The decision to use a Real Estate agent to find an apartment to rent in NYC is not an easy one. The fact is that there are many apartments in the city that are available to the public without agent representation and therefore no fee. The real question is whether you are willing to make your own phone calls, do your own research and do your own legwork. Access to information is key and most times that you end up renting an apartment through an agent in NYC, the truth is that you could have contacted the management company directly and rented the same apartment directly from them. Information is indeed power in the NYC rental market.
When I got my first job in Real Estate I was 21 years old and in my last semester of college at Hunter College. I took a data entry job at a brokerage on East 20th and 5th right near the Flatiron Building that operated a “No Fee” listing service. I was not yet licensed as a sales agent so I could only work for the No Fee apartment side of the business. My daily responsibility each day was to call a list of all management companies in Manhattan from A to Z and basically ask “Do you have any apartments available?”. If they did have apartments available I then took down the details of the apartment and information for gaining access to view the apartment. I would then enter the details of each apartment into our database. At the time, in 1998 we charged a one-time fee of $210 for “No Fee” apartment listings. You paid the flat fee and then each week we would update you via email or fax with a list of whatever new apartments we added to our database until you signed a lease for an apartment. The list would basically include a description of the bed and bath count and the contact information for the management company.
The main selling point of our service was that you did not have to pay a broker fee to find this apartment if you were willing to do your own legwork. This meant that you were going to contact the management company directly and deal with whatever nuances were involved in getting the right people on the phone and gaining access to the apartment for a showing. It would also be up to you to get an appointment, find out and understand the requirements for the application, and put together all your documentation and applications necessary to compete with the rest of the applicants AND RE agents trying to rent the same apartment. We were simply sharing our brokerage information that was readily available to the public (if they were willing to make the calls) with the public and helping them with the information side of the process.
After I entered that information into our company database, every agent on the brokerage side of the office had access to the same apartments that I had just cold called to get information on. The agents on the other side of the office would then show the same apartments to their tenant clients that had signed their form acknowledging that they would pay a fee for anything showed to them by the brokerage. While applicants attempted to go to the apartments themselves and apply themselves, they were basically competing with every applicant and every agent in the city that was trying to get that open listing rented. This was the case then and it is the case now. One big difference is that a lot of the management companies now advertise online and they are not that difficult to find. You still need to do the work of a full-time agent if you want to legitimately compete for an apartment available in the city.
So yes, there is an abundance of apartments in the city readily available to the public that can be had for no brokers fee at all. To this day a lot of the same management companies still manage the same buildings. The question remains however...Are you willing to do your own legwork? Are you good with controlling conversations? Keeping people on the phone and demanding the right information? How often are you actively negotiating? Have you negotiated the terms of a lease with an NYC management company before? Are you aware of how many applications are in on the same property? Do you know who your competition is? Are you aware of the specific requirements before viewing the apartment? Are you prepared with your documentation at the time of viewing the apartment so that you can actively compete with the rest of NYC applicants for the same apartment if it is the place you want? Quite simply…between your work and personal life do you really have the time to do the legwork necessary to find an apartment in NYC without representation?
Not much has changed in the last 20 years. The questions as well as the options are still the same between paying a fee or not paying a fee for an apartment in NYC.
At Davis Real Estate Group our rental agents are willing to put in that extra work and necessary legwork for the benefit of our customers once they have come to terms with and made the decision to pay a fee. THAT is why you pay a fee for an apartment that you could have found on your own. As a boutique firm relying on our technology investment and our referral base, we go above and beyond the necessary steps to not only find you the most ideal rental property to suit your needs but we look to reduce the stress and streamline the process for you and your loved ones. We encourage any applicant interested in our services to first take it upon themselves to find an apartment without paying a fee. Once you have exhausted that option and commit to hiring a Davis Real Estate Group rental agent, our goal is to get you into your ideal home with minimal headaches and maximum efficiency. Call us today for a free consultation and let’s work together to find you that NYC rental you have been dreaming about. Let US do the legwork for you.