Believe it or not, many New York University School of Law Law students have told us that they found the apartment of their dreams through the newspaper. This activity is not for the faint-hearted, however, as there can be a lot of leg-work and disappointment involved. But, if you have energy, if your financial paperwork is in order, and if you are ready to put money down when you see an apartment you like, this is a great way to go, and perhaps avoid a broker’s fee, too. Please review the glossary of real estate ad terms so that you will be familiar with the language abbreviations when you look at the ads themselves. Learn to read the ads; for example, if an apartment is described as "cozy" it's probably too small and if there is no mention of light or view there probably is none.
The two main sources for Manhattan apartment listings are the New York Times and the Village Voice. Also, we keep a few sample local newspapers for Brooklyn and Hoboken for reference. Be sure to check listings for apartment leases, sublets, and shares. Sometimes a long-term sublet is a good option, especially if you want something that is furnished. And, with shares and sublets you will frequently deal directly with the prime tenant, not a broker, thereby avoiding a broker’s fee. Hints about how to "get a jump" on the Times and Voice listings are provided below.
The New York Times
The Times has real estate listings daily, both online and in the paper, but the largest selection comes out in the Sunday Real Estate section each week. To get a head start on the Sunday listings, you may buy a partial Sunday paper; certain sections including Real Estate are available at major newsstands around the city on the previous Friday evening, usually after 7:00 p.m. Ask your local newsstand proprietor what time s/he gets the Friday shipment. This will enable you to start calling or looking on Friday night, or to make appointments for Saturday morning.
The Village Voice
The Voice is a weekly paper that has a large number of apartment listings both in the paper and online. It comes off the press around 7:00 p.m. on Tuesdays and is dropped off first at the Astor Place newsstand, at Astor Place (8 Street) and Lafayette Street. You can’t miss it. There is usually a crowd of apartment-seekers gathered. Bring a roll of quarters and post a friend near a pay phone if you want to get a jump on dialing the best listings as soon as the paper arrives. The Village Voice online listings are updated on Tuesdays at 1:00 p.m.
There are also community papers for different neighborhoods around the city; these are frequently available in neighborhood shops and restaurants. The following newspapers offer listings in the New York city area:
Listings primarily for Queens and Long Island
The Bergen Record
The Daily News
Listings for all boroughs