Stale Listings/Bait and Switch

Listings are often stale

When you start your hunt, you'll often run into situations where an apartment listed online is no longer available. Sites like Naked Apartments use sophisticated mechanisms to remove listings when the landlord or agent fails to, but no site is perfect.

Why? There's no central database of listings, landlords have difficulty communicating with sites and agents, and apartments can be on and off the market in hours. Again, welcome to New York.

The truth about...
Stock photos in listings

Gone by the time you show up

Often a landlord won't tell an agent the apartment is gone until the agent calls to arrange a viewing. Even worse, this can happen when an agent shows up and asks for the keys. Because a lot of individual landlords are difficult to reach, even the best agents can't always prevent this from happening. But if it happens repeatedly to your agent, find a new agent!

Bait and switch

Sometimes agents advertise apartments that simply do not exist. When you call to inquire about the listing, they'll make up a story about what happened to the make-believe apartment and offer to show you real apartments instead. It's called bait and switch; it's inexcusable, and we kick agents off our site for trying this. If you see it on our site, please let us know.

The Life Cycle of a Listing
FIG 2.6: The Life Cycle of a Listing

Why can't I see the address?

If an agent were to disclose the address of a listing, the renter might bypass the agent to avoid paying the fee. For a hard-working agent, this would be the equivalent of working for free. So you should expect to see a general location, such as Upper West Side (UWS), in the listing. When you meet the agent for a viewing, he or she will first meet you at a nearby spot (i.e. Starbucks).