When Should You Use A Broker to Find An Apartment

That’s a bit of a conundrum, as there’s always the hope for luck.  Maybe you’ll hit the jackpot and get a great pad sans broker.  But, maybe you’ll get totally screwed and end up in a last-minute find caus you waited too long.
So, how risk adverse are you? And, how willing are you to pay up to 12% of your yearly rent to some random dude?
Welcome to Step 4 in our series of how to get a sweet, new apartment!
Let me back-track some. If you don’t live in New York City, you probably don’t need a broker. Other cities tend to have better access to housing, and so few renters are willing to pay broker’s premiums. Classic rule of supply and demand.  Chicago has as group called the Apartment People that will drive you to apartments — and the owner pays the entire fee!
However, even though the housing market is getting better in NYC, many landlords prefer dealing with reputable brokers. Why? Because a broker will advertise the apartment, screen candidates for the landlord and show the apartment — which is time consuming work that the landlord doesn’t have to pay for. YOU do.
That said, here are some reasons you should consider using a broker:
1) You are in a time fix. You need to see a ton of decent apartment fast. Find a good broker and he/she will take you to see as many as 10 apartments at a time, depending on inventory.
2) You are moving here from out of town. You want to initiate the process early and plan it around your schedule.
3) You want the best apartment on the market and consider the fee an investment. Many broker apartments have cheaper monthly rent because they’ve been negotiated down (yay broker!) to offset the broker fee (boo broker!). Seriously though, if you plan on living somewhere for a few years. . . it’s quite a good deal.
4) You’re like most people in New York. Gulp, I said it. But. . . it’s true. I was shocked at the kind of apartments I was seeing without a broker’s help. Totally bottom of the barrel.
5) You don’t want to be scammed. Brokers have reputations to uphold — they’ll get you a fair shake lest they risk losing their livelihood.
While it may seem like a rip-off to use a broker, you should strongly consider it if you plan to live in New York. Don’t believe me? You could be lucky — start apartment hunting 5 weeks before your drop dead move out date and see if you can manage on your own. If not. . .consider a broker.
Anyone got any broker recs? I used Destination Reality in Carroll Gardens Brooklyn and felt pretty good about the places I saw!
Author My First Apartment
Alissa

Posted by

I've lived in apartments in 6 cities (including 2 foreign countries). Does that make me an expert? As of now, my ceiling isn't leaking and I don't have rodents (knock on wood) -- so I'm going to say yes . . . but ask me again tomorrow:) These days, I'm enjoying life Chicago style, but my years in Brooklyn are never far from my mind. P.S. By day I work at GolinHarris, but these opinions are totally, 100% my own.

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