The Search

Defending the broker fee: 5 agents explain why they're worth it

By Lambeth Hochwald | August 3, 2017 - 8:59AM 

Renting in New York City is a tricky and pricey enough experience without adding the "broker fee" sticker shock. While theoretically you can get lucky and secure a no-fee rental, the bulk of available apartments have some sort of broker's fee attached and, as a renter, you're responsible for paying it.

Those fees usually range anywhere from 12 to 15 percent of a year’s rent, so for a Brooklyn apartment with a rent of $2,850, you're paying between $4,100 and $5,100 for a broker fee. (Note: In a slow market, you can try and negotiate those fees down a bit, or get the landlord to pay a larger chunk of it. In a hot market, you're likely out of luck.)

But do brokers deserve to be paid a fee at all? Five NYC agents explain why they should, indeed, be compensated by you, the renter:

You'll get an apartment that's been vetted

“My job isn’t just about opening a door, it’s about knowing what’s behind that door and who owns that door. Navigating my clients only through properties owned by reputable landlords and management companies helps them feel secure knowing they are moving into a well-managed building. A professional agent never wants that call from a crying tenant three months after they move asking, 'Why did you put me in this building, you should have known…’” —Natalya Disario, Corcoran

You'll save time

“In reality, almost every apartment is ‘no-fee’ if you can just track down the owner, sit them down and pitch yourself to them face to face. The question is: What is your time worth? Brokers spend practically every minute of every working day pounding the pavement and working the listings, finding out what’s out there and what’s good so you don't have to go door to door asking, ‘Do you have anything available that’s in my budget with every amenity I need?’"—Raphael Fetta, Bohemia Realty Group

You'll avoid the headaches of dealing with a management company

“Searching for an apartment can be stressful, time consuming and logistically challenging, so finding an agent who knows the specific areas desired, provides research around specific needs and one who takes the time to educate and guide one through the application process is valuable. All the headaches of dealing directly with landlords or management companies is spared when working with an agent. They handle the application process and quarterback the relationship to keep everything on track.”—Kipton Cronkite, Douglas Elliman

You may end up paying less rent

“The real value of using a broker comes in during the application and negotiating stage. It is my full time job to know the market in real-time to make sure you’re getting the right apartment at the right price. You want to make sure you’re submitting the strongest application possible while also knowing where there might be wiggle room on details like monthly rent, incentives or your move-in date. I love that my fee is directly tied to the success of my clients’ apartment search.”—Maggie Fanney, Triplemint

They have connections with the landlords 

“I pride myself on building relationships with my clients by guiding them through the entire apartment hunting process, from the basics of finding out exactly what they want and putting together a tour of apartments that matches their needs to leveraging my connections with various landlords to secure better deals and giving them insights on the hidden gems of their new neighborhood. I also keep in touch with my clients after they move in to make sure they’re happy and hold client appreciation events like group SoulCycle rides and happy hours to provide a safe and fun networking space.”—Adam Berke, Citi Habitats


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