If you live in New York City you probably have at least one apartment renting horror story. You probably even have that million-dollar idea to solve the nightmare -- but as of today it only exists as a napkin drawing and you still need to find a place. Read on for five ways to lower the anxiety level for your next apartment hunt in 2010. (I'd say they might even eliminate your tension altogether but hey, you are a New Yorker -- even if you do practice Qigong).
Craigslist. Kidding. OK, here we go:
Naked Apartments (www.nakedapartments.com). Naked Apartments is part Match.com, part Yelp and focuses on the NYC apartment market. Naked Apartments uses renter profiles and apartment preferences to match renters with listings that fit them best. Once you build a profile, Naked Apartments does the work by sending you the right listings. In addition to choosing a listing based on the apartment specs, you can evaluate it based on reviews of the broker showing the apartment, offers for no broker fees, or free months rent. Finally, its comprehensive listings database includes nearly 10,000 listings and over 4,000 no fee apartments. Full disclosure, I'm a frustrated renter and one of the founders of Naked Apartments so, not so shockingly, I'm a big fan of this option.
Insurent (www.insurent.com). Some New Yorkers make lots of money and have the privilege of choosing between apartments. Other folks have wealthy parents who act as a guarantor to lock in the digs of their dreams. For the rest of us, there's Insurent. If you're responsible and haven't destroyed your credit, Insurent will act as your guarantor. So, although you might not make enough annually to qualify for an apartment, they'll guarantee you as long as you can cover the monthly rent. Earn like a common man; live like a king.
Twitter. I know, you "hate" Twitter along with everyone else. But you've got an account, just like the rest of the world, so use it. One way of finding a place is tweeting about exactly what you're looking for. This doesn't mean, "Help!!! I'm looking for an apartment!" It means "Want a 1br in Chelsea 01/03/10." Believe it or not, landlords and brokers will send you listings. If a broker turns to stalker, you can always block them.
NabeWise (www.nabewise.com) + Pounding the Pavement. Nabewise has neighborhood ratings and helps you figure out the perfect neighborhood based on user-generated content. Once you've narrowed down your ideal living locations, its time for the antiquated method of pounding the pavement. When you find buildings of interest, write down the address. When you get home, Google the addresses and start calling the owners. This is a useful technique because one owner usually owns multiple buildings in a single neighborhood.
CityMove (www.citymove.com). Good movers are tough to find especially in the City where anyone with a car calls themselves a "professional mover." At City Move, you pop in your move specifications and, bam!, movers are applying to work with you. Movers compete with their prices and user reviews so you can choose the best one -- or the lowest rate and then write a crap review for being so cheap. I'd recommend you phrase your review a bit differently though.
That's it for now. You'll only hear from me again when I have something of worth to say. For more tips check us out on Twitter (@nakedapartments) or visit http://www.nakedapartments.com/blog for up-to-date info.
Shankar Desai is the CEO & Co-Founder of Naked Apartments, Inc.