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Your apartment hunt, according to real estate stock photos

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We're of the mind that there's a lot to be learned from stock images—women love laughing alone with salads, strainers don't actually look too bad when worn as hats—and the apartment search is no exception. From what to look for in a broker (hint: a goatee) to packing best practices, we've consulted the wide world of stock photos for helpful visual demonstrations of every step of the apartment search. Think of it as a teachable moment.

1. You want a house? If you build it (with books), it'll come. Visualization is key to achieving one's goals in life, right? Finding an apartment is no exception.

2. Find a broker you like! Everyone involved should dress to impress, including you. A jaunty scarf should do the trick.

3. Give your broker a little time to brainstorm...

4. ...and in the interim, break the news to your roommate/child/live-in partner that you'll be moving out.

5. Start packing! LOL no, not like that, silly.

6. Look at your options. Keep an open mind about small (cozy!) spaces.

7. You found a place you like, congratulations! Hand over first and last month's rent and a security deposit to lock the place down and remember: most landlords prefer all cash, signed with a ballpoint ben (and fountain ink) so they can guarantee that it came from you. Don't ask why, just one of those weird old quirks about renting in NYC.

8. The apartment is yours! Gently take the keys from your broker (no need to interrupt his or her quiet reverie) and back away slowly.

If you'd rather get advice from the experts, check out our guide to how to rent a NYC apartment.

Related:

How to rent a NYC apartment

The 8 best websites for finding a no-fee apt in New York City

Moving to NYC? Here's a crash course in finding an apartment

12 of the best NYC neighborhoods for recent college grads: 2014 edition

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