No Fee Apartments NYC: a primer
How can you find a no fee apartment in NYC?
The best way to find a no fee apartment is to rent directly from the landlord or property management company. That means searching for an apartment on your own, without a broker. Alternatively, you can work with a no-fee broker. You’ll save some time searching and scheduling appointments by working with a broker, but your selection may also be somewhat limited as they still need to collect a fee and will only show you listings where the landlord/management company pays their fee. But not all landlords/management companies will offer to pay a cooperating broker a fee meaning that oftentimes an apartment that would be “no fee” if you rented it directly would have a fee if you used a broker.
For example, let's look at the three types of listings you’ll find in NYC…
1- Owner pays listings where the owner will pay the cooperating broker’s fee. These listings usually receive the best marketing and exposure as hundreds of brokers will market them to the public.
2- By owner listings which would not have a fee if you went to the owner directly. Cooperating brokers would be responsible for collecting their fee from you as the owner won’t cover it. These listings can be tougher to come by as fewer brokers will market them, and some owners refuse to pay for the same level of marketing as brokers do, preferring instead to fill vacancies through word of mouth or other methods. In cases like these using a broker who has experience working with the owner may be your best bet to secure the apartment, that is of course unless you already know another tenant in the building.
1- Fee listings where there will always be a broker fee. These are usually exclusive listings which are marketed by a single broker, but which receive lots of exposure.
What about pricing?
As you might expect no fee listings are usually more expensive on a monthly basis than fee listings (they can go for as much as 10% more than a comparable fee listing), with owner pays listings being the most expensive due to increased demand. That being said you’ll have significantly lower up-front costs to move into a no fee apartment, and unless you plan on staying long term (think 2-3+ years) they’ll usually end up being cheaper than a fee listing (where the lower pricing only starts to make up for the 1 month-15% broker fee after the first year).
As a rule, no fee listings present the best value for shorter 1-2 year terms while paying a fee is likely worth it if you plan on staying anywhere from 2-5 years. You’ll not only save approximately 10% a year in rent payments but whenever your lease comes up for renewal, you’ll typically see the rent remain flat or lower increases than in a no-fee building.
Once you know you’ll stay in a place for around 5+ years it usually makes more financial sense to buy than to rent.
Where can I find a no fee apartment in NYC?
There are plenty of sites where you can search for NYC apartments, but here are a few of the best for finding no fee apartments.
PropertyClub- You’ll find a combination of by owner no fee listings and owner pays no fee listings on PropertyClub and our listing verification means you won’t have to deal with fake, expired or duplicate listings. We also offer a rebate program where you can earn up to a $1,000 rebate on your next owner pays no fee apartment.
Facebook & Craigslist- While the search experience may not be the best you’ll often find properties that are unlisted elsewhere. If you’re searching craigslist we recommend filtering properties to only view “by owner” listings while the best Facebook listings are in groups like Gypsy (now Ghostlight) housing.
Streeteasy- Much like PropertyClub, streeteasy tries to prevent duplicate listings, making searching for no fee apartments easy. They have a great supply of no fee listings and for the time being they even you reach out directly to the listers on rentals (quite a significant change from the way they treat sales listings on their site where their modus operandi is to sell your personal info to a third party agent whenever possible).
Rental sites like Zumper and RentHop- These sites might seem great at first as they tout a vast number of listings- think 100,000+ NYC apartments, but a majority of the listings are unverified or duplicate. They also typically focus on broker listings meaning most of their no-fee listings are owner pays and their selection of by owner no fee listings is much smaller by comparison.
You can also try to go directly to the landlord and building sites, but that is time-consuming, and you’ll probably need to be already familiar with the landlord/management company. Some of the best-regarded landlords in NYC are Glenwood and Related.
When is the best time of year to find a no fee apartment in NYC?
That depends. The NYC real estate market tends to pick up in the late spring and summertime and cool off in the late fall and winter. That means that you'll find the most availability from May-July, but there will also be more competition. If you're okay with searching by yourself and trying to find no fee listings directly, this is a great time to search, but if you prefer the convenience of working with a broker, you'll have more options in the dead of winter. The reason for this is that as the market cools more and more landlords and property management companies will start to offer to pay broker fees on their listings turning what may be a by owner no fee listing in the summertime into an owner pays no fee listing in the wintertime. Prices also tend to be a bit lower in the winter. You can also check out this article on the best time to search for your next NYC apartment.
As you can see finding a no fee apartment in NYC isn't too hard as long as you're equipped with the right knowledge.