College? check. Job? check. Apartment?…

By Middlebury Campus

Author: SEAN BREEN ’06

Finding and renting an apartment sucks. As a soon-to-be graduated Middlebury senior I have faced this problem head on. First, from abroad, where after a successful but exhausting internship search I found myself shifting through hundreds of listings on craigslist, placing expensive overseas calls to brokers and landlords, who more often than not had already rented or desisted the apartment I was interested in. I lost out on apartments because I did not have the correct paperwork together, or because I could not come by to see the apartment and speak with the owners. I was lost and intimidated and I have no bargaining power or knowledge of the market to spot rip-offs and talk down greedy landlords. Luckily, my persistence paid off and I eventually found a sublet on the Upper-West side of New York. It was expensive, however, costing me and my roommate $2,800 a month plus utilities, cable and telephone payments.

My second apartment hunt has only just ended. Among finding a job, applying for scholarships, going to class and finishing my thesis, I had the added burden of finding a broker and going to see apartments in New York. I spent the entirety of spring break meeting with five different brokers, trekking across Manhattan, from the Upper East to the West Village. Most of what I saw was crap-expensive crap, but crap all the same. I found myself thinking-Why should I pay a broker if he doesn’t add value? How are these brokers adding value for me?

Luckily, I found a respectable agency and an apartment that I liked. Still, this was just the beginning. I soon began a round of negotiations with both my broker and my landlord-we discussed the move-in date, the rent, the application process, etc. Fortunately, as I had spent so much time with other brokers looking at other apartments, I had a pretty accurate idea of the market and was able to negotiate a fair price. I even talked my broker’s fee down to 13.5 percent of the first year’s rent. This process, however, took considerable planning, time, commitment and attention. The real estate business is a dirty business and students entering the market are easy prey for selfish brokers and landlords. Unless you are prepared for the equivalent of a fifth class, you might want to consider an alternative to the usual apartment hunting process-an alternative started by a fellow Middlebury student.

Studentsrent.com was launched by your fellow college students with the goal of serving graduating or interning students in search of apartments of sublets in New York City. It is probably one of the quickest and most stress free ways of finding an apartment in New York City. Unlike other services, Studentrent.com carries an element of assurance. The ethics that form the foundation of a Middlebury education are instilled in the institutions that rise out of its graduates. These are fellow students that understand the real estate market in New York from hands-on experience. They are not here to rip you off. They are here to bring you to the market safely and hassle-free.

The first step is filling out the form online. Within 72 hours Studentsrent.com will have a reliable agent contact you about your apartment choices. The agent will then guide you through the renting process, helping you assemble the documents necessary to make your apartment search as short as possible whether you are looking for somewhere to live for the next year or two, or for a summer sublet close to your internship. What is more, Studentsrent.com also offers you a fee that is much lower than a typical broker. Every broker in New York charges 15 percent of one year’s rent. Students Rent charges a fee of only 10 percent. For a $2,000 apartment, this discount would save you a notable $1,200.

Moreover, unlike the situation I found myself in only months ago, when I was frustrated by the lack of “value added” by my expensive brokers, StudentsRent is here to help you. Instead of a broker pushing unwanted real estate on you, StudentsRent will listen to what your needs are and work to help you find what you are looking for. You will never be pressured into an apartment or sublease. Nor does StudentsRent stop after the apartment is found. Agents for StudentsRent will assist you through every step of the negotiation process. As a token of their ability, just consider how the founders of this new business were able to secure a fee of only 10 percent-33 percent below the market rate!

Do yourself the favor. Don’t spend the last weeks of school stressing out over finding shelter in New York. Spend it partying with your friends and creating memories to take with you for the rest of your life. Renting in New York City should not be this difficult, and Middlebury College students now have an alternative. StudentsRent.com is run by Middlebury students for Middlebury students, so let’s do ourselves a favor and help our community while we help ourselves.