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.