Home Buying in New York>Question Details

Rustyk, Other/Just Looking in New York, NY

Have to pay a referral fee if a broker showed me an apt but i later found ad from the owner who was selling it

Asked by Rustyk, New York, NY Wed Sep 24, 2008

I had a broker showing me some no fee apts in NYC. She later decided to show me an apt which i might like. She did say there was a broker fee to pay for this apt. I told her I need to talk it over with my wife. She gave me an application/registration form from the broker company which had the broker fee contract agreement, She said if my wife and I are interested, we can fill out these forms and mail them. I decided to show my wife the apt later in the day (without the broker). I found a flyer in the lobby from the previous renter saying the apt was for rent and it had the super's phone number on it. We met with the super and he gave us application form to give to the management company. He said there was only a small application fee. If i sign the lease directly from the owner, can my broker still collect a broker's fee? I never signed any contract saying i would agree to the fee. Was there a verbal agreement? She was originally showing me no-fee apts

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From what you have described, technically it does not sound like you owe a fee to the broker. But as a broker it is our job to show you every apartment that fits your criteria. Can a renter find most of the apartments that a broker has access to all by themselves with a little bit of internet research, yes. It's not your broker's fault that she found an apartment that you could have rented without her assistance. That's the service a broker provides. You decided to work with her because she was taking you to apartments that fit your criteria. Even if it was a no-fee apartment there was probably some form of compensation that her company would receive for finding a customer for one of the units. Naturally your broker is going to want to know what decision you have made regarding the apartment and when she finds out that you have tried to make application without her knowing there will be some sort of conflict.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 26, 2008
Was this agent responsible for bringing the appartment to your attention? Would you have found it w/o her assistance.

Put yourself in her shoes.......how do you think she feels. Are you being fair and reasonable?

The fact that you are seeking validation leads us to believe your heart knows the right direction you should take.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 25, 2008
If you never signed anything, I do not think you have any legal obligations. Though cutting an agent out is normally not a great thing to do, if it was the agent who found you the apartment in the first place.

There are also two types of "no fee" listing (explained in more detail at the link below).

If the agent told you it was no fee, then that probably means that her commission was going to be paid by the building (not by you). But if you were not going to pay a fee in the first place, I'm not sure what would be gained by signing directly with the building instead of with the agent.

Alternatively, if she was asking you to pay the broker fee, then that just means it was an open listing. Here is a very common scenario:
- An agent takes someone to see an apartment, and quotes them a fee if they want to sign.
- The person goes home, looks the apartment up online, sees that it is "no fee," and thinks the agent was trying to rip them off.

There is nothing unethical about an agent charging a fee for showing you a "no fee" apartment. It is true that you may have been able to find the apartment yourself. But if you are going to ask an agent to find the apartments for you, then you should be prepared to compensate her for her time.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 30, 2015
I f you didn't sign any agreement I doubt that the broker will be able to prosecute youbut I can't give legal advice, let me know if you need a list of attorneys. I'm wondering how this turned out for you? One of the big problems in Manhattan is unlicensed "Apartment brokers" collecting application fees for apartments and ripping people off. Also if the flyer was from the previous tenant perhaps this is an illegal sublet that the super is helping with? The agent/broker was not looking out for her own interests by showing you that apartment, as you had not agreed to pay her fee and that building wasn't paying her fee. I f you want to clean your karma or conscience consider recommending and referring the agent to friends or family on a purchase of property (Could be anywhere) Or write a nice letter of recommendation if you think they deserve it for the work they did for you!
Please let us know the outcome.
Web Reference: http://joliemuss.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 27, 2008
Are we to be your Conscience?
Would you have known anything about that apartment if the agents had not shown you?
Do the right thing and pay the fee!
James Joseph
The R/E Maven
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 26, 2008
Don't be so fast to give a "token of your appreciation". If this agent holds her license under another broker it is not legal in NY for you to pay her. Any payment must go through her broker.
Web Reference: http://www.nyhomeseller.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 26, 2008
Maybe not legally, but ethically is a different story. A token of appreciation would certainly be in order. You are the only one who can decide what you'll do. This type of situation is the reason why brokers should always get a written agreement or stick to only showing no-fee units. Despite of what many believe, we do what's in the best interest of the client as we really deep down want to trust people. There's the old adage, no good deed goes unpunished. It's up to you whether you want to prove it right or wrong. The fact that you came here to ask the question makes me believe you'll do the right thing.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 26, 2008
Ute Ferdig -…, Real Estate Pro in New Castle, DE
As you didn't sign anything you probably don't owe her a fee. Keep in mind, you would have never known about this apartment if it wasn't for her. Do you think it's fair she doesn't get a fee?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 25, 2008
If you signed nothing and she did not show you the property, I would think there would not be a fee to pay.
Web Reference: http://GailGladstone.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 24, 2008
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