don’t be tempted to sign a year (or longer) lease for an apartment that has a downside which will annoy you for 12 months.
Don’t want to be more than 10 minutes away from a subway station? You’ll hate yourself on all those nights where you’re coming home late and have ages to walk. My roommate and I apartment-hunted for three weekends and then started looking at night after work. We called all the brokers every two days to ask if anything new had come in. My point? Don’t give up.
2. Be Willing To Compromise
There are the tiny details that you know you can live without: central air, balcony, doorman. Then there are the total deal-breakers: functioning kitchen, pet permission, windows. In New York, you may run into all kinds of apartment quirks that you might not even notice at first glance. Our apartment doesn’t have a sink in the bathroom. We knew we had to compromise on something. After seeing apartments with nails sticking out, walls with electrical wires squirming out and a scary duplex in an industrial wasteland, brushing our teeth in the shower was the least of our worries.
3. Believe You Can Do It!
Unless you’re a trillionaire, you’ll probably have some cap on your rent budget. Some brokers will try to get you to squeeze every penny out to extend your budget. When we told brokers our budget, several of them recommended apartments we could see for $3,000. Clearly the message wasn’t getting through. But what these people mean when they say “impossible” is just that it’s hard. Places will come up, but they will also disappear just as quickly so be ready to move on it. When we found our perfect apartment, the broker said if we wanted it starting the 15th of the month, we could sign the lease that night. In New York, timing is everything. So we pulled the trigger and couldn’t be happier. They didn’t even require a deposit for my small dog.
So trust your instincts and don’t give in to any pressure from people who don’t know what’s right for you. It will take a little time and a lot of energy, but in this city, things can change in blink of an eye. Happy hunting!