Pros and Cons of Using a Broker to Find an Apartment

Pros and Cons of Using a Broker to Find an Apartment

Published: 14 Oct, 2019

Last Updated: 30 Jan, 2023

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Cool Admin #1

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Wondering what the pros and cons of using a broker to find an apartment in New York City are?

We know, in a fast-paced real estate market like NYC, enlisting all the help you can get when searching for your ideal apartment cannot be overemphasized. This is especially so if you find yourself in a situation where you need to find an apartment pronto.

The same goes for anyone moving to New York for the first time – a professional who has a handle on the locale you are planning to put down roots in can really come in handy. Ditto for New Yorkers looking to shift to an unfamiliar area and need assistance finding communities they might enjoy living in.

Regardless of your situation, enlisting the services of a broker or agent has its advantages and disadvantages.

In this article, we dissect the pros and cons of using a broker to find an apartment in New York.


1. Pros of Using A Broker

1a. Convenience

This is one of the main reasons a lot of people enlist the services of an agent or broker. A broker will save you time and the headache of not having to do the legwork yourself. If you are pressed for time, are nowhere near your choice of apartment location or simply don’t know where to search, a good apartment broker can be a really useful asset in your quest.

1b. They Will Find the Ideal Apartment For You

There is a huge difference between an apartment hunter who dedicates a few days a week for their apartment search and a local, experienced broker who does it for a living. Unlike the former, an experienced agent is not limited by time or expertise. Plus, chances are he/she has pre-existing arrangements with landlords and property management companies. This puts them in better stead to find an apartment and negotiate better terms, not to mention spot any potential scams.

1c. They Know the City and Neighborhoods

The job of a broker entails having their finger on the pulse of the market at all times. A broker worth their salt will not only know where to look but also will be well versed with the apartment trends in the locale you are considering as these can drastically change from one street to the next. Agents are well accustomed to exploring neighborhoods and very much cognizant of factors such as schools, safety, cost of living, entertainment and social amenities, etc.

Not every single vacant apartment in New York (or any other market for that matter) is usually listed. This means your DIY online search, no matter how thorough, won’t always return every available vacancy. But having an experienced agent who has their ear on the ground on your side could open up some good opportunities you otherwise could not have stumbled upon.


2. Cons of Using A Broker

2a. They Cost More

Finding an apartment through a broker will cost you more than going it DIY. In New York City, brokers take home a commission of approximately 15% of the total annual rent. This fee usually gets passed on to the renter in some way. You could be asked to pay the fee upfront prior to signing the lease (in addition to a security deposit and a month’s (or two) rent) or it could be in factored in the monthly rent. Whichever the case, you will ultimately end up paying more through a broker than if you went it alone.

If you are not happy with paying broker fees, you always can find an apartment without paying broker fees.


2b. They Might Have Too Many Clients

Considering this is one of their chief job descriptions, it is not uncommon for one broker to have a long list of clients searching for similar apartments simultaneously. While a good broker will know how much they can realistically bite, you might end up working with one who sees their success as a numbers game. The downside to this is that the broker could present the same apartment to multiple clients and end up offering it to whoever makes the decision fastest as opposed to who it is most suited for.


2c. You Could Be Misled

You might find yourself the victim of an underhand tactic known as “bait and switch”. This is when a broker advertises a “no-fee” apartment to woo in potential clients, only to later reverse the “no-fee” provision and blame it on the landlord. These scenarios are not unusual.


Armed with these pros and cons of using a broker to find an apartment in New York, now you know if and when a broker would suit you, as well as a few potential pitfalls to avoid.

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