How do you find rental apartment in Philadelphia? (Coming from NYC)
October 9, 2014 5:48 PM   Subscribe

Philadelphians past and present: What is the normal way for going about finding an apartment in your city? In New York, we would either use Craigslist or pay a broker 10-15% of the yearly rent to find us an apartment (that usually wasn't posted on Craigslist).

When I search Craigslist Philly, there seems to be a lot of listings in the hot new neighborhoods (Manayunk, Fishtown, W. Philly), but not much in the established areas (Center City, Bella Vista, Filter Sq, etc).

Are there just not a lot of rentals in these areas, or do I need to use a broker? If I do use a broker, who pays the fee?

Thank you!
posted by NYC-BB to Grab Bag (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Welcome to Philly! Check out I've used that site to find two apartments in the city (in Manayunk and South Philly, but still).
posted by Diskeater at 5:53 PM on October 9, 2014

Yeah, it's really just a combination of Craigslist and walking around neighborhoods calling phone numbers that you see on For Rent signs; in my experience brokers aren't really a thing here. I think a lot of the Center City market is covered by a number of larger apartment management companies, too, so you'll start recognizing those pretty quickly. Off the top of my head, look at Philadelphia Management, Centra, Post Brothers, and Reinhold if you're into that sort of thing. Otherwise, there are a ton of smaller rental agencies and owners who aren't the best at Craigslist, so you'll just need to get numbers and call.
posted by The Michael The at 5:56 PM on October 9, 2014

I agree that brokers are not really a thing in Philly. I have friends who rent from Solo Realty and Robin Real Estate. If you have the time, I think it is worth walking the neighbourhoods you're interested in because the smaller owners will often just put a sign on the door or in a window with apartment openings, I see these all the time when running in center city. Also please take the time to get price adjusted, you can get so much more for your money in phl vs nyc.
posted by tangaroo at 6:22 PM on October 9, 2014

I found my place in Philly by walking around and calling the numbers of the management companies listed on signs. I think all the buildings I liked in Wash West were managed by Ark Properties and I just called them up, they showed me five that fit my parameters and I took one. It was much easier than NYC or Boston.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:58 PM on October 9, 2014

We do not do that broker thing in Philly. It's totally unnecessary. Also, the "finder" services advertise heavily, but are also totally an unnecessary expense.

NYC-BB: "When I search Craigslist Philly, there seems to be a lot of listings in the hot new neighborhoods (Manayunk, Fishtown, W. Philly), but not much in the established areas (Center City, Bella Vista, Filter Sq, etc)."

Errrm, the line there isn't really "established" versus "less established" so much as "very central" versus "how convenient this is depends on what you intend to be doing with your time." And I'm stifling a giggle at anyone calling Manayunk or W. Philly a "hot new" rental market. (Fishtown, yes, that is sort of a newish phenomenon for rental appeal.)

Philly Weekly's classified section used to be the best place to find the privately-owned properties for rent (by which I mean that the landlord is just a person who owns a rental property, as opposed to a realty company/property management company.) It's still worth checking out, but I think most folks have moved over to Craigslist.
posted by desuetude at 10:35 PM on October 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

I found two apartments (a loft and a 2-br house) using Philly Apartment Company, who are basically a landlord-paid broker. Or more of a management company? I don't know. They do the matchmaking, showings, and lease, and then everything from there on out is the landlord.

My impression is that it's good for (a) expensive places that don't have their own management company or just want to advertise more widely, or (b) landlords with day jobs who don't care about the initial bit of revenue lost.

Either way, it's worked for me. I've been in the 2-br house for 6 years with nary a rent increase.
posted by supercres at 6:39 AM on October 10, 2014

Craigslist for both the apartments I rented in Philly, the first of which was in a big apartment building in the Gayborhood, and the second of which was the top floor of a property in Old City that made my NYC friends weep with rage. Both of the rentals were directly from the owner without a management company being involved, but I did have to move quickly on the second, because direct-from-owner rentals like that in Old City tend to be rare and go very, very quickly by Philly standards.

And yeah, you definitely want to walk the neighborhood, especially in West Philly and Fishtown, which are newer areas. People can be kinda, ah, flexible in their descriptions of what counts as those neighborhoods.
posted by joyceanmachine at 7:19 AM on October 10, 2014

West Philly and Fishtown, which are newer areas

These are literally two of the most historic neighborhoods in the entire nation, both existing prior to 1800. It's just that in the last 15-20 years, they have become more gentrified.
posted by bearette at 11:22 AM on October 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I was a renter for 10 years and a landlord for another 10. I used Craigslist almost exclusively until a few years ago when it seemed I wasn't getting many hits from CL. The i enlisted the help of a broker. I have an ad up now for my Manayunk place and havent gotten a bite from CL so I listed on padmapper, trulia and zillow. Still no bites though so I think this is a difficult time of year to rent.
posted by PeaPod at 12:25 PM on October 14, 2014

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