GUEST POST: Is a broker right for you?

8 Mar

By Lindsey Wojcik

Searching for an apartment in New York City is like a jungle hunt. In my first experience, I felt like a young lion cub. I prepared for my hunt by making appointments with recommended brokers, with the paperwork to go in for the kill. During my initial hunt, I often felt another species I didn’t fully understand was preying on me: the elusive New York real estate agent or broker.

When I moved to New York in October 2009, I didn’t know anyone. I’ve experienced the hunt and moved three times in my first 13 months in New York. In that time, I learned that  finding a place often becomes a second job and that brokers (for the most part) are here to help. Here’s the lowdown Sarah’s friend Katie gave me before I moved here:

  • Timing is key. Most landlords don’t know if their tenants will be leaving until a month before the lease is up. Once landlords or management companies are notified, they alert brokers throughout the city who then post their listing in their database. It can take awhile to secure a place, especially if you have to discuss finances, involve a guarantor, etc. but a week should be fine.
  • Brokers are going to need paperwork, which can include:
    – Bank statements
    –  The last few pay stubs
    –  Social security card/birth certificate/passport
    – Brokers are very particular and often require:
    –  Tenants to make 40 times the rent
    – Guarantor to make 80 times the rent
    –  A broker’s fee

She also suggested CitiHabitats, Manhattan Apartments, Ardor NY, and management offices of buildings for leads on places.

So we started with appointments at real estate agencies like mentioned above. These agencies often have agents assigned to specific neighborhoods in the five boroughs, mostly focused on Manhattan. In my experience they always require a broker’s fee, equivalent to one month’s rent or a percentage of it.

During my initial hunt, my roommate and I visited these companies with a limited budget, all of our paperwork and a guarantor. After viewing roughly 15 apartments in our price range outside of our desired neighborhoods, we decided to hit Craigslist instead of using the bigwig agencies. If you have a bigger budget and few or no neighborhood preferences, an agency like this may work for you.

Here’s where searching for an apartment becomes like a second job. My roommate and I have used Craigslist for each of the three times we moved.

Scour Craigslist and call about everything of interest to you. The great thing about Craigslist is the apartments are often posted by brokers no-fee and fee-based. If you see something you like, call to inquire. If the specific listing doesn’t work, ask the broker if they have anything else that fits your needs.

If you’re moving from another state, visit the city two to three weeks before you move to look at places and meet with realtors. In my experience, the turnover rate with available apartments is typically two weeks before the move date.

Trust your instincts when dealing with brokers, or anyone from Craigslist. Some may not have your best interest at heart. When the timing is right, you’ll find your apartment.


2 Responses to “GUEST POST: Is a broker right for you?”

  1. jenhasapen 01/12 at 8:24 pm #

    We were fortunate our building owner paid the broker fee for us. He won’t complete a single maintenance request since we moved in, but I guess that’s par for the course since he did us a solid at move in. 🙂

  2. ashley 01/01 at 8:26 am #

    Hey There!!

    This blog is great. My partner and I just decided to move to NY from Australia and I have just started doing my research. My partner is blind and has a guide dog, I have a feeling this is going to make it alot more harder.

    Are you able to tell me/give me any tips on finding a rental for both of us. From what I can tell no one really enjoys a couple moving in.


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