Craigslist's New York real estate listings are a particularly hideous wasteland. A new $10 fee for listings by brokers hasn't cut all the crap yet by any means, and wading through the illiterate broker misery is beyond dispiriting. But we can help! For some reason, Craigslist doesn't publicize that not only can you search for things, you can search against them.
So, using exclusionary terms, we can bust out some actually helpful real estate searches.
Such as! Somewhere, someone still wants to move to Williamsburg, a search result that returns that absolutely heapingest heap of cruddy results. Williamsburg -B26 -HOT! -JMZ -Bushwick -magnicent -SWEET -Jefferson -DeKalb -Myrtle -Halsey returns, largely, results free of exuberant brokerisms and apartments billed by their proximity to bus lines and the JMZ train and the more eastern of the near L train stops. It's still got a high crap quotient though. Still! Mmm, Bedfordlicious.
For our thrifty lesbian friends who need a garden in Greenpoint, greenpoint yard -!! -!!! -WOW -STUNNING -ENORMOUS -UNREAL returns non-crazy-broker results. Unfortunately, as of today, this leaves only one result. (This makes one begin to wonder: are there actually any decent apartments at all once you knock out the bait-and-switch and the over-hyped?)
Other specific Brooklyn neighborhoods are made a mockery of by Craigslist listers. Clinton -stuy -bedstuy -gym -hills should find you apartments actually in Clinton Hill, while eliminating brokers too stupid to not call it "Clinton Hills." (Also getting rid of the horrible "gym in building!" ads.)
For the Manhattan evacuee who dreams of outdoor space, the biggest frustrations come for searching for a yard of one's own. Anything counts as a yard on Craigslist—a view of a yard, a shitty patch of shared clay, a community courtyard. So yard -common -shared -access helps weed out some of the bullshit. As does garden -common -access -shared -lefferts -overlooking.
For Red Hook, the only important search is Fairway, obvs.
In Manhattan, we find that $9000 a month is the low-end cutoff to search for a decent penthouse. Hello bonus season!
For the newly-single cat-loving homosexual gentleman or the kicky public relations lady in your life, there's
cat-friendly 1 BR+ Chelsea under $2800 -LUX -BAD -Alcove—the "-BAD" keeps out those ads that insist that BAD CREDIT OKAY! Because that's always a lie. Bad credit is never okay. And a "sleeping alcove" is not a bedroom.
"Lower east side" -tribeca -gym -financial -brick -village will find, on a good day, an apartment pretty much actually in the Lower East Side, but not in one of those new hideous "GYM IN BUILDING" places, and without the charm of "exposed brick" which is almost never charming but instead the sign of a renovation with a work stoppage.
For the very poor or newly broken-up among us, the roommate section offers its own terrors—or something for everyone! After all, there's only one cat-loving vegan gay lawyer in search of a roommate. Also, "ethical" might be a good word to rule out in your searching, finding as it does this complete and utter trainwreck: $1300 3 br/2bath with two kickass gals! (Gramercy).
It's the season of planning summer getaways, so for the Kismeters and the Saltaire crews who like to telecommute, searching only fire island internet will do well enough. But there's only one search term that can help you avoid the hell on earth that is the Fire Island share house "run by John Blesso, author of 'SHAREHOUSE CONFIDENTIAL'", proud to have been featured in New York mag: -Blesso. Blecho.