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These are the crazy tactics renters are using to find a NYC apartment in a wild market

Jordan Hart   

These are the crazy tactics renters are using to find a NYC apartment in a wild market
  • The median rent in Manhattan has gone up 25% increase since 2021.
  • One expert encourages renters to "cast a wide net" on their search for housing.

When Karissa Franklin moved to New York City to pursue a career in fashion, she didn't expect rents to skyrocket post pandemic — and she had to get creative to find a home.

After living with a friend for six months, Franklin braved the competitive rental market in June. Although she used apps like StreetEasy and Zillow, the application process proved more difficult than the Texas market she was used to and she was forced to find new tools.

After about a month of hunting, she says she's close to finding a place.

"I was referred to a Facebook group, but it's still been hard," Franklin said. "You're competing against all of these other young women looking for that perfect apartment."

In the age of evolving social media and online networking, new strategies have emerged to help anyone trying to land an apartment in New York City save time and money.

New York is one of the priciest places to call home. Despite being the most populated city in the U.S., affordable housing is generally not easy to come by. In May, the New York median rent reached a record high of $4,000, the New York Times reported, a 25% increase from the previous year; the rent average is just under $5,000 in Manhattan and $3,250 in Brooklyn.

In 2016, real estate agent Frank Karlya created a group on Facebook for friends to find roommates and housing in New York. What started off as a quick way to help his community, steadily grew over the years into a network of nearly 300,000 people across four Facebook groups — including one specifically for women looking for other female roommates.

Karlya with the help of fellow agent, Rachel Dunn, now moderates hundreds of posts daily, searching for roommates, sublets and apartments.

Karlya's best advice: "Cast a wide net." Checking a single app every day does not yield the best results.

"You shouldn't only look at the most popular websites," said Karlya, who also encourages finding places in person. "You really should explore all your options to find a place even if it's unconventional like Craigslist or Facebook."

Dunn – who started in real estate by matching roommates – assists those who can't visit and tour apartments on short notice. "I know how hard it is to move from out of state. I tell people all the time to run it by me for free if a listing feels strange."

Listings Project is a newer online tool for renters. Since 2003, it has offered weekly "inclusive and personal" real estate and job listings in 43 states, according to its site. Home listings include a detailed description from the owner or person living there, so applicants can discuss and negotiate directly.

For those who already have options, Openigloo is an online service founded in 2020 by two Columbia University alumni that features anonymous reviews from previous tenants, and landlord violation listings.

"We tried to design it in a way that the feedback and the comments are constructive and useful for both landlords and future tenants," co-founder Allia Mohamed told New York Post.

TikTok also has become a common spot for venting - and sometimes useful information. Posts on the video-sharing platform include photos of long lines just to tour an available New York apartment and chatter about rent hikes.

Artist Maggie Antalek shared a video tour of her Lower East Side apartment to her account, and it became an ad for anyone interested in renting it - as-is.

She had painted several wall murals, and instead of spending the time and money to cover them, Antalek wanted to find someone to rent it with her artwork. On TikTok, she also explained that she could no longer afford the unit after the rent rose nearly $1,200 to $3,200.

Her video garnered over 2 million views and thousands of comments.

Antalek even sought a broker's fee after posting, and answering emailed questions from potential applicants.

"I'm hoping that at least I can move out and feel like they're valuing the work I've done to their apartment to improve it, and bring in a bunch of tenants and raise the value of the rent," Antalek told Insider.


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