Realty Bites

My agent found me a NYC apartment where the landlord has a broker. Do I owe two fees?

By Austin Havens-Bowen | August 10, 2021 - 12:30PM 

If you and the landlord both have brokers, the fee is usually split.

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Question:

I hired an agent to help me find a rental apartment. How do the fees work if I put in an application for an apartment where the landlord is also represented by a broker? Do I owe two full fees?

Answer:

It happens fairly frequently, especially if you’re new to New York City: You hire an agent to help you find a place, and they show you an apartment where the landlord has their own broker. The good news is that you don’t pay two fees—one for each broker. Whew! Instead, you pay the equivalent of one fee that is split between the two brokers.

The not-so-good news is that the fee you pay is still pretty hefty—ranging from 12 to 15 percent of your annual rent. (This fee also applies even if you didn’t hire a broker and found an apartment by yourself—but the landlord of the apartment you found has a broker. Even if all that broker did was open the door for you and give you some paperwork— you may end up owing him or her a broker fee.)


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In the scenario that you describe, the agent you hired is the one you work with. Similar to co-broking a sale, you submit your application and documents to your agent, and they will turn them over for approval to the landlord and their broker, says Alexandra Friedman, a broker at Compass. 

Sometimes a landlord will pay their broker’s fee—like when the rental market is slow and there are lots of vacant apartments. If you are also working with an agent and the landlord is paying their own broker, then you may just owe half the fee, Friedman says, so if the broker fee was 15 percent of your annual rent, you would pay your broker 7.5 percent. 

Right now there is lots of competition for apartments as New Yorkers return to the city, and landlords are offering fewer freebies, like paid broker fees.

If the fees are being split between brokers, it’s your responsibility to give separate checks to each broker, says Victoria Vinokur, a broker at Brown Harris Stevens. 

A reminder for that if you find a no-fee apartment, where the landlord pays the broker fee, it only applies to the landlord’s broker, Vinokur says. Your agent’s fee is to compensate them for representing your interests and helping you navigate the market and application process, she says. 

In those situations, Vinokur says she asks her clients to pay the difference between one month’s rent and the rate she agreed to. But every broker handles this differently.

 

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