Most Important - Be Prepared
Before you view any apartments, have your documents in order and bring them with you! When you see an apartment you like, you'll be ready to secure it. If you don't have your paperwork with you, the apartment could go to the applicant who sees the place right after you.
Where you'll meet an agent
Some agents - not all - require that you meet them in advance at their offices. Agents will share the listing's address when you meet face-to-face. (This is so you don't bypass the agent.) You'll likely meet him or her at a location close to the listing, such as a nearby coffee shop.
Time of day
Most apartments are not available to see after 6pm because most buildings don't want non-tenants roaming around. To see a luxury doorman at night is next to impossible. Also, a lot of management companies aren't open after 8pm. Some even have restrictions about weekends - they work Monday through Friday. In other words, you'll have to be a little flexible.
- Key issues: Some landlords are bad at coordinating keys. When you arrive at a building, expect possible delays while you or your agent track down the super or the doorman to get the key. Annoying - we know - but these are experiences all New Yorkers share.
- Crowded buildings: When there are a lot of viewings in the same building, especially during weekends, you may need to wait in the lobby until it's your turn to view the apartment. Bring a book.
Either you'll walk to the various apartments, or you'll take the subway or buses between different apartments. Don't expect an agent to pay for your transportation costs. If agents did that for every client they met, they'd lose a lot of money.
How long does a visit take?
Budget two to three hours to see a few apartments. Each apartment takes approximately 45 minutes to travel to, get in, and see. So if you can only view during your lunch hour, then plan to see one apartment per day. And keep in mind that on the third or fourth day, the first unit you saw will probably be gone, so don't be a lunch-hour hunter. Try to make time to view four or five apartments in one session.