Debunking NYC Rental Myths

Myth #1: Real Estate Rentals in NYC are "Shady." Watch your back.

There was a time in NYC where most things were run "under the table." Everyone's hands were in each other's pockets. Brokers were expected to pay the management compaines to get the listing, supers were paid large amounts of money to show apartments exclusively and there were no "no fee website" and very little calling management companies directly. This is not the reality of rentals today, but the residual effects remain and the new change has created this aura of "shadiness." Below I go into detail of what is going on and what you can do about it.

Myth #2: Brokers show you apartments you could have gotten by yourself.

The broker will show you every apartments that fits your criteria, and mostly likely a good chunk of them are apartments that you could have found on your own if you had done the research or walked around a few neighborhoodies. This is not the broker's fault. However, that fact won't keep your from getting very, very angry when you find out you could have gone to a website or office on your own and did what the broker did. But keep this in perspective. You're paying for them to find you an apartment, and that is what they are doing. When I was a broker, I showed units in buildings where anyone and everyone who inquired had access. I also showed units in building where only brokers were welcome. This is the nature of the modern rental business. Five years ago there was no rental website, so you had to rent with a broker. Now that you have the tools at your disposal, the question becomes, what is the service worth? It's a business. You are a customer. Know what you are paying for before you buy it. It's just that simple.

Myth #3: Management Compaines are paid-off by brokers.

A decade ago, renting an apartment in New York City was very different. Brokers paid off management compaines so that they could be the only ones to rent the company's apartments. It allowed a monopoly for certain brokers who made big money collecting big, no-competition fees. DISCLAIMER: Not all management companies took pay offs, and not all brokers made pay-offs. But it happened

This practice has dwindled significantly. It still happens, but not nearly as often. So what does that mean for you? It means a scenario similar to this: you could be working with a completely honest broker who brings you to an apartment where you are the first one to bring the money and the application in, and then, all of a sudden, the management company receives another application, and you are pushed out. They give you the standard reasons for you having lost the apartment (i.e. they received another application before yours and didn't realize it right away.)

What can you do?

I have been in this situation several times with clients. Some of them wanted to pursue action by reporting them to the Better Business Bureau. I am all for that. But at the end of the day you are still trying to find an apartment. There will always be setbacks and if you obsess over every apartment you lose out on you will probably miss the next best deal by wasting time

Myth #4: Building supers are paid-off by brokers.

Again, this practice has dwindled over time, but it still happens. What does this mean? This means building superintendents (supers) will only open apartments for the broker who gave them a pay-off. This means that your broker could have an appointment with a super who was supposed to open an apartment when all of a sudden - no super. They fail to show for the scheduled time, and suddenly, the apartment is off of the market. Maybe your broker doesn't have access to the same apartments as other brokers do. Don't get paranoid... supers are often very busy people, and because of the limitations on their time, they frequently miss appointments. (Note to supers: I love you all just as much as I love doormen/women; you make the world go 'round.) However, I have had more than one super approach me for a pay-off saying that they would "help me" show the apartment faster.

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