Tight Market For NYC Rentals, Boom Market For Real Estate Scams: How Not To Get Played

Ordinarily, the Luxury Rentals Manhattan "Service Corner" tag is reserved for lighter, more service-oriented posts -- which Manhattan neighborhoods offer the best selection of Chinese food, for instance. But while that sort of thing is no doubt important to dumpling enthusiasts -- and LRM readers know that we're already on the record on that issue -- it's not nearly as important as, say, not getting scammed when searching for a Manhattan rental apartment. That sort of thing is rare, but not nearly as rare as it should be, which is why we at Luxury Rentals Manhattan have a renter's guide on our site, and why we so closely vett the agents to whom we refer those interested in our NYC rental listings. Working with people you trust, especially when it comes to real estate agents, takes a lot of uncertainty and unpleasantness out of the Manhattan apartment search process. And, as a recent article in the Wall Street Journal reveals, working with people you cannot trust can take a lot of money out of your pocket. And so the Service Corner tag is revived, in the service (ha) of a much more serious post. After the jump: how not to get played.

As we've noted in earlier posts, the market for Manhattan rental apartments has picked up considerably over the past few months, which means that more people are hunting for fewer Manhattan apartment listings -- which in turn has led, the Journal's Anthony Klan writes, to a marked uptick in real estate bad-acting."With Manhattan's rental-housing market tightening, the danger is growing of apartment hunters falling victim to scams, real-estate agents and white-collar crime experts warn," Klan writes. "Close to 5,500 rental-scam complaints were received nationwide by the start of October, Mr. Boone says. That puts 2010 on track to possibly eclipse last year's record 7,225 complaints."

Which is bad, but also not terribly difficult to understand -- desperate times, desperate measures, and all that. But what's heartening in Klan's article is something that most NYC apartment hunters -- and certainly those savvy enough to be searching Manhattan apartment listings on a site as legit (and well-written) as this one -- is that real estate scams have not evolved notably. If you don't wire money and insist on dealing with a local agent in a face-to-face interaction, you're almost certainly in the clear. Which makes this a good time to remind readers, again, that Luxury Rentals Manhattan vetts each agent carefully both for his or her expertise in Manhattan real estate and his or her ethics. So browse with confidence... and maybe don't believe everything you read on Craigslist, okay?