The first thing I would say is that whomever your rental agents were, they were extremely short-sighted. Every experienced rental agent knows that you are a potential future apartment buyer. Therefore it is in their best interest to help find you a decent apartment at a great price, so you would refer them to your friends, and even return to them in the future to buy.
To all buyers, I make this same recommendation: It is in your best interest to have your own representation in the form of a Buyer's Real Estate Agent. The overwhelming majority of sellers hire Real Estate Brokers to market and advertise their property, in order to get them the highest price possible. Just like any major investment you make in your lifetime, you would definitely benefit by having your own Buyer's Agent to help you understand comparable apartment prices, value per square foot in the neighborhood you are interested in, and presenting offers and an application when one is accepted.
A great Real Estate Sales Agent works in much the same way. It is in my best interest to get to know you, what is the most important criteria to you, and to show you apartments that fit your price range. If I save you money, in the long run, a referral from you goes a lot further than me making an extra few hundred dollars. Keep in mind that the difference in a commission that is $10,000.00 higher in price is roughly $600.00. In most cases, this $600.00 figure is split between both the Seller's and Buyer's agencies, and then it is split between the agencies and the agents. If the split is 50% between the agency and the individual agent, then I as a sales agent would make the whopping sum of $150.00 for pointing you to an apartment that was $10,000.00 more than what you wanted to spend. Also keep in mind that a slightly higher priced apartment, in a buyer's market (which we are in now), is likely to sell for less. Furthermore, any reputable Buyer's Agent would let you know that $10,000.00 amortized over the course of a 30 year fixed rate mortgage is hardly enough money that is worth losing your dream home. So as you can see, it is in the best interest of a specialized Buyer's Agent to help you save time and money.
I hope this roundup of reasons to buy via a specialized Real Estate Buyer's Agent is helpful. If you should have additional questions, feel free to get in touch with me.
Happy Apartment Hunting,
Lindsey Newman - Senior Real Estate Sales Associate