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'Speed-roommate' events pair New Yorkers looking for a home

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speed Photo Credit: Carla DeLeon chats with Nicky Posley at a speed-roommating event in midtown. (Linda Rosier/Newsday)

How quickly are you willing to move in with someone? More than a few New Yorkers are considering making that commitment at first sight.

While renters often scan the classifieds to find a place to call home, New Yorkers searching for that compatible cohabitant are using another service that puts a spin on speed-dating.

Organizers call it "speed-roommating," and it's been attracting a growing following since its Manhattan debut last month.

"I'm nervous," admitted Corina Deleon, 35, a newbie at a speed-roommating event at the Gossip bar in midtown last week.

Deleon was looking for someone to share her two-bedroom apartment in the Bronx near the New York Botanical Garden. Her asking price: $700 a month.

And her requirement for a potential roomie: "Down to earth," she said before mingling with about 45 others.

The free event, hosted by SpareRoom.com, is more like a mixer than a true speed-dating experience. Regardless, attendees wear nametags advertising whether they have a room or need a room and the rents they're asking for or are willing to pay.

Sahara Weber, a marketing consultant, didn't have exact prices for the two rooms she was looking to rent out in her Hamilton Heights home. For her, clicking with others seemed more important than how much they could afford.

"They should have a personality that's open," Weber said. "You're talking about opening up your home to people you don't know."

For room seekers at such an event, it's all about making the right first impression -- especially since those looking for a room typically outnumber those with housing.

"This gives you a window into someone better than on Craigslist," said makeup artist Nicky Posley, 39, as he cheerfully chatted up people with rooms.

SpareRoom.com's speed-roommating concept started in London in 2004, and now seemed like the right time to move it across the pond, said director Matt Hutchinson.

"New York ... faces many of the same problems as London when it comes to finding accommodation: It's busy, expensive and has a steady stream of new people arriving and needing a place to live," said Hutchinson, adding that it's hard for the company to keep track of exactly how many matches are made through its events.

At the recent mixer in midtown, most people exchanged numbers and planned to meet. They included Deleon, of the Bronx, who was holding out for that special someone.

"I'm open," she said, "but I don't want to settle."

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The next SpeedRoommating New York event will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. March 6 at the Gossip Bar, 773 Ninth Ave. in midtown.

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