Apartment brokers find apartments for you and they charge broker fees–a one-time fee that usually amounts to 10 to 15 percent of your annual rent–for their services. Since this can total hundreds or sometimes thousands of dollars, you may be interested in knowing how to avoid paying these fees when apartment hunting.
Step 1: Don’t Use a Broker
A simple but perhaps often overlooked way to avoid paying broker fees is simply to forgo using a broker. Use the Internet and the classifieds to find vacant apartment listings. You can also just walk or drive through areas in which you may be interested in living and look for vacancy signs. Speak with the landlord or management company directly and although there will likely be closing fees, a security deposit and other fees, you’ll at least save yourself from paying a fee to a third party broker.
Step 2: Ask about No Broker Fee Apartments
If you can’t find an apartment on your own, turning to a broker may be your best option. Brokers sometimes have exclusive access to apartments, particularly in neighborhoods where many people want to live and where there aren’t a lot of vacancies. Brokers can also do the legwork for you, meaning you won’t have to make time to arrange a tour of apartments that may not meet your desired criteria. Avoid paying broker fees by asking the broker to only show you no broker fee apartments. These are usually offered when a management company opts to pay the broker fees for you at closing so the money won’t come out of your pocket.