I recently conducted a search online trying to identifying the most common key words and phrases that people use when trying to find apartments to rent in NYC. I was surprised to discover that the clients’ most popular choices of key words are – no fee rentals NYC, or No fee apartments NYC, or no fee luxury rentals in Manhattan etc. I am not surprised to discover that consumers these days are looking for ways to save money by not having to pay fee to brokers; however, I am perplexed to discover that the majority of people do not care to “find a sunny apartment” for instance, or an apartment with a nice view but rather their priority is to find a No broker fee apartment.
Hence, I decided to run an experiment and put myself in the shoes of the renter. My intention was to see what kind of results the search engine would generate for me when I use the key word like no fee apartments NYC.
It is statistically verified that a large % of consumers who are using Google to look for goods and services online, tend to explore only the first 10 results which the search engine displays on the first page. Therefore, here I will focus only on the results that Google pulls on the first page when it comes down to finding a no fee apartment in NYC. But before we plunge down the rabbit hole, let’s first define a no fee apartment. You might think that it is an apartment which you do not have to pay broker’s fee for. But how do you think the broker gets paid if one is involved in the transaction? Since an agent does not make salary and collects no fee from you as incentive—how does he get paid? — In this case real estate agents are compensated by the owner.
NO fee Apartments NYC
- RENTHOP.COM – Working as a broker myself, I use rent hop and I know that this is a website which main purpose isn’t to create a source of information for consumers to find a no fee apartment. This website’s chief focus is to market brokers and sell them space on the website to promote their listings. The advertisings published by brokers are a good mix of fee and no fee apartments which authenticity is not verified by a third party. In order to find out if some of those apartments are really no fee, you will have to get intouch with a broker first.
- NOFEERENTALS.COM—this is a website which represents a landlord called Jacobson properties. Their apartments are really no broker’s fee, and you can approach them directly. The website gives legit information in reference to actual availability of apartments based only on the availability in Jacobson properties buildings. Now for those of you who would like to further explore the landlord, I would refer to the old adage- you get what you pay for. So do not expect to find free lunch here either. The landlord’s income verification and credit check criteria are very loose when screening tenants. No credit—No problem. Bad credit and bankruptcy—you are welcomed! Such liberal admittance policy makes me feel uneasy… Please do your research and due diligence and find out what other people say about maintenance and whether issues are being handled promptly. Saving on the brokers fee upfront but at the same time compromising on your lifestyle can be an unfair trade.
- HECHTGROUP.COM—this is a brokerage company which has two offices in the city– one located on 57th street and Lexington Avenue, and the other located on 77th street and Lexington Avenue. This is a full brokerage services company which has about 100 agents. I am associated with the broker and work for the company. Keep in mind that real estate in NYC is a commission based business, so the agents working under the broker’s name are self-employed. As a result we get paid no salary and make living off commission. In a strong rental market, we receive no incentives from the landlords therefore we collect our commission from the clients. Why the website comes in the search when I type “NO fee apartments in NYC”? The explanation is simple—when the market was no fee several years ago, the website was optimized to come in the search engine results when people look for a no fee apartment. You still might find a no fee apartment listing under some of the agent’s profiles but it is your responsibility to screen the listings and select only those which are no fee.
- ANCHORASSOCIATES.COM—the same story here—Anchor is a full service brokerage company with 3 offices in Manhattan and about 150 agents. If the real estate rental market is strong and agents are not compensated for their work by the owner, you the renter would need to pay the commission. We assume that Anchor has a section with only no fee rentals; however, once again this is not an actual website to look for –no fee rentals NYC.
- SKIPBROKERS.COM – This website offers an interesting concept but there is something fishy here! I did look at the website closely and once I opened the site in a new browser, I was prompted to give my email and personal information. The field to insert your personal information is required to fill in, and you have to disclose your moving date, name and contact information before you can browse their –Thousands of no fee apartments NYC.
Finally after sharing my personal information, I was given access to the database with apartments. The listings however, have a very generic look with limited number of pictures and no specific description. So why would they need my personal information before I am allowed access to their database? I can only speculate that this website platform aims to collect information and generate leads which eventually are sold to either brokers, or relocation companies. I might as well be better off working with a broker instead. I am personally not satisfied with the quality and diversity of listings found on the website and I feel a bit uncertain—was it worth sharing my personal information with those guys? My suggestion would be to steer away from websites which promise you the world for the exchange of your information.
- RAPIDNYC.COM— Old concept sold in a new great looking package. Rapidnyc.com marketing strategy revolves around one simple concept. They make public the explanation of how the broker’s fee works. With other words if the apartment is advertised as no fee apartment, nyc- rapid realty recognizes that their agents are still compensated for the labor by the landlord. However, my question is what do you do when the landlord does not offer any incentives at all? How do still advertise those listings as “no fee rentals”? It is all about smoke and mirrors with Rapidnyc.com, and as much as I want to be a believer that they have good intention to provide service to the customers, I have to disagree with their strategy. At rapidnyc.com– they tell you what the difference between the “no fee apartments and the fee apartments” are but they omit to explain why the owner would want to pay the brokers fee on the first place.
Most of the times when the owner pays the commission there is either a major disadvantage associated with the property , or the building has a volume of vacant apartments all at once. Therefore the owner is willing to rather pay a broker and advertise the property as a no fee rental rather than have the units stay vacant.
Could it be that the “no fee apartment” is just a label of a marketing strategy created to lure the consumers and make them take action? Could it be that the brokers fee is already imbedded in the monthly rent of a property which is advertise as no fee?
- RENTDIRECT.COM- This website markets a company which supposedly helps clients to find no broker fee rentals in NYC. They use similar strategy to the one implemented by skipbroker.com Once, you go on their website; you are prompted to create an account and give them your personal information. The website does not disclose how the information is being used, and they might be selling it to third parties—brokers. Once you give them the information, you are prompted to a page with a list with apartments with partial location and landlord information. If you would like to get full listing information, you have to create an account and pay a membership fee. Rent direct tries to convince you that they have access to the same database of available apartments and work exclusively with all the landlords the brokers work with; however this is not true. I am familiar with some property owners who do not disclose their available apartments with nobody else but a certain person designated to serve as their broker. This has been a tradition in their family for the last 20 years, and I doubt they would make any changes.
- STREETEASY.COM—this is another broker friendly website which optimal goal is to promote brokers for their services.
NYBITS.COM- Finally something better. I have to give this website a credit for delivering very accurate information in reference to buildings, owners, and helping users to directly connect them with the actual landlords. Nybits.com definitely stands out. This website gives users information without requiring them to share their personal information first. No activation fees, no membership fees required either. It appears that they might be updating the listing system on a regular so; prospective client can find the date when the listing was posted on and its availability date.
- NOFEERENTALSBYOWNER.COM—Fairly disappointing. This site requires a membership account creation first before they give you access to their database. The marketing which promotes the idea that the renter can get directly in touch with the owner and skip the broker is smart but how can you verify the credentials of the website promising you that? I did not find anything that can vouch for those people’s credentials to reassure me that their information is accurate and listings database updated. How do I know that the listings they would provide me with are not of rented apartments?
NO fee apartments NYC, really?
If I am a renter searching for a no fee apartment using keywords such as –“no fee rentals NYC” or, “No fee apartments NYC”, I would not want to find in my search result a website promoting brokers, or such one that requires my personal information in exchange for listings. It might be that the no fee apartments NYC is just a myth; or rather a marketing technique to shape peoples believes.