The Internet and the information age have taken the real estate market (and every other market, for that matter) by storm. In the past, attempting to navigate the Manhattan rental market without a broker or some sort of professional assistance was often an exercise in confusion and frustration, to say the least. Fewer people possessed the knowledge or resources to successfully brave the Manhattan market alone, and even fewer still had the patience. Now, with more free online classifieds, no–fee rental sites, public real estate databases and forums hitting the Web every day, renters are becoming incredibly savvy about the world of Manhattan real estate. Using available free (or cheap) tools designed to provide transparency and open access to the real estate market, you, too, have the ability to find a great apartment without enlisting the services of a broker. All you need is plenty of time.
Today, most Americans lead extremely hectic lives. How much time you have left in your day after accomplishing your daily duties at work and home will of course vary greatly depending on your present situation, but the more time you can devote to your self–propelled apartment search, the more likely you are to wind up with an apartment you’re happy with. You should look at your apartment search like it’s another “job” — one that you need to donate copious amounts of hours and energy to in order to get done properly. If you choose to search on your own, understand that much of your Houses for Sale in Los Angeles free time will be spent poring over apartment listings and coordinating viewings. If you work full time, you’ll probably need to take time off or use your weekends to view apartments, as you must work around the schedules of the owners or supers showing the properties (and many prefer showing apartments weekdays during normal work hours). You may take the time to check out 20 apartments only to find you hate everything, and become exasperated and bitter as a result. Apartment searching may even become somewhat of an obsession — you may find yourself itching to browse listings and frantically making phone calls on your lunch break to set up appointments, all in hopes of not missing out on that elusive apartment that’s “the one” (not that we know from experience, of course).
Keep in mind that if successful, you’ll be handsomely rewarded with a happy home you found on your own, and you’ll also be 15 percent of your annual rent richer (since you avoided a broker fee). On the other hand, apartment hunting in Manhattan without a broker is far from easy, and can, in short, make you feel like ripping your hair out. Particularly if you’re using a free online classifieds service to search, you’re bound to at some point run into con artists and scams; flaky, unprofessional owners who miss appointments and never return your calls; and apartments that look like fantastic in photos, but in reality more closely resemble accommodations at Riker’s. These things happen.
So what will you get if you decide to use a broker? Mostly, the gift of time. Brokers know what is available, going to be available and what apartments aren’t worth the time to look at. They will use this information to eliminate many units that won’t meet your criteria and make sure that you are only seeing the best properties on the market. This market knowledge is invaluable to renters who are picky, time–strapped or not familiar enough with Manhattan to successfully search for themselves. Once you find an apartment you like, the broker will also help you prepare your application package and, if necessary, negotiate with the landlord.
You may be surprised to know that with the exception of exclusives, Manhattan brokers generally do not possess any special inventory of apartments that the layman can’t access. So, your broker’s personality and working style is really what you need to evaluate when deciding who to work with. Whether they are with the largest or smallest company, you’ll still have access to the same great apartments. The bottom line is, if you feel your broker doesn’t have your best interests at heart, find someone who does.