Finding a good broker in NYC is a lot like online dating. You peruse online profiles, pick the most attractive listings, and make plans to meet up. Nervously, you wait outside the building hoping the broker shows up and perhaps you can recognize them from their photos. You suffer through a lot of bad meet-ups until one day, when you least expect it, you find the perfect one who will show you what you’ve been searching for all along.
As with any successful relationship, a healthy broker-renter relationship depends largely on one thing: Communication. It requires both parties to be upfront, honest, and responsive to one another. Since brokers are multi-taskers who work with numerous clients each day, they are more inclined to put effort into clients who are serious and committed to the process. Similarly, you’re much more likely to find your dream apartment if you can clearly communicate your needs and expectations to your broker.
Here are six communication tips to get the best out of your broker.
1. Establish a Communication Plan
When working with a broker, you’ll need to communicate regularly to schedule apartment viewings, submit application materials and negotiate pricing. It’s therefore important to clarify how you will communicate with each other. Some people are exclusively texters, others are synced up with their Bluetooth and on the phone constantly, while still others are Gmail addicts. Everyone’s different, but determine the communication channel that works best for both of you. Armed with this information, you can then work more efficiently and seamlessly together. For example, if he’s an emailer, you’ll know to refresh your inbox more regularly to see if he’s sent you updates on new listings. Alternatively, if you’re ever running late to a showing or have trouble getting into a building, you’ll be able to remedy the situation quickly if you know your broker’s main form of communication.
2. Be An Adult & Be Responsive
Good brokers tend to avoid clients who seem flaky or noncommittal. Aside from making the rental process a nightmare, brokers may be wary about promoting your rental application to the landlord if they suspect that you’ll be an irresponsible tenant who will jeopardize their reputation for future rentals. To avoid this type of situation, be responsive to their attempts to reach you. In return, it’s reasonable to expect your broker will be responsive and attentive to your questions or concerns. If your broker repeatedly blows you off, that’s a warning sign that you might need a new broker.
3. Set Budget Expectations Clearly
NYC has apartments that accommodate a wide range of budgets, but you need to be realistic about the bang you’re expecting for your buck. For example, you can’t expect to score a one-bedroom with a patio in the West Village for $1,500/month. While it’s sometimes smart to provide a starting budget lower than your absolute upper limit, your broker may not take you seriously if your expectations are wildly unrealistic. Along the same lines, don’t feel pressured to go above your means, even if your broker is persuasive. Decide what you are willing to pay, and communicate clear boundaries to your broker.
4. Communicate Your Priorities
Though we all would like to find an apartment that meets every criterion on our wish list, NYC real estate usually involves some degree of sacrifice. Decide what is most important to you and convey your priorities to your broker. For example, you might be willing to forgo the in-unit washer/dryer, but can’t live without a dishwasher. The clearer you are about your own needs, the better your broker will be able to help you.
5. Speak Up If You’re Unhappy
If your broker isn’t showing you anything you like, or you feel that they’re misunderstanding your priorities, speak up! Though you might worry about hurting the broker’s feelings, your broker will definitely prefer hearing your concerns upfront and having the chance to improve, rather than continuing to disappoint you and eventually being ghosted.
6. Be Upfront About Potential Obstacles
If you have any potential obstacles standing in the way of being approved as a tenant, it’s better to be upfront with your broker to avoid wasting both of your time. For example, if you know you’ll need a guarantor, you shouldn’t waste time viewing listings that don’t accept guarantors. Similarly, if you have a large dog, there’s no sense viewing apartments that don’t allow pets. In some cases, your broker might be able to help you negotiate these terms with the landlord ahead of time, rather than running into a situation where the rental falls through at the last minute due to lease violations. Just be honest!