10 Dirty Little Secrets That Apartment Brokers in NYC Don't Want You to Know

If you haven't noticed by now, brokers are not among our favorite people in the world.

In fact, brokers aren't just conniving swindlers who scheme to show people apartments outside their price range all day long. They're not just all about putting on the pressure for you to sign before you're ready.

New York City brokers actually have some very specific tactics they use to squeeze New Yorkers for every penny.

New York City brokers actually have some very specific tactics they use to squeeze New Yorkers for every penny.

Now, we don't want you to fall prey to these tricks. We're looking out for you. Let's face it: we've all been burned by at least one of these, so we've listed them out below so you'll know them when you see them.


As an alternative to all of this you could just use Oliver, the no-fee broker replacement app. With Oliver you can browse tons of apartments, and you'll never have to face down a broker again. 

Oliver shows you apartments that are actually on the market, accurate pictures of those actual apartments, and, again, you don't have to pay any of those exorbitant brokerage fees. 

Sounds pretty excellent to us, but still, you deserve to know what dirty tricks brokers have been pulling for years. 

Read on to find out what they are. Then, download the Oliver app here

1. Not being upfront about moving costs

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When you move, you might have to pay extra security, and you might have to pay first and last month's rent. You might have to pay other fees too.

Brokers would never do something so honest as be upfront about these fees. They don't want you to know about all these charges until they've already roped you in.

Plenty of brokers will wait until you've fallen in love with an apartment, until you've taken steps to finalize a deal for one, until it's basically too late for you to back out, and then they'll reveal all these fees. 

Thanks for nothing, brokers.

2. Not disclosing who pays the broker fee until lease signing

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Who pays the broker fee? Is it the renters? Is it the landlord?

Your sneaky broker might be very vague about these details. They might entirely under-exaggerate the cost of the broker fee. Then, you're sitting there at your lease signing, and they say, "That'll be $5,000 please," like it's no big deal.

You've got the lease in front of you and you've got your pen poised to sign. Backing out at this point would be a ton of wasted strife. So, with tears in your eyes, you just pay it.

Again, with Oliver, you're not paying this fee at all. 

3. Posting "by owner" listings on various search sources

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You thought you were going to go on an apartment search and find an apartment without a broker?

Yeah, good luck with that. On the surface, it all seems well and good, but when you call the listings for each apartment, there's a broker on the other end.

The broker will bring you to the apartment and show it to you, but you'll have to pay a broker's fee at the end of the day. 

You thought you were going to find an apartment on one of those sites without a broker? Nice try. They're overrun with brokers masquerading as owners.

4. Using pictures from Google searches to advertise an apartment

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Oh, really, brokers? You went on Google, grabbed a street view screenshot of the apartment, and threw that next to a screenshot of the map, and that's what, doing us a favor?

Cool. We didn't want to know what the inside of the apartment looked like anyway. What was your plan here? For us to project the best apartment we could think of from our imaginations into reality?

Either way, it's not working. It's not only sneaky, it shows ineptitude. Do your job better, and get interior pictures. Thanks.

5. "Double dipping"

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Yeah, some brokers collect a fee from both the landlord and the renter.

They tell the renter they owe a broker's fee, and they tell the landlord they owe a broker's fee. All this leaves the broker with double the fee.

Solve this problem by asking the landlord if they paid a brokers fee, too. If so, call the broker out. You shouldn't both be paying. Then again, just don't pay the brokers fee by using the Oliver app.

6. "Good faith deposit"

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It's so casual and simple! The apartment you want has already been rented by someone else? No problem! 

Just pay a fee to the broker, and if the apartment opens up, they'll get you right in there. You'll be next in line if the renter changes their minds.

Nope, the broker keeps this fee. This isn't a real thing, and it's stealing, plain and simple. Don't pay one.

7. Charging extra for credit check

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You have to get a credit check, right? So they know if you're good for the rent money?

Well, sadly, brokers will charge you more than the credit check actually costs, and they'll pocket the difference. We mean it. This happens.

Find out how much the credit check costs before you fork over the amount of money the broker says. Don't blindly trust them, because they're not trustworthy.

8. Not disclosing full address

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The apartment is a sixth floor walk-up, but the broker didn't tell you that. They didn't mention any of those details on the listing.


Once you're already at the apartment, though, you might as well go up, even though you might not have agreed to come if you knew how steep the stairs were. You're not a mountain climber after all.

It's leaving out crucial details like this that make us very, very angry at  brokers. They might also lie about the apartment's neighborhood to, again, rope you in with their tricks. 

They'll say Upper West Side, but it's actually West Harlem. Honest mistake, right? NYC neighborhoods are confusing, right? If helping people find apartments is your job, shouldn't you have a solid grasp of where and what these apartments actually are? Just a thought...

9. Promising upgrades the management has never agreed to

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You're bummed there's no washing machine? Oh, they'll have one put in! You don't like the color of the shelving? No problem! They'll get on that right away!

Once you've signed for the apartment and the broker's pocketed the broker's fee, it doesn't matter to them whether you get your new shelf or your washing machine. They'll say whatever it takes to get you to sign, and then duck out.

If you find a broker that's making too many promises about the apartment, you should make sure those promises check out.

10. Purposely show you a bad apartment at no fee

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Yup. Brokers will show you the worst, smallest, dirtiest apartment for no fee. They'll say something like, "this is what you'll get it you don't pay a fee."

So then the trusting, unsuspecting New Yorker will think, "oh, this must be the only kind of place I can get for no fee." That New Yorker will think, "I better just buck up and pay that fee."

Except, there are plenty of nice apartments with no fees. This broker just decided not to show them to you, because this broker wants your money. Surprise, surprise.

Make Sure You Download the Oliver App Here. 

[Feature Image Courtesy Pinterest] 

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