In the age of Craigslist and StreetEasy, why would we ever need a real estate broker?
Actually, a real estate broker can boost your credibility, power through your negotiations and find you listings that aren't even on the market. And beyond that, sometimes you don't even need to pay them for their services!
When exactly should you use one, and how should you find the right broker for you? We asked New York City broker Justyna Czekaj to explain.
1. You Need to Negotiate
Justyna Says: Brokers are skilled negotiators because negotiation is a routine part of their job. In fact, they take classes to ensure that their negotiation skills are top notch. Further, because brokers specialize in one neighborhood, they are knowledgeable on market rents and fair prices. With this niche knowledge, a broker can negotiate your rental price with a landlord if both you and the broker feel that the price is to high for the quality and location of the unit.
2. You Need More Credibility
Justyna Says: As a result of the neighborhood specialization, brokers often have close and trusting relationships with landlords and leasing agents. Further, landlords trust brokers to financially qualify prospective tenants. This gives your application an advantage you wouldn't have if you had submitted the application yourself.
3. You Need Insider Access
Justyna Says: Because of constant interaction with landlords, leasing agents and doorman in an area, brokers are often privy to which units will be available even before they hit the market. In fact, many units are rented without ever being publicly advertised. This inside knowledge can ensure that you don't miss the apartment of your dreams.
4. Your Building Will Cover the Broker's Fee
Justyna Says: There are numerous building where the landlord will cover the broker fee in exchange for the broker finding a financially qualified tenant with good credit. Quickly finding and placing these tenants into an apartment is a landlord's first priority because the landlord would rather pay for the broker than have the apartment sitting vacant and losing money for weeks. Landlords trust brokers to have extensive databases of qualified candidates and so, expect that placing a tenant will be a quick and seamless process.
5. Your Building Insists on a Broker
Justyna Says: Many leasing agents who handle the rentals in a development have exclusive agreements with brokers, meaning they won't even let you in without a broker for reasons similar to the ones mentioned above. Coming with a broker suggests you are serious about your search, have the financial backing and paperwork to support an application if you choose to move in and are working with someone the leasing agent trusts.
How to Find the Right Broker for You
Justyna Says: It's important to find a broker that will work for you and with you. By law, real estate agents are required to act ethically and in the best interest of their clients. Keep these questions and considerations in mind when choosing the perfect broker for you:
- Ask your friends, family members and co-workers if there is an agent they have worked with that they would recommend.
- Go on LinkedIn and look for a rental agent in your area. On their profile you will be able to see what they specialize in, work history and, most importantly, recommendations from other clients.
- If not using LinkedIn, still ask your agent for referrals from other clients he/she has worked with.
- What is your initial feeling about the agent when you meet him/her? Can you see yourself spending time going to home viewings with them?
- Is the firm the agent works for reputable and known for providing exceptional customer service and high-quality listings?
Before discarding the idea of collaborating with a broker, call a few to determine how they can help you and the fees, if any, that they charge. You may be surprised at how much you begin enjoying apartment hunting!
Justyna Czekaj is New York City-based Licensed Real Estate Salesperson at Keller Williams, the country's second largest real estate company. She is also an avid writer with a focus on helping women become financially independent through investing and entrepreneurship. You can follow her on Twitter @CzekajRE.