6 Apartment Hunting Tips for NYC and Beyond

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Apartment hunting in NYC can be an emotive dance: simultaneously frustrating and exciting. Dealing with landlords, competing with other renters, and wending your way from one flat to the next can seem worth the chase for that special abode. Intensity hits stratospheric highs in the fiercely competitive cosmopolitan markets of cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

If you find yourself in such a setting, follow the apartment hunting tips for NYC and beyond that we've outlined below.

Set Your Priorities.

It's easy to get caught up in the whirlwind, so stay grounded. Know what you want in an apartment, a neighborhood, and a rental agreement. Research the neighborhoods that interest you to learn what constitutes a desirable apartment and what options are actually available. Organize all the data using this comprehensive checklist from Lifehacker.

Be Open to Chance.

Big, thriving cities have challenging rental markets mostly due to the large supply of landlords and renters. One tip for apartment hunting in NYC that we found at WikiHow suggests holding off your search until late in the month (around the 23rd for a move-in date the following month), which is when landlords become increasingly desperate. This advice runs counter to the conventional wisdom that posits hunting on or around the first of the month, at least a full four weeks before the desired move-in date. While the traditional strategy for apartment hunting in NYC may give you more flats to choose among, it's unlikely to leave you with much negotiating juice. Also, confine your search to weekdays to avoid direct competition with other qualified individuals.

Go into the Wild.

Business Insider recommends getting all the details before signing on the dotted line. Research the average cost of laundry and household staples in the area; turn on the shower to assess the water pressure; make sure the neighborhood is safe at night. (Tip for apartment hunting in NYC: Analyze crime rates posted on the local police department's website and do a ‘drive-by' of the area after dark). Talk to current residents about the area, which will let you gauge the overall vibe.

Time Your Search.

According to Rent Hop, the two best months to enter the apartment-hunting-in-NYC fray are April and November; June through August are out. Big cities like New York generally harbor a large contingent of college students and interns during the summer months, which doesn't augur well for bargain hunting.

Be Prepared.

Legitimate money-saving deals are often elusive and fleeting. That means you might need to pounce when you find "the one." Apartment hunting in NYC requires that you come to the showing with a print-out of your credit report, references, and a copy of your driver's license or passport. But don't act in haste. Make sure the prospective apartment is legal and meets the city's building and safety codes. Before you go, check this list of potential legal and financial pitfalls assembled by the New York City Buildings Department.

Try and Avoid Broker Fees

Brokers charge 15% of the first year's rent but websites like Apartable and Streeteasy offer search filters for no fee apartments and have listings for buildings owned by management companies who rent directly to renters.

Trust your intuition. Enough said.

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