There are certain professions that draw in a certain type of slick-tongued unethical person. The â€œshysterâ€ kind of person. One classic and clichÃ©d example is the used-car salesman. I would like to add another to the list: The apartment broker.
As someone in the process of finding a new apartment, dealing with brokers has become a masochistic game for me. They are not normal people. I have the distinct disadvantage of knowing exactly what I want and how much I want to pay. Brokers hate that. Hereâ€™s a watered down example of me trying to buy a shirt from a shirt broker if shirts were apartments:
Me: Iâ€™d like to buy a red tee-shirt for under $20. Do you have that?
Shirt Broker: Fill this form out.
Me: [fills out form] So, do you have any available?
SB: Do you want a long-sleeved green shirt for $30?
Me: No, I want a red tee-shirt for under $20.
SB: Do you have pets?
SB: You would look great in a blue tee-shirt for $25.
Me: Do you have any red tee-shirts for under $20? If you donâ€™t, thatâ€™s fine, but let me know so I can look elsewhere.
SB: [leans forward] Let me show you a shirt that no one else knows about. Youâ€™ll love it. Itâ€™s a checkered sweater and itâ€™s only $25. But for you, I can get it down to $20.
Me: I donâ€™t want a checkered sweater. I want a red tee-shirt.
SB: I can get a great deal on a gray tank top. Top of the line. Everyone wants this gray tank top.
And so on.
Thatâ€™s how it feels to deal with brokers -- frustrating and disturbing. One time, I met with a broker who seemed to be auditioning for the part of the evil gypsy woman in an off-off-Broadway play. She wore an obscene amount of makeup and remained in character the whole time while she purred her invasive and bizarre questions as she looked me up and down before finally telling me that she didnâ€™t have any apartments.
A lot of them do the high-pressure sales technique that involves some form of this-deal-wonâ€™t-last-so-you-have-to-act-fast garbage. Many of them donâ€™t give direct answers when you inquire about their fee. More than once, when asked about the fee, Iâ€™ve been told, â€œWeâ€™ll work something out.â€ What kind of answer is that? It implies something illegal and back-alley. I'm not buying child labor, I'm renting an apartment.
None of them will ever take a credit card. None of them will ever take a personal check. Most of them prefer cash. You know who else prefers cash? Drug dealers, hired killers and mobsters. One time, a broker I called didnâ€™t have an office or a business card, met me on a street corner and didnâ€™t know anything about the apartment. He did have the address and the key, though. And thatâ€™s what youâ€™re paying for -- someone who has the key. Itâ€™s the greatest scam in the world.
Sure, part of me is jealous. I would love to make $1,500 for doing six minutes of work. But I wouldn't want to sell my soul to be a scam artist. It would be a more ethical use my skills to sell bootleg movies or invest in blood diamonds sold to fund genocide. At least then I could sleep at night.
For me, it's back to Craigslist for "broker-free" listings. Wish me luck.
WORLD - AN EDGE IN MY VOICE
Copyright © 2010 Jane
Apartment brokers are lowly scum.
Copyright © 2010 Jane
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