Do renters need to pay an agent fee to realtors?

Asked by Murphy Law, Boston, MA Wed Feb 20, 2013

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Heath Coker’s answer
Heath Coker, Agent, Falmouth, MA
Tue Feb 26, 2013
Hi Murphy Law.

They don't need to pay a fee.
Some companies get their fee from the owners and some get a fee from the renter.

It depends on the company.
They should disclose any fee to you when they first show you units.

Of course choosing an experienced local real estate pro can help you save a lot of time.
(Not me for Boston, I'm on the Cape, but I can help you choose a local pro when you are ready.)

(Please note: when you choose an answer as a Best Answer, or at least give a thumbs up, it helps those who answer questions here.)
2 votes
CH Naamad, Agent, Boston, MA
Wed Feb 20, 2013
Real estate agents represent the landlord in Mass. However, it is the clients who pay their fees most of the time these days, especially in the Boston area where demand is high and inventory is low.
there are 3 possible scenarios when it comes the broker fee:
tenant pays full fee
owner pays full fee
owner pays a portion of the fee and tenant pays the rest.
Kind regards,
2 votes
Angela Guo, Agent, Brookline, MA
Wed Feb 20, 2013
Yes, as with any service consumers are expected to pay the service provider.

A good real estate agent can save you many hours of valuable time in looking for housing that meets your criteria, arranging showing and coordinating between the landlord, current tenants and other incidentals/conflicts that may crop up.

However as previously mentioned there are several ways an agent can be compensated, by the landlord, by the renter or a combination of both. In boston due to the current supply and demand it is usually the renter who usually pays the fees, but some landlords do offer to help.

Happy Homes
1 vote
The fee should be paid by the party whom the agent is representing. Boston has it backwards. It's rare in other states to pay a fee to a realtor who isn't representing you or your interests. When I buy a home I don't pay the realtor commission. Same should be true of renting/leasing unless I have a realtor who finds the property for me in which case I could see paying 50% of the commission and the owner paying the other 50%.
Flag Wed May 18, 2016
They do help.

But $500/hr is pretty bloody absurd and you know it.
Flag Tue Mar 24, 2015
Tim Moore, Agent, Kitty Hawk, NC
Wed Feb 20, 2013
Usually if a Realtor finds a renter a rental the landlord pays any commission.
1 vote
Christine Mo…, Agent, Wilbraham, MA
Sun Feb 24, 2013
usually the landlord is paying the realtor a commission and the realtor is sharing it with whomever brings in the buyer. So it should be free to you, but each contact is different. Some people charge a fee if you end up not renting so they can get paid anyway for their time. Just ask.
0 votes
Mario Pavli, Agent, Boston, MA
Wed Feb 20, 2013
In this market, the client always pays. There are also luxury buildings/private landlords that do offer some sort of compensation as well but that's very rare. To avoid confusion you can ask the agent to only show you listings that are "no broker fee".

In my experience even the properties that are "no broker fee" the fee is rolled into the rent, so in the end you always pay it.

Best Of Luck
0 votes
Mary Ellison, Agent, Boston, MA
Wed Feb 20, 2013
Yes, Mr. Naamad put it well. The landlord hires the broker to show his or her apartment. Typically the tenant pays the fee; sometimes though, the landlord will agree to pay half to get it rented. I've never seen the owner pay the whole fee, but Mr. Naamad is right, it could certainly happen. Good luck in your search.
0 votes
Fran Laplume, , Boston, MA
Wed Feb 20, 2013
Yes! A Realtor's service aren't free. I charge a fee when investor are looking for foreclosure.
0 votes
John Dean, Agent, Somerville, MA
Wed Feb 20, 2013
Yes when working with a rental agent a fee is pretty much the norm but part of it can be shared by the landlord in some cases. Consumers should be told up front of the fees for unit and the rate of the rental agent. There is a form the state mandates .
0 votes
Rafael Herna…, Agent, Roslindale, MA
Wed Feb 20, 2013
If the the landlord pays a portion of the fee then the renter pays the other portion and if the landlord pays the full fee then it can be the case that the tenant does not have to pay any if the fee but more likely hen not in today's market the fee is being split between the renter and landlord. The fee is usually one months rent.
0 votes
Andrew McLau…, Agent, Boston, MA
Wed Feb 20, 2013
That might be true in Nags Head. It's a different custom here in Boston where the question from Murphy Law was asked.
In this market, renters typically pay the broker fee.
If you want to avoid paying any fees don't use a broker.
0 votes
Scott A. Nel…, , 02155
Wed Feb 20, 2013
The fee can be paid one of 3 ways. All by the renter, all by the landlord or a combination of both. The rental real estate professional has to get paid somehow.
0 votes
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