Finding a place in NYC with absolute minimum of effort and time
June 18, 2017 8:19 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for an apartment in NYC and will only have a brief period of time in which to find an apartment and rent it. I have great credit and am willing to slightly overpay for convenience. What's the absolute fastest way to find an apartment? Can it be done in a day or two? Is there such a thing as a buyer's agent who can find it for you?
posted by 3491again to Work & Money (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If you're willing to pay, and have a high enough budget, you can get a real estate broker who will show you places tailored to (slightly above) whatever you tell them your budget is. Brokers generally charge a month and a half of the rent of whatever place you end up getting

It is good to have a clear idea of deal breakers before you start this process, if you don't want to waste time - How near do you need to be to a subway, and which subway line do you want to be close to? Do you need a washer-dryer in unit, or in the building? Would you live in a walk up, and if so how high are you willing to go? You also want to make sure you have all of your documents ready, and to have the credit check fee/deposit to take a place off the market when you go apartment hunting with the broker. Citi Habitats ( is a reputable agency, and I know people looking for places who have used them to find places in Manhattan.

Even with all of that done, it can take up to a week for landlords to run their credit checks and get you a lease to sign, so you might want to get an interim Air B-n-B in the area you're thinking of renting in.

The other option is to go with one of the larger, professional apartment management companies like Stonehenge (, apply remotely for an apartment, and take it sight unseen. There might be ways to take care of credit checks etc before you view the place with this option.

Good luck, apartment hunting here can be tough!
posted by MFZ at 9:47 PM on June 18

There's a lot of real estate brokers (who do rentals) but the quality is highly variable and most are rather terrible. If you can get a good recommendation, I suppose you can put things in their hands and hope it'll succeed but I wouldn't count on it with the brokers I've used.

If you want to live in a full-amenity doorman building, many of those are rented out directly by their management companies; you can contact the management company and proceed from there. As a local, I'd find buildings by walking by them, etc but at a quick glance, seems to have a solid list with links to their management companies. Many of those buildings look pretty similar on the inside (they are mostly design-by-committee for the "typical" renters); the websites have decent floorplans, etc so in a pinch, you can sign a lease without looking at the apartment and have some confidence it won't be awful.

The large buildings have a few advantages over private buildings: not dealing with listing real estate agents (awful in my experience; half the time they bait-and-switch), generally tolerable minimum standards (it may not be great but it won't be awful) and better rental logistics, where the management company has multiple apartments coming on the market on day X and you can pick-and-choose around your schedule instead of having a mad rush for a one-off place that's not yet vacated but needs to be rented by Y. On the flip side, those larger buildings will be more expensive and a different experience from living in a smaller place. In my experience, the professional management companies are good at processing applications and can get things approved pretty quickly if your credit is good and salary high enough to meet their standards, so you're unlikely to get stuck in application hell.
posted by bsdfish at 11:18 PM on June 18 [2 favorites]

Avalon. You will be overpaying for the convenience, though. But you won't be paying that 15% broker's fee.

Also, word is many of the new glass buildings in Downtown Brooklyn/Fort Greene are offering incentives due to market oversupply. 250 Ashland Place and nearby. If that's an okay location for you, you could probably hit several in that cluster in a single day.
posted by praemunire at 12:09 AM on June 19 [3 favorites]

Yes NYBits is a great resource for finding management company direct rentals.

You could also look at Glenwood apartments which is a large manager if "nice" buildings around the city. Similar to Avalon.

Basically, where "time to rent" increases is if you're limiting the available inventory by location, price, quality, etc. If you can settle on price and quality, and don't care about location (within reason), then you can quickly find a place by going to a large pool of like apartments.

Another option is Peter Cooper Village/Stuytown.
posted by teabag at 10:00 AM on June 19

you might want to get an interim Air B-n-B in the area you're thinking of renting in.

Oh: standard reminder that, for most buildings in NYC, rentals of less than 30 days without the main tenant present are illegal. Please do not help destroy our city in the process of moving into it.

I don't know why I didn't mention Stuy Town--their process is very quick and they usually have inventory. However, be aware that the L line, which is the major line serving 14th St. (and hipster Brooklyn), is going to shut down for an unknown period in 2019 (they say fifteen months, but it's the MTA, so...), which is going to throw 14th St. into chaos. So if you're planning on living in your new place for more than a year, that's something to keep in mind.
posted by praemunire at 1:23 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]

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