View Full Version : Broker Discouragement-What service to expect from a Broker?

May 24th, 2008, 11:29 PM
My husband and I were originally looking at moving in May, but after our not so great broker experience, we decided to stay where we are at till August (when we have not choice but to move). Our expectations and budget are very realistic. We went to a broker that is a friend of a friend. We thought that was the safest and wisest way to go. The guy did absolutely nothing for us. After a few emails and a few phone calls, I explained to him what we were looking for. We finally got together on a Saturday (2 weeks before we had to decide if we were going to move in May) and he showed us 5 apartments. He didn’t know anything about the apartments and when I asked a basic question he would respond with “I will have to ask and get back to you.” Is this common? I felt like he was walking into those apartments completely blind.

Am I wrong for thinking that the broker should know about the apartments before he shows them to us? He never emailed me listings before hand or provided me with details about apartments. I felt like I had done more research and knew more about things than the broker.

Am I asking for too much? I feel like with what I am going to be paying for a broker, there should have to be some effort and customer service on their end, am I wrong? Am I really just paying for the listings? What should I be expecting in service from a broker?

Thanks for any and all advice!

May 26th, 2008, 07:01 PM
While I'm not in New York, my family moved last year and found our house through a broker. He was incredibly helpful, showed us around seven houses in our area before we found one that everyone was comfortable with, and stayed patient the entire time. He asked my parents questions about all kinds of criteria so that he could be as specific as possible in finding places to show us.

Hell, he even advised us not to buy the house we're in now, when it turned out that the guy selling it was bitter and didn't care about breaching the contract. He was willing to forfeit his commission over this, and the breach wasn't even anything huge - they ripped out the dishwasher and appliances when the contract stated that they were included with the house.

I'm not an expert with brokers, I'm still in high school and I haven't yet started a real search for my first apartment. But my parents were extremely satisfied with our broker last year. It sounds like your broker isn't trying very hard. :confused:

Good luck..

May 28th, 2008, 10:54 AM
Hi Portia --

In New York City, rentals -- especially non-high-end rentals -- are very hard for everybody. If you're a broker and you're good, you can make more money on sales or on high-end rentals, so you tend to shy away from doing "regular" rentals. (I wrote a book called "Diary of a Real Estate Rookie" that has a whole chapter about this.)

I don't know what your budget is, but you say it's "realistic" -- so let's say you are looking to spend $3,300 on a downtown one-bedroom.

At that price, you are paying nearly $40K in rent -- so you're looking at a broker's fee of nearly $6,000.

For that, you want to see a few suitable apartments.

However, the vacancy rate is very low and apartments turn over very quickly. It's unlikely that the inventory remains the same from month to month.

So you're looking at new inventory, which your broker hasn't seen yet either. At high price points, your broker can "preview" units before you get there -- but no listing broker is going to let your broker do that at "reasonable" price points.

Also, there's no room in a $6,000 fee structure for someone to spend a few hundred taking professional photos and drawing up floor plans.

So your broker (who, by the way, is only going to end up with about $1,500 in his/her pocket from your deal) is just pulling things blind off a computer. The only way they would know what they're looking at is if they're a neighborhood specialist. I work Chelsea a lot, so I know what a unit in the Piermont or the Archstone is going to look like, even if I haven't been in that particular unit.

So is your particular broker a moron, or just stretched too thin beyond the bounds of their neighborhood expertise? I can't tell. I do think it's not too much to ask him/her to have emailed you the listings beforehand, so you could have gone over them together --- and to expect him/her to know some basic things, like whether there's laundry in the building or it allows dogs.

For something above that though -- like if I was walking around with you and you asked me if you could install a dishwasher in a particular unit -- I would have to say "I'll get back to you."

I hope that helps.

ali r.
{downtown broker}