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Apartment brokers are lowly scum.

by Jane (writer), Astoria, June 04, 2007

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There are certain professions that draw in a certain type of slick-tongued unethical person. The “shyster” kind of person. One classic and clichéd 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. Here’s a watered down example of me trying to buy a shirt from a shirt broker if shirts were apartments:

Me: I’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?
Me: No.
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 don’t, that’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. You’ll love it. It’s a checkered sweater and it’s only $25. But for you, I can get it down to $20.
Me: I don’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.

That’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 didn’t have any apartments.

A lot of them do the high-pressure sales technique that involves some form of this-deal-won’t-last-so-you-have-to-act-fast garbage. Many of them don’t give direct answers when you inquire about their fee. More than once, when asked about the fee, I’ve been told, “We’ll work something out.” 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 didn’t have an office or a business card, met me on a street corner and didn’t know anything about the apartment. He did have the address and the key, though. And that’s what you’re paying for -- someone who has the key. It’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.


About the Writer

Jane is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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11 comments on Apartment brokers are lowly scum.

Log In To Vote   Score: 2
By Jane on June 05, 2007 at 06:05 pm
Reza, that's what people tell me is the norm in any other place on earth besides New York City. (But on the other hand, I don't own a car and therefore don't pay car insurance. It's all relative, I suppose.) I fantasize about that scenario, actually. I have dreams of renting ease.
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By Venditto on June 07, 2007 at 09:41 am
your hatred of these people has touched a special place in my heart.
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By Jane on June 07, 2007 at 09:04 pm
Touching special places is what I do best, Venditto. *perverted wink*
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By Steven Lane on June 21, 2007 at 01:35 pm
great article...good luck
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By Annonymous on November 30, 2007 at 11:03 pm
Jane, Most apartment brokers are painstakingly ethical and honest (we are in competition with each other, afterall) so your depiction of us as a sheisty, nefarious breed is both ill-informed and dumb. Have you bothered to consider why landlords employ brokers? Because they understand that no one lies nearly as much as prospective tenants and ask that we screen folks out carefully. I suppose that may be a bit much for your need to simplify us as "lowly scum" and yourself as a poor little victim in the big city.
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By Jane on November 30, 2007 at 11:38 pm
Awesome. Prove me wrong and find me an apartment!
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By DanielAlbert on December 01, 2007 at 10:07 am
Where would you like to live & when?
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By DanielAlbert on December 01, 2007 at 10:08 am
If it's either Park Slope or Windsor Terrace, call me at 718-840-2019. Anywhere else, good luck!
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By BrokerRevolt on March 03, 2008 at 12:44 am

Hello Friends! Help has arrived. After being abused by a handful of dirtbag brokers I founded www.BrokerRevolt.com.  It started off as a guide to aid people in their seach, but, coming by the end of March, BrokerRevolt.com is coming with no fee apartment listings, a vibrant community to share tips and tricks and most importantly the "play book" brokers use to con their clients.  You don't want to miss it! 

Also, I am not in this for hte profit, just to cover costs and time.  If you don't use my site, please use craigslist or any other site to avoid brokers at all costs---I want to make that profession a thing of the past.

Regards,

Broker Revolt

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By BrokerRevolt on March 03, 2008 at 12:47 am

In response to "anonymous" above who asked why Landlords use brokers...it's for one reason and one reason only....to save time! You bring no value except that you find the landlord a tenant so he can go about his day job.

This is also the reason why prospective tenats use brokers---to save time.

Not only did I launch brokerrevolt.com but I am launching two other sites to arm renters against brokers.  Look for them come summer.  I'm getting angry just thinking about the topic.

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By mooshi on August 30, 2011 at 03:54 pm

Jane, THANK YOU for making me feel NORMAL!!!!!! I have been dealing with brokers to find an apartment in queens for the past 3 weeks and have encountered the unpleasant hidden world of these deceitful, untactful and unethical professionals. Not only they lie, they take your money away - by easily earning a month's rent for commission but the new scheme is that they elevate the rent advertisement so that the landlords make more money, give them future openings (as they can count that if the apartment is listed for $1,700 a month, they can stretch it up a couple of hundreds) or the other technique is that they will tell the landlord that the tenant is willing to pay more if let's say the credit is not great!!! In three weeks, I have learned the different scams these people run from making you sign 'agreements' so that if you ever come across to the landlord directly, you will have to pay the commission to the one they list no FEE apartments and once you see the place, they tell you you need 3 months rent and want to try to make you believe that is standard. I am disgusted!!!!!!! Brokers, agents - I don't even know the difference anymore, compete each other for the quickest rental so the person who says Landlords use them because they screen the possible candidate, etc, is bull-crap!!! in many instances, brokers share fees and claim territories and bldgs as if there were their own. And it gets better! When they see that you know their scheme and ruin it for them, they will attack you and threaten you with taking you to court if you rent an apartment they have 'shown you' because showing an apartment means 'time and gas money' in brokers' language. But don't we all have to invest time and gas money or transportation to get to our jobs?? and aren't they allowed to write it off their taxes?? so what is so special about this profession? just as Jane said, it is an unethical profession! I wish there was a strict law that limited the fee these thieves charge to hard working citizens!!!!!!! it is ridiculous. Any tips anyone can share in my apartment hunt, it will be much appreciated. I will support your BrokerRevolt!!!!!!!!!!!!! count me IN!

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