The Search

A rental broker confesses—and yes, all your worst fears are confirmed

By Jennifer Laing  | November 11, 2014 - 3:59PM

As anyone who has ever apartment hunted in New York City knows, finding a rental in our fair city is no picnic—and made worse by the bad apples among the real estate brokers out there. Thrillist sought to find out if their rep for shady business practices  is deserved  by interviewing a licensed  rental broker. His answer: in a word, yes! Here, a sampling of his observations:

Agents: It costs just $400 and 75 hours of classes (that’s fewer than 10 eight-hour days!) to get a real estate license and since agents are paid solely on commission (no salaries) it’s pretty easy to get a job. All this to say, real estate is not the most discriminating field and within it lurk some pretty dishonest characters.

Brokerspeak: Agents try to make listings more attractive by including info apartment hunters want to see. Descriptions like “short walk to the subway” and “surrounded by bars, restaurants and shopping” should not be taken literally.

Landlords: Some are friendlier than others towards brokers. None wants to waste their time, especially if the building is small and showing an apartment is not likely to result in an immediate rental, which is why agents don’t always get to see an apartment before they show it to a client. The landlord won't open it up unless the tenant is present. 

Compensation: An average broker can make $60,000 to $80,000 a year renting apartments (assuming a 50/50 split of commissions with the firm, which is standard), but they can also go a month or more without making a penny, which can make even the most trustworthy broker resort to a few less honest tactics.

For the flipside, read "Do you really want to become a real estate agent?"


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