What Your Real Estate Broker Should Do for You
If you are apartment hunting in Manhattan, you may have already discovered that you could spend many hours of your valuable time tramping around the city on your own in search of a place to rent that is in your budget and will suit your needs, and that you can actually get inside the building to view without an appointment.
The solution: engage a licensed real estate broker or licensed salesperson to work on your behalf. The agent will pre-select apartments in your size and budget range before taking you out to show you different buildings you might like.
Generally, you will pay the broker a commission once you have signed a contract to rent an apartment. Sometimes an apartment may be listed as “no fee” which means the owner of the building will pay the broker for finding a new tenant for them.
Before you decide which real estate company to work with, realize that, as in any industry, there are brokers who are excellent, and those who fall short of that standard.
I’ve been a licensed realtor in New York City for over 25 years and here at Sovereign Associates we strive to treat you like royalty. We live and work in the same area we service, so we know we’ll encounter you after the rental deal is done—we might see each other at the bank, at the park or going into a café. We have a vested interest in keeping our reputation as friendly professionals you can count on.
I’d like to share some tips with you so that you can enjoy a pleasant and satisfactory relationship with your real estate broker in Manhattan.
- Verify that whatever company you decide to work with is a member of REBNY (Real Estate Board of New York), and that the agents and salespeople are licensed by the State of New York (plus that their licenses are current).
- Do not give the real estate office any money “up front” to work with you. That is illegal. The only time you start paying money is when you sign an application for a specific apartment. At that time, you’ll be asked to pay a fee to process your application including credit check. This is generally $100-200, but may vary by building. When you sign the application, by law the documents must clearly state what you are agreeing to in terms of the monthly rent, the security deposit, and the broker commission you will pay upon the approval of your application.
- There are indeed “scams” out there to be aware of, where an unscrupulous person manages to copy a rental listing from a reputable company and then put a lower price on it at a website, hoping to con you into paying them an application fee and then run off with your money. Always follow the old rule of “buyer beware” and check credentials before working with someone. An easy rule of thumb is to meet at the real estate broker’s office and not just at Starbucks or outside the building you are interested in.
- Your licensed salesperson or broker should be knowledgeable about the neighborhoods you want to see.
- Let your agent know up front what you are looking for, how many bedrooms you desire, how many occupants will be living there, if you have pets (many buildings in Manhattan have pet restrictions, so give this information up front to save yourself wasted trips in your apartment search), and any other requirements you have.
- I always like to ask clients, “What would make you happy, and what would make you unhappy?” That way, we start off with a good idea of the deal-breakers you have in the back of your mind. We don’t want to waste your time or ours by showing an apartment that, for example, is on the fourth floor of a non-elevator building when you have your heart set on being no higher than the second floor.
- Your broker should be flexible in arranging times to show you apartments, and should be available by phone, text, email when you have questions or want to confirm your appointment.
- At Sovereign Associates, we specialize in being the top broker in Upper Manhattan, and we have great relationships with building owners. We know right away what is available and whether it will suit the needs you’ve told us about. Make sure your broker has a working knowledge of the part of town where you want to live, or you’ll be spending a lot of time looking at unsuitable buildings just because the agent wasn’t familiar with the area.
Good luck with your apartment search, and please feel free to contact us with your questions about Sovereign Associates’ apartment listings.
Photo Credits: photos of Greg Healy by Seren Page-Bailey
Photo Credits: three other images provided by freedigitalphotos.net -- by Stuart Miles and Damian Brandon
On Jun 6, Evelyn wrote:
Thank you so much -- very informative. These are great tips to share with my friends who are looking for an apartment in NYC.
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