NEW YORK CABLE 1 - Money Matters - Cutting Out Broker Means More Work But Lower Cost Apartment Hunting
|Cutting Out Broker Means More Work, But Lower Cost Apartment Hunting
If you are using a real estate agent to look for an apartment in Manhattan, you may be asked to pay a 12-15 percent broker's fee.
While Michael Jacobs is a broker, he says it doesn't always make sense to use one, and that's why he and his partner Peter Hungerford started UrbanSherpaNY.com.
“A broker basically serves as a middle man between the owner and the tenant. I am looking to eliminate the middle man and unleash the information this broker has and make it accessible to the public,” says Michael Jacobs of UrbanSherpaNY.com.
After running the real estate firm Citywide Apartments for three years, Jacobs says they were in the perfect position to set up a website that allows potential renters to find apartments for themselves without using that middle man.
The site offers detailed information about what's available, how much it costs, and even how much it rented for in the past.
“I have listened to all the complaints coming in from prospective tenants that we deal with on a daily basis. We are just looking to provide an ultimate solution to the broker-driven system, so that individuals can if they are willing to put in the effort find an apartment for themselves,” says Jacobs. “We provide them with owner information, super information, all the management information.”
And if your worried about subscription costs, that need not be a concern.
“As far as our site is concerned, and as far as using it and looking at the history or anything there are no fees of any kind,” says Peter Hungerford of UrbanSherpaNY.com.
Not having to pay a fee sounds great in theory, but real estate experts say a broker can add value to your apartment search.
“Brokers can do a lot of things for you,” says Lockhart Steele of Curbed.com. “A lot of them have access to exclusive listings, a lot of them will run the application process for you. So when you are applying to get into a building, for instances, there is a series of reference checks, credit checks, things like that. It varies depending on the building. But a lot of times landlords don't want to be bothered with doing that stuff themselves and a lot of times people who are renting don't want to be bothered to do that stuff themselves.”
Lockhart of Curbed.com, a website that features tips and news on what's happening in the real estate world, says if you are dead-set on going it alone, just be prepared to act quickly.
“Usually you have to do a lot of legwork. You are going to have to go out to a lot of open-houses, go out to places where you'll find you may be one of 10 or 15 or 20 people looking at the same apartment,” says Steele. “So you want to be prepared you want to have your checkbook with you, ready to cut a check; you want to have your references with you; you want to have anything you may need so that a landlord can approve you as quickly as possible.”
Whatever way you cut it, finding a place to rent is quite a process, but if you find just the right apartment it will be worth the work.
– Lindley Pless