Apartment Searching: Philly vs New York

A quick study in contrasts.

Here’s how apartment searching works in Philly:

You find ten apartments on Craigslist that suit your needs. Five of them are fake, and someone asks you to send money via Western Union. You ignore these. The other five you go visit. You pick your favorite, put down a deposit, and you have an apartment. Huzzah!

Here’s how apartment searching works in NYC:

  1. You spend hours perusing listings on the web, finding apartments that meet your needs. On each of these listings is contact information for a broker who reps that property.
  2. You contact the broker about that apartment, at which point the broker says “oh, that apartment was just rented.” This means “that apartment is fake. I use it to get you in the door.” Because you’re already in touch, you walk the broker through everything you are looking for: price range, size, location, amenities, etc.
  3. The broker ignores everything you have just said, looks through his or her records, and sends you to see a few properties that in no way resemble the description you supplied. Likely these are the same apartments they have been trying to move for several weeks by sending every single person to see them. Several of them are broom closets, one is a rooftop with a vinyl tarp and an army cot, and one is literally an old-timey wooden outhouse in an alley behind the United Nations.
  4. For this “service,” should you happen to trip over an apartment that IS right for you (or if the broker manages to get one right, almost certainly by accident alone), you get to pay the broker 15% of a full year’s rent, though most suggest this is negotiable down to 8.4%.

Huzzah.

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