Rental Basics in New York>Question Details

Rentalrental, Other/Just Looking in New York, NY

Do I owe a broker's fee if I've never met the broker?

Asked by Rentalrental, New York, NY Thu Aug 13, 2009

Hi,
I looked at an apartment based on a broker's listing on the web. I went to the apartment ahead of the open house to look at it and was informed by a neighbor that the owner worked across the street. I met with him and he showed me the apartment. I told him I wanted to rent it and he said he's waive the broker fee, but I had to work with her to get all the paperwork sorted out. Well, she is charging me the full 12% broker's fee, but I have never even met her, nor did she show me any apartments. Is this grounds to argue for a fee reduction?

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Answers

7
If this is an exclusive (most likely as they were having an Open House) they earn a fee. Any attempt on your part to disrupt the contractual relationship between the owner and the agent would be tortuous interferance. You also found out about the unit from the brokers advertising ad, it seem syou went early in an attempt to beat the crowd, the owner should not have even discussed the unit with you but referred you to the agent...you were aware that it was listed by an agent so you also should not have contacted the owner.
The misconception that an agent is paid only for showing you an apartment is common. The agent has marketed the unit incurring expenses for advertising, photographs, etc. They may have shown it to 20 people. If agents compensation was based soley upon the time spent with the actual buyer or renter, we would make nothing. Did you pay all the other agents you spoke with any money? No, but you did use their time. BTW standard fees are typically 15% though that is not a law and agents are free to set them wherever they want.
It seems you may have gone poking around to get around the agent.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 19, 2009
I would say you owe the fee. If you didn't see that ad on the "brokers" website, you wouldn't have even known about the apartment, so in fact the broker did their job, now pay them for it.

Good Luck
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Aug 15, 2009
You found the apt on the broker's site, you went there ahead of the open house, and you then found out where the owner lived, went there and made a deal. Yes you owe the broker a fee!!! Be real what was your intention going early, then seeking out the owner... you tried to go behind the broker's back and avoid the fee.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Aug 15, 2009
My answer to your question is a question - why would you get to the broker's open house early, seek out the owner, and try to do a deal behind the broker's back? Rather than question if you owe a fee to the listing agent, better to ask yourself is this ethical? Do you really think your methods of skirting the process entitle you to a discount? You say you haven't met her nor did she show you any apts. But this was her listing, you went to her advertised open house (albeit early and managed to track down the owner) and she still has to do all the requisite work. Why would you be entitled to less of a fee by crossing the street to avoid her and meet him directly? Do you actually think you found this place on your own?
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 20, 2009
So, the owner said he would waive the broker's fee, but he still expects the broker to do all the work necessary to get you into the apartment? In fact--he requires it.

Does that mean a board package in this case, which can take many hours to prepare? Not to mention the time it took to put the apartment on the web so you could find it in the first place?

If so, no broker's fee--does that sound fair to you? I hope you don't need any maintenance on the apartment while you're living there, with a landlord like that--unless he is planning to pay the broker's fee for you (which is entirely possible). If he plans on paying the broker's fee, then that's fine, that may be his intention.

You should discuss your concern with the broker, tell her what happened. She should go back to the owner for a little chat to get things straightened out. If you have to pay, and you may not if the owner pays, then you should work out a compromise on the fee.

The broker is entitled to a fee from someone. However, please note that some unethical brokers collect a fee from the owner AND a fee from the tenant. Not at my company, but I hear this is happening. Since you know how to reach the owner directly, you can always check on this.

Hope it all works out nicely!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 14, 2009
Most of the answers are correct, if the rental is an exclusive rental then yes you owe a fee. In this market you shoud be able to find no fee apartments if you feel strongly about not paying a fee. Good luck, keep the faith!!!!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 21, 2009
Who is supposed to pay the fee? Either the landlord or the tenant pays it - popssibly the landlord will offer to split it........BUT........how can he, the landlord, "waive" someone's fee, as it wasn't coming to him. It is a commission being paid out to the agent or agents involved in the transaction.

I assume he has a written listing agreement. If so, he needs to stand behind it, and cannot arbitrarily waive or reduce anything. In my opinion, you don't have "grounds" to argue for anything. The broker's listing on the internet brought you to the apartment, Now he or she will be handling all the paperwork. The landlord and you should both be happy you found each other.....and it WAS a result of the listing being placed on the internet by the broker.

Best wishes......
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 14, 2009
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