Would You Rather?

Would You Rather: Pay a broker's fee or higher rent?

By Mayra David | June 6, 2014 - 11:59AM 

Broker Deal or No Deal? In a renter-heavy city like NYC, paying a broker to find you a decent place is just a way of life—for some, that is. We asked five New Yorkers: Would you rather pay a broker’s fee when you sign the lease or the same amount in higher rent over the course of 12 months?

  • Pay it forward  I like working with brokers. I just don’t have the time to be on the Internet all day and making calls. I don’t mind paying a fee for quality work, which to me means promptly returning calls and emails, constant updates and finding options that really fit my wish list. I don’t like brokers who try to up-sell right away, without putting in the effort to find places that suit my criteria. Maybe after we’ve been looking for a while without finding anything--then you can educate me and show me places beyond the budget I’ve given you. I always give a lower budget anyway. - Eugene, Harlem
  • Never have I ever  I’ve never in my life paid a broker fee--and I intend never ever to pay one. I just don’t see the point of paying a middle man to do something I can do myself. If I have to pay a bit more per month for an apartment I love, then that’s just the price of that apartment. - Jen, Astoria
  • You get what you pay for In my experience, it depends on the market you are looking in. If you are looking for a roommate situation or something on the very low end of things, you could be better off looking on Craigslist. I know people find great deals there, but sometimes there’s a trade-off, like neglectful, lazy landlords or appliances that are not in great shape.  But if you’re looking for a family, you’re better off searching for it with a professional who has to work for their commission. Brokers only get paid if you actually sign a lease on an apartment. They want to make a deal, and they want to make it fast. A quality broker will find you a quality rental and it’ll be well worth the money.  - Lisa, Tribeca
  • Deal broker  I’ve paid a broker fee, and for the service and security of finding a decent rental that is above board--i.e. no sketchy no-fee Craigslist apartments--I’m happy to pay it. I find that apartment searches are stressful and time consuming. If I pay that fee once, it hurts me less financially, I feel, than shelling out more each month for an apartment where an agent can actually negotiate a better price!  - Louis, Upper West Side
  • Beginner's luck  I’ve had really good experiences with brokers. There are horror stories our there, I know, about slimy brokers who charge an arm and a leg for sitting at a computer for a couple of hours and who then just send their clients out to look at places alone. But the broker I last used, and referred to my friend, really listened to what I was looking for and found it for me. I’m new to the city, and I really didn’t feel comfortable going out on my own. I needed some expertise on my side and I feel like I got it! - Fiona, Midtown East

Results:  Broker Deal - 4 , Pay? No way! - 1

Winner: Brokers!

See all Would You Rather

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