How to secure a no-fee apartment

When you’re searching for a new home, there are endless hidden costs—or, they’re hidden in plain sight! No matter how you allocate your finances, the experience is a drain on your bank account.

If you’re lucky enough to have disposable income, it might give you some peace of mind to follow the old ‘time is money’ adage—it can be worth it to spend extra money in ways that will save you time in this exhausting process. But when disposable income isn’t a factor, you’ll be looking to save at every turn.

A financial question that everyone searching for an apartment will run into is the ‘fee or no fee.’ This is, of course, referring to the broker fee. For many years, the broker fee was an inescapable cost of apartment searching: brokers show apartments for landlord and management companies, and their salary is composed of the broker fee, paid by the tenant securing a new apartment.

In recent years, the broker fee has become a more negotiable part of the search. With a consistently competitive market, landlords became willing to forfeit part of move in costs to the broker, making the move in price lower for tenants.

It’s easier than ever to find a no-fee apartment. Most apartment search engines specify a ‘fee/no fee’ option, and many specific ads for no fee apartments will advertise the feature prominently.

When using a brokerage, make sure to check with each individual showing whether the fee is waived or not. Many brokers may work with multiple management companies who each have their own practices.

Luckily, no fee apartments are available in nearly all areas of New York. When you’re searching online, using the fee/no fee feature and a neighborhood specifier will help you find the no fee listings in the area you desire.

Then again, if you’re looking for a speedy series of showings with a lot of personal attention, it can be worth hiring a personal broker to do most of your searching for you, and this does involve still paying a broker fee. But again, time is money! If you have the money to spare (generally equivalent to one month’s rent,) but no time to do the exhaustive internet searching, going with a broker and the fee may be the move for you.

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