Perfect Strangers of New York City: Matchmaking Roommates
By Ilija Sekulovski
“It was less than ideal,” Sarah tells us, “There was a shooting two weeks after I moved in, and a stray bullet hit my window.”
So she was off to find another place to stay, and put down roots in Astoria. She made plans to move into a friend’s three bedroom apartment, but the two still needed the third bedroom filled. They posted the room online, and had hundreds of applications pour in.
“I realized I could match these people with each other,” Sarah tells us, “because maybe they didn’t fit with us, but there was someone else they could get a room with.”
So Perfect Strangers of NYC was created, and Sarah began her match-making.
“I have a background in Real Estate,” she tells us, “And I knew the process of finding an apartment or home. But I wanted to take it a step further – I wanted to make it more personal.”
Sarah started creating a questionnaire for all her prospective clients. It was personal, and it allowed her to really get to know them. Most of her clients, she would meet up with to get to know, and to find out who they really were.
“This is my approach: I only take on clients I would room with myself. If I wouldn’t, I don’t try to put them with anyone else.”
It’s an approach that’s worked out well for her – in just about four years, she’s managed to pair more than 300 roommates – 147 in Astoria alone, with a 100% success rate.
“There’s only ever been one case where one of the roommates chose not to renew her lease. There wasn’t even a falling out, she just didn’t renew.”
Other than that, Sarah has created amazing friendships throughout the years, and great living situations. One of her best success stories is a group of three girls, who she matched virtually three years ago, and who have been living together ever since.
“The whole process is about compatibility. The most important thing is finding out what both parties want from the arrangement. Do they want friendship, or just someone to share costs with? Some people have lived here for 10 or 15 years, and just want a roommate. Others are new, and want someone they can go out and have fun with. You just have to find the right match.”
Sarah also takes care of the more… intimate questions. Things like sexual orientation, bringing overnight guests, level of messiness and more, are all covered in her questionnaire. She asks questions that someone might be too shy or uncomfortable to ask from a stranger/prospective roommate, so you don’t have to.
The reason for her track record is lots of experience.
“Most people will find apartments once a year, or every two years. I’ve found 300. I know the red flags when you meet a roommate – and there definitely are red flags.”
She also has great relationships with local landlords, that will often give her the exclusive to rent out great apartments at low prices – something that average resident wouldn’t be able to find. As opposed to massive broker fees, she charges just a one month apartment fee. The roommate is basically free.
One of the apartments Sarah has helped fill
Sarah serves all five boroughs, and is quickly expanding. She just added a full-time agent serving solely upper Manhattan, including the Washington Heights area. She also has online video series coming out that shows the different neighborhoods, how to live there, and how to survive there.