Want to find an apartment on your own without the help of an agent or broker? Here’s your game plan.
Tap Your Network
Savvy renters speak up. Don’t be shy about making it known that you are searching for a new apartment. Tell your friends, family and co-workers that you are on the hunt and ask for tips. Hone in on people who live in your preferred neighborhoods — ask how they found their apartment and if there are buildings to you should know about.
Use the Internet as your megaphone to tap an even larger network. Send out a mass e-mail, share on Facebook and Twitter and consider even posting on LinkedIn. Tell your network you’re looking, and ask if they know of any available apartments coming up.
Search No-Fee Sites
Most rental sites — including Naked Apartments — allow you to specify “no-fee apartments” in your search parameters. This is a super easy way to customize your search to surface no broker fee apartments.
Hit the Pavement
There’s nothing like a little boots on the ground, field research. Take an afternoon to walk the streets of your favorite neighborhoods and scout for vacancies. Often you’ll find a phone number for a landlord or a management company in the lobbies and foyers of buildings you like. Make note of those numbers and reach out to see if there are any available apartments. If you don’t have any luck at first, call again. Alternatively, you can also ask if the landlord manages over buildings in the area and has vacancies there.
Don’t be afraid to ask doormen and supers for tips either! Building staff often have great intel on what’s going in the building and who’s moving out.
Don’t Expect the Unicorn
No-fee listings are often slightly more expensive than apartments represented by brokers because it requires more work on the landlord’s part. In some cases, landlords agree to pay the broker’s fee themselves, instead having the renter cover it, which then results in them upping the monthly cost of rent. All that is to say, chances are you’ll won’t find a super cheap no-fee apartment and more likely, you’ll have to bump up your budget to accommodate this. Keep in mind, though, you’ll be saving on that broker’s fee so you’ll have extra cash in the bank.
Also keep in mind, most landlords and management companies make listings available only to agents, not to renters, which means you might encounter less no-fee apartment inventory.
Prepare to Have a Second Full-Time Job
An agent’s full-time job is finding apartments as soon as they’re available, knowing what to avoid, what to see, what each building is like, and more. For you to do the same, it might take as much time, if not more.
Steel Yourself for Some Fierce Competition
When you go it alone, you’re competing with thousands of agents — professional apartment hunters — who are currently helping other renters. Those are some tough odds.
Celebrate When You Succeed
If you put the work and time in, you may find an incredible deal on your own and save thousands in broker’s fees. That will buy you a lot of champagne