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How to Pick a Broker

Good relationships are based on trust. So, how do you find an agent or broker you like and trust?

Given the fast and furious nature of the New York City rental market where about 8,000 brokers are hungrily hunting for business in a market with about a 3 percent vacancy rate — things can get a little frenzied.

Get started in finding a broker

  • Ask friends, co-workers or family. If you trust the judgment of your circle of friends and family, you should trust an agent they recommend.
  • Search for an agent on StreetEasy. You’ll see their current listings, if they have any. That will be a good indicator of their activity in the market. You can also check out their profile and determine professionalism.
  • Search for apartments that appeal to you and then narrow your list to agents who specialize in the neighborhood and inventory you want.

Things to look for in a broker

First, don’t assume the first broker you call or who shows you a listing is the one for you. Ask yourself:

  • Are they showing you properties in price points you can afford and neighborhoods you want to live?
  • Do they fit your communication style? (i.e., email, text, phone).
  • Are they showing you no-fee listings?
  • Did they do a bait-and-switch on you?
  • Are they asking you to sign something?
  • Do you register any red flags?

Important: Any broker that asks you sign an exclusive deal with them is not the broker you want to work with. This will limit your ability to see a wide range of apartments and will lock you to a broker that you might end up disliking.

Multiply your use of brokers

It’s nice to think you could rely on finding just one broker to show you everything you want to see, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes agents solely work in certain neighborhoods and sometimes even with certain buildings. Also, listing agents are the ones who have the inside information on the apartments. If you want a shot at a good apartment and want to be at the front of the line in a hot rental market like NYC, talk directly to the listing agent.


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