tk17 wrote:Maybe we could start a conversation about brokers in NYC and I could talk about my positive experience in the face of near-universal condemnation.
Hahah I'd like to hear about your positive experience in the face of near-universal condemnation - sounds interesting
Also checking in!
Here is my two cents on brokers.
For those who are unfamiliar with the NYC rental scene, a large number of apartments are only available through rental real estate brokers. If you want one of these apartments, you can’t avoid dealing with the brokers and paying the fee.
Yes, the fee. The broker’s fee is the responsibility of the tenant and ranges from 8%-15% of the annual rent (roughly 1-2 months of rent) paid upfront (in addition to the deposit and first month’s rent) that you will never see again. It amounts to paying for the privilege to rent certain apartments. It’s painful. And often (e.g. for broker-fee apartments listed on craigslist), it feels like you’re paying them a ton of money for them to do nothing.
As such, one can understand why most people moving to (or within) New York do everything in their power to avoid going through brokers. Glance through last year’s admitted students thread (or do a google search) and you’ll find tons and tons of people who say that you should never ever under any circumstances use a broker.
I argue that it’s not always a bad idea, and in some cases it’s even a good one.
My wife and I used a broker to find my current apartment. We paid a broker fee of over $2,000. It sucked. But it was the right decision for us because
1) We were moving in from far away, and we weren’t going to be able to spend a ton of time in the city before we moved in. We didn’t know a ton about neighborhoods or how reasonable our criteria were. Finding an apartment without a broker involves combing through craigslist, racing to apartments that are taken within 24 hours of being posted, and dealing with scams and occasionally dishonest people. Using a broker allowed us to set up several appointments for the day we arrived in the city, and we ended up taking the first one we saw.
2) We have a large dog. This can be an obstacle when looking for apartments in NYC. Demand is so high that landlord can be picky about who they choose, and that often means that dogs, especially large dogs, aren’t allowed.
3) Avoiding broker-fee apartments means that you’re essentially limiting yourself to around 50% (wild guess based on vague memory of a statistic) of the already short inventory in NYC.
4) Broker-fee apartments sometimes have slightly lower rents than comparable non-broker fee apartments. We got a cozy 1 bedroom for $150 less than what our friends were paying for their studio roughly 6 blocks away. And then our landlord didn’t raise our rent last year while our friends got priced out and had to move. If you amortize the fee over a couple years, we easily saved money by paying the upfront expense. And if I end up going to school in NYC, we’ll stay put as long as the rent does, which could end up being a screaming deal.
5) We found a reliable broker. Yelp is your friend. Some brokers are awesome, some are awful, and some are in between. Find someone with excellent reviews, and at the very least you’ll know that they’re being honest for you.
Brokers definitely aren’t the right decision for everyone. And paying the upfront money is terrible. But they aren’t necessarily the devil that everyone else makes them out to be.