There are many challenges related to finding an apartment in a city as crowded as New York City. Starting with knowing which are the best websites to search for an apartment in New York City.
You probably know already that many real estate companies only have a local, and not a national presence, which can make the start of your search more cumbersome, if you are moving to the city for the first time and don't know where to start searching.
But don't worry, we're here to help. In this article, we have compiled a list of the best websites for apartment hunting in NYC. Read on to find out more.
We reviewed five websites to look for an apartment in New York City. Here is what we found:
- Alex the Alpacabot (rentalpaca.com)
- Facebook housing groups
- StreetEasy (streeteasy.com)
- Renthop (renthop.com)
- Zumper (zumper.com)
Alpaca Technology, Inc. is an MIT startup based in NYC and Berlin, founded in 2018 by 4 international co-founders who had collectively moved across 8 countries, and rented over 37 apartments over the past 10 years, knowing very well the challenges faced while apartment hunting.
Its innovative solution consists of a virtual real-estate agent called Alex the Alpacabot. It is a virtual assistant, free of charge for renters, to help them find their desired apartment.
Alpaca is re-thinking the housing process, and solving the pain points from a different approach.
The traditional housing process for renters consists of digging into tons of websites looking for listings, contacting tons of agents, waiting for their responses, and ending up viewing other apartments you weren't interested in because the NYC housing market moves at the speed of light!
But with Alex the Alpacabot, the housing process is almost fully-automated and centralized. By simply starting a conversation for free with it through Facebook Messenger (yes, you don't have to download yet another app!), Alex will gather your search criteria, and does the hard work of searching listings on the internet. As a result, you'll get curated listings that match your search criteria, and Alex will help you connect with the landlord, real estate agent, or property manager of the listings of your interest, to schedule a viewing.
Talking to Alex is definitely one of the best ways to find an apartment in New York!
Unfortunately, Alex the Alpacabot is only available on Facebook Messenger. However, the team is planning to expand to alternative channels, such as SMS or Whatsapp.
Another drawback is that Alex the chatbot is currently available only for NYC and Boston (but it will be available soon in other US major cities).
If you would like to do your apartment hunting on social media or ask for recommendations and advice about neighborhoods, scam prevention, and any other housing topic, then you should join Alpaca’s housing community. It is the biggest global network of housing Facebook groups around the world, covering more than 200 cities.
The groups are meticulously combed for scammers and spammers on a daily basis, ensuring that the quality of listings and posts is high.
Additionally, the sense of community makes the difference between just using a listings app. In the Alpaca’s Facebook groups, users not only post listings or search posts but also useful information related to housing.
There is no feature to filter between listings or according to the renter’s search criteria (e.g. monthly rent, neighborhood, lease length, broker fee, etc.), making it difficult to find specific listings that match the renter’s preferences.
It is one of the most popular rental and sales listings aggregators in NYC, and it is part of the Zillow Group.
StreetEasy has a variety of good features to filter the listings by size, location, no-fee apartments, etc. Plus, it only accepts exclusive listings that are verified with the listing provider. This means that the users won't find duplicated listings posted by several real estate agents.
If an owner or a renter needs to list a property for rent in StreetEasy, it costs $185 for 2 weeks. Definitely, not cheap.
Also, as it is quite expensive for real estate agents to advertise all their listings there, then not all the inventory is available on this platform.
Renthop can be a good option to search for no-fee rentals, that are typically posted by the landlords, or by the current tenants that are looking for someone to take over the lease. This means that there is a high possibility to find more affordable properties there. Maybe not in terms of monthly rent, but the negotiation cost.
It has a cool feature to do a map-based search. Additionally, it verifies the identity and legitimacy of posters, and since the COVID-19 pandemic, it's easy to find shared-apartments and sublets there as well.
There are many duplicated listings, and it's not free of charge for renters who want to post a listing there.
Another point is that since RentHop monetizes by charing brokers per listing, then many of them just post a couple of listings, not aiming to rent out those specific properties, but to attract clients, and then show them other properties that are not shown in the website.
The last item on our list of best rental websites is Zumper which focuses only on rentals, and at least 40% of their inventory is no-fee apartments. The platform is very user-friendly, featuring good filters to make the research pretty straightforward.
The posters' verification is very good. Most of the listings are directly posted by owners, and property management companies and the rate of duplicated listings is low. Additionally, due to the social distancing imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Zumper now offers online tours, making it possible to have apartment viewings in a safer way.
Many listings don’t have the exact address, which adds another hassle for renters, having to first ask for the exact address to see if it’s located in one of their desired neighborhoods.
Another disadvantage is that apparently, the platform now filters out low-income renters, which just makes it harder to find an apartment for rent, not only for renters with Section 8 housing vouchers but also for potential tenants whose salary has been reduced, thanks to the world economic crisis this 2020, caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
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