There are few things more emotionally destabilizing than apartment hunting in New York City, but these days, the internet can make the whole ordeal much less agonizing. That's why we're compiling and ranking newish (so no Craigslist or StreetEasy here) rental search platforms in the already clogged and crowded panoply. Some of these sites are great additions to your apartment-hunting arsenal, some not so much, but we've rated them all based on
a very scientific scale of efficiency, usefulness, and ease. The way we see it, finding an apartment in New York is like getting a colonoscopy: it's never going to be pleasant, but there are ways to make it far less excruciating. Happy hunting!
Urban Compass launched earlier this year and initially benefited from an $8 million seed-round and an impressive group of backers, such as Amex CEO Kenneth Chenault, Thrive Capital, and Goldman Sachs. Billing itself as a one-stop-shop for renting in New York, Urban Compass features a listings database, a schedule planner, surprisingly extensive neighborhood guides, and an online application process. The site itself is incredibly sleek, clean, and easy to use and while there are some fees, overall, renting through Urban Compass is much less expensive than going through a typical New York broker. The only point against it is the lack of depth in the listings database: at this time, only Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn and Queens are represented, and while some neighborhoods are bursting with listings, others are very spotty.
Launched in 2012, Zumper is probably best known around these parts for its awesome maps and data analysis, but its listings map is a solid resource for renters. Again, it's visual style and interface is similar to the older, bigger sites, but it's very slick, its data is organized extremely well, and quality control appears to be a major priority. Zumper also has an interesting profile system to make interacting with landlords and brokers (somewhat) less stressful. While it's hard to hold a candle to the selection StreetEasy offers, Zumper serves as a good runner-up, with a decent range of listings and more pictures than other outlets. It's also one of the few listings websites with a dedicated, easy-to-use app, which is meant for would-be renters, and another product aimed at brokers who want to post listings on the fly.
Despite joining the Clichéd Name Club, Lovely (and accompanying iOS app) is definitely worth looking into. It's not that different from Trulia, Zillow, or StreetEasy, but it is cleaner, faster, and easier than other rental search tools. Plus, it has a nifty little alert system and is almost constantly being updated with new listings. Basic and simple, but indispensable for any apartment hunter.
The newly released app MoveMent seems primarily concerned with debunking "the truth" as dictated by brokers. The main selling point here is that MoveMent "verifies" certain listings, ensuring that apartment photos and details are up-to-date and accurate through geotagging. It's a good idea that seems to work (though let's be real: the brokers have lots of other ways to screw you) and while there isn't a huge number of listings yet, MoveMent definitely has the potential to grow.
Leasebreak deals with that most controversial of topics in real estate these days: short-term rental. However, unlike airbnb, Leasebreak doesn't confuse flouting New York's hotel laws with a viable business model, instead working with landlords and renters. Basically, tenants who want to break their lease (it's clever, get it?) connect with apartment hunters looking to rent short-term, since most landlords allow tenants to back out of their contracts if they have a successive renter lined up. However, Leasebreak is confusing, clunky, and difficult to navigate, and while it might be ideal for people unwilling to commit to long leases, such as students, it seems unlikely that the average renter would find it useful.
Your Neighborhood is essentially a breakdown of various neighborhoods in New York and it does exactly what it says. There's nothing here that can't be gleaned from Wikipedia or even Urban Compass' superior neighborhood guides, but we suppose it's nice to have average prices and transportation, education, and crime stats available at a glance. The only people who would find this useful are people moving to New York who have no idea what the they're doing or where to start.
Trying to find a roommate in New York occasionally means taking your life into your own hands, which is why Apartment List's Roommates app makes a whole lot of sense. By integrating with your Facebook, the app allows you to create a profile of your budget, neighborhood preferences, and "interests" ("Oh, you like 'day drinking' too? When can you move in?!") and then attempts to match you up with "similar" people, like Tinder but without sex with strangers. We suppose this method is ostensibly safer than dialing a number you found on a bathroom door but who knows? Honestly, it doesn't work well and the app seems to have fun paring you with the most hilariously mismatched roommate possible. Recommended only for the friendless/truly desperate.
· A Guide to New York City's Major Rental-Finding Websites [Curbed]
· Renters Week 2013 [Curbed]