August 20, 2004


We're counting the final hours to the signing. I hate depending on wire transfers and things. Inevitably there will be a fly in the ointment. We're walking out the door in 2 minutes.

After looking at scores of apartments the best ones (by far) were from craigslist apartments by owner or via local brokers. The local brokers are a colorful bunch and the best way to find them is simply to walk the neighborhoods that interest you. Many of these offices are one or two person operations. Frank our broker has a small chaotic office right down the street from the townhouse we are taking. Several of his workers are octogenarians, the office couldn't be more disorganized, but Frank consistently delivered nice apartments. We had similar experiences in Fort Greene, in the East Village, and further up the street in Cobble Hill. Most of the websites of big brokerage companies were near useless and mainly seem designed to draw you in. I probably called on 30 ads from big sites. Maybe 2 or 3 were actually available. I also found MLX and RentDirect to be fairly useless, unless you are into giant high rise buildings. Both had 5-10 new listings a day, almost all for huge developments.

Craigslist isn't as pure in New York as it is elsewhere although Craig is trying diligently to weed out the drek but it's tough. Some shady things we've seen: Brokers list apartments in the 'by owner' section simply ignoring the classification, they take listings by legit owners and re-list them with their own phone numbers or with different wording, they list completely fake apartments and when they have you on the phone try to get you into something else, and they tend to hassle owners renting their own apartments and often bully them into some sort of deal, etc. This is a huge extra tax on New Yorkers who rent both in time and money. This said a good broker will have access to a database with almost all non by-owner apartments. If you see something you like even if it is listed with someone else as an exclusive, call the broker you like. You are going to be forking out a month and a half of rent so it might as well be sombody cool.

posted at 11:18 AM by raul

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08/20/04 03:32 PM

Hey, thanks for the kind words, I appreciate 'em!

Please lemme know about unethical brokers, my biggest single project is dealing with 'em, twenty or so today. they generally come around after I remove all their ads and start blocking them. Mostly, they just want to see a level playing ground.


08/24/04 06:04 PM

While I'm sure rent-direct is great for some people, but our experience on both sides as both renters and landlords have been miserable. About 2 years ago my wife listed an apartment on 63rd & Madison on rent-direct. We got exactly 1 inquiry. An ad in the New York times gave us about 20 prospectives. When we listed on craigslist we were almost instantly were inundated with email and eventually found a great tenant.

As renters we found your site had very few listings that were a) not listed elsewhere b) weren't big soulless buildings or c) available. Also it is not free. It costs $165 to $195 in order to access full apartment details. Jenn found that after she registered many of the apartments that showed up in the free search were suddenly taken. MLX was very similar and had a similar set of listings.

Craigslist is truly free. Truly anonymous and darned convenient. Several of our friends have recently moved back or switched apartments and their experiences have been similar.

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