I have to second Aileen, a former colleague: its best to work with someone who know the area and goes to Open Houses all the time, as u seem to be living on the West Coast. But even if you were here: would u be able to judge if an apartment is great or only mediocre for the rent? Wouldnt you rather have good advice? Its a drag having to pay us a fee, but thats our livelihood. Thats what we work for and we only get paid if we rent something, not by our bosses every month. C'est la vie...There's nothing like a free lunch.. especially in New York.