NYC real estate: Where to find deals on rentals

Now that summer is here, the rental market is heating up in New York City, but prices are cooling off. So we've got some advice for finding a great place during the busiest time of the year.

StreetEasy spokeswoman Lauren Riefflin says median rents have plateaued, but they're still expensive and she doesn't expect that to change anytime soon. New York City will always be a competitive and expensive market, but in both Brooklyn and Manhattan rents have flattened out. The median rent in Manhattan in May 2017 dropped to $3,200, which is 1.3 percent lower than it was in May 2016. In Brooklyn, the median rent is $2,800, down 1.8 percent year over year.

If those numbers are still a little rich for your budget, you have cheaper options. Lauren says thousands of studio and one-bedroom apartments are on StreetEasy for $2,000 per month or less throughout the five boroughs.

You'll find the greatest inventory of apartments under $2,000 in Harlem, Inwood, Washington Heights, the Upper East Side and Yorkville in Manhattan; in Crown Heights, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Prospect-Lefferts Gardens in Brooklyn; and in Astoria in Queens.

The summer is a hot time on the rental market, with more apartments available, but more renters looking, too. Riefflin says that creates a Catch-22, and means you may have to move faster to get an apartment during the busy summer months.

If you're not finding the right place for the right price, consider asking for rental concessions, which are more popular than ever. Lauren says landlords are being creative with the incentives they're offering their tenants and are lowering rents as a last resort. She says free Amazon Prime memberships, Netflix subscriptions, and gym memberships are popping up in a lot more listings on StreetEasy. Those rental concessions are most popular in new luxury apartment buildings in Brooklyn and the Financial District.

One last bit of advice when you're apartment hunting: Make sure you know whether you're looking at a co-op or a condo and get all of the necessary approvals. Plenty of renters who didn't realize they needed board approval, not just owner approval, to sublet in some co-ops ended up moving out before they even moved in.