One of the crueler ironies of the New York rental market is that one of the best ways to find an apartment that you can barely afford is to pay a broker thousands of dollars, which you definitely cannot afford.
While the majority of New Yorkers write the check through gritted teeth, reconciling themselves to the inevitability of paying for the privilege of signing a market rate lease, there are some who adamantly refuse to cough up the cash, according to a recent Crain’s article.
Citing a rent.com study, Crain’s reports that four out of ten New Yorkers won’t use brokers on principle.
Some simply feel that they’d rather use the money they’d spend on a broker—brokers generally collect a 15 percent commission on the annual rent—to get a better apartment. But there are more than a few who hate the rigged system so much that they would give up eating out for a year in exchange for avoiding a broker’s fee or even move to New Jersey.
Brokers, of course, can run the gamut from tireless advocates who scout listings incessantly to people who show you the apartment that you found on craigslist and then make you pay $2,000 if you want to take it. But they have, it seems, only increased their hold on the city, especially in Manhattan, where rents are at their highest level in two years, with prices going up ruthlessly as vacancy rates fall.
So how does one avoid the broker’s fee? Survey respondents said they searched as close to their current places as they could, asking family, friends and neighbors for help. And moving to New Jersey, of course.