226 W 150th st.
45 W 139th St
40 Pinehurst Ave.
Photo By: Mathew Henry
By Bohemia Agent Michaela Morton
When I first hit NYC, I was dedicated to finding a no-fee, no-broker, and (as I saw it) no-scam apartment. I had time and energy for the hunt, a tight budget, and a limited stash of cash intended to get me through my first few months as a teaching artist.
What I did not have was a clue about what the job of a real estate agent was – turning keys and opening wallets, I figured. In fact, I had no idea how or when I would even pay an agent, and spent my first three or four email exchanges with one trying to figure out the catch.
So it was a surprise to me and maybe to everyone else when I got into this job that I gradually started to see real estate as a kind of missionary endeavor – because yes, the rumors are true. There are some skeezeballs and hack-jobs in this industry looking to make a quick buck. But there are also creative, collegial, ethical companies trying to find people homes. That’s the job I signed on to do. So here’s the skinny on what your fee (or the landlord’s, if you luck out with a place where the owner will pay your agent) is actually paying for:
ON THE PAVEMENT:
Your agent streamlines your search by offering an expert view of the NYC rental market. When not showing apartments, she’s researching and previewing them. A good agent knows the neighborhood, the landlords, and the apartments that will best fit your needs. She can’t create magically massive apartments or promise a stress-free move. And she won’t vouch for a challenge-less match between tenants & landlords. But she can and will advocate for you all the way. Once you’ve found an agent you like and trust, stick with her. You’ll be rewarded with a fun, fast, and efficient search helmed by someone who is 100% committed to you.
If I’m your agent, making the application is my chance to prove to the landlord that you’re the right tenant for the apartment. In a market as glutted with potential renters as NYC, working with a good agent distinguishes your application. For the landlord, it’s the difference between a random pick-up in the subway and a date with someone Mr. Landlord’s best friend said was a perfect match.
Whoa, Michaela. What’s with all the dating analogies? “Trust”? “Commitment”? “Relationship”? I just want a freakin’ apartment!
I get it. But here’s the thing:
When it comes to agents, you gotta stand by your woman (or man).
Yes, there are a few unethical hucksters running around this market trying to take you for a ride. But happily, most agents have access to very similar listings. And, since all members of the Real Estate Board of NY are legally required to co-broke, your agent can call around on your behalf to set up showings for any apartment you like. The broker fee you pay is not for the apartment; it’s for all the work the agency and agent you've chosen do for you.
(Plus, if you’re getting seriously studious and looking to buy -- maybe not as far off a graduation as you think -- an agent offers free-to-you aid!)
If you have any questions about the rental or buying process, now’s the time to ask a Bohemian – school’s in session year round.
An actor, writer, and fluent French speaker, Michaela has a knack for connection and loves nothing more than making friends of neighbors and neighbors of friends.