If you’re shopping for an apartment in New York City, chances are you’ll have to shop first for a real estate agent.
"Why?" you ask. Apartment availability is perennially tight in the metropolitan area. So unless you go directly through a no-fee management firm that you know offers high-quality apartments in the neighborhood you want to live in, you’ll probably need the services of a well-connected professional to find what you want.
If you do not lease a no-fee apartment, brokers in the city can charge you fees up to 15 percent of your first year’s lease, payable upfront, to find you the apartment of your dreams. In exchange, you should expect honest service and a dogged search.
Here are some tips for making the right choice:
If at all possible, get referrals from friends, relatives or co-workers before you shop for an agent. If they have had good experiences, you likely will too. If you are completely new to the city, ask any agents you contact to provide you with contact information for happy clients who will share their experiences with you.
Choosing an apartment is a very personal decision, so it’s important to find an agent who will truly listen to your desires and ask focused questions to determine exactly what you want before they drag you through the city to examine their finds.
Do you have pets today or want them in the future? Do you want a doorman? How about a washer and dryer in your apartment? How do you feel about shoveling snow or maintaining landscaping? You’re paying an agent to save you time in your search, so make sure they gather enough information to quickly find what you want.
Once you have described some of your wants and desires, a prospective agent should be able to tell you immediately what sort of availability you might expect in any neighborhood you are interested in. They should also be able to give you the pluses or minuses of any major neighborhood in areas of the city that you want to consider.
Don’t be afraid to ask about schools, parks, pet friendliness, safety or whatever interests you to make sure your agent has the knowledge you need. Your agent might be prevented, for regulatory reasons, from giving you detailed answers about some issues, but they can at least hear your concerns through your questions.
Make sure your agent will include no-fee facilities in their mix of considerations. Dixon offers no-fee leasing as a standard service to its clients, so your agent won’t suffer financially by including its listings in your mix. And whether you contact directly or through an agent, it’s good to keep in mind that all of Dixon’s listings in many of the city’s most popular neighborhoods are pet-friendly with a range of luxury services, including free sidewalk and landscaping maintenance and a concierge service to help you handle utility and maintenance appointments without taking time from your busy schedule.