It’s 2013 — widespread use of the internet is well over 15 years old, and websites have largely replaced the need for human stock brokers and basic travel agents. Today we can even order delivery or hail cabs with our phones. How much longer will real estate professionals continue to thrive as consumers increasingly rely on technology and self-service models?
As it turns out, apartment brokers today still serve very important functions as hunting for a new home is very different from completing a quick, commodity transaction. As many of us seek out new dwellings for the coming year, here are fivereasons from RentHop (www.renthop.com), the smarter apartment search, you will want a broker in 2013:
1.) Your time and happiness is worth the fee
You can in theory find an apartment on your own. However, you’ll be the one running around the city, playing phone tag while coordinating appointments, tracking down the supers for keys, and then putting together a rental application. That’s only half the battle. Once you’ve gone through all the work finding a place you like, you’ll need to negotiate the rent, security deposit, and any other lease terms. The dirty secret is, brokers preview dozens of apartments every week, and only bother showing clients the absolute top handful of apartments. If you were look on your own, scheduling appointments successfully is a huge time sink, and the vast majority of inventory is a total waste of your time to see.
2.) Competition is Fierce
Vacancies rates are dropping across the board. These days a decent apartment will receive multiple applications. All else being equal, the landlord prefers a renter who comes through a trusted broker. In fact, most landlords prefer clients who come through brokers. The landlord doesn’t need to do as much of the paperwork and screening, and they know the client is much more likely to close on the deal, thanks to the broker’s hand-holding. Also, if the client is paying a fee, that signals to the landlord a more sound financial situation. Best of all, clients who use brokers tend to be more likely to renew the lease, attempting to mentally amortize the fee across more years.
3.) Great deals are truly hard to find
Most renters spend a few weekends a year looking for apartments. A professional broker is in the trenches, every day, all year long. Who is going to be knowledgeable about the markets and be aware of the best deals in town? Often times abroker develops personal relationships with the landlord or the landlord’s staff (supers, maintenance folks, admins, etc). A trusted broker may learn about upcoming available apartments before they are officially listed, and have the keys to the building in order to show it.
4.) More inventory is going exclusive
Nowadays, a lot of landlords don’t even want to manage the tenant-finding process. They contract out the showings exclusively to a rental broker who will charge a fee even if you show up without a broker. In the event you have representation, the two brokers agree to split the fee in a co-brokered transaction.
5.) Many landlords are still low tech
There is no universal database of rental listings in any city. Even in 2013, the industry still relies on spreadsheets and faxes to transmit listings to brokers and listing directories. Most brokers have a dedicated listings team that combines and keeps up-to-date all of the frequent updates from hundreds or thousands of landlords. Newer sites such as RentHop.com allow consumers access to direct aggregations of many firms, but there will always be some small landlords that slip through the cracks.