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Getting realtors' help on a very thorough apartment search
April 14, 2014 1:15 PM   Subscribe

I'm apartment hunting and it's really important for me to get a great apartment that satisfies all my requirements. Being comfortable in my home is crucial to my quality of life. So, I'm willing to put lots of time into my search, by seeing many apartments (more than would be usual) and spending a good amount of time looking at each one. I'm looking at fairly high-end places. The issue is that I don't want to wear out the realtors' patience. There are only a few realtors in my area, and they need to accompany me on each visit. They are showing me these apartments for free, since they only make money once I sign a lease. I want to make it worth their while so they don't get frustrated or impatient when I keep asking to see new apartments. I'm happy to pay them for their time, but don't know if that would be a good thing to suggest. Or maybe give them gifts to show my appreciation? Any advice would be welcomed.
posted by ElEmigrante to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
There are only a few realtors in my area, and they need to accompany me on each visit.

Is that true for sure? That wouldn't be the case in my city -- the property management of the apartment in question would give you a tour.
posted by kate blank at 1:17 PM on April 14


The Realtor knew what he or she was getting into when he or she became a Realtor and working for commission is one of them. I would just tell them up front what you told us. As to the gift or additional pay, that could be illegal. YMMV.
posted by brownrd at 1:20 PM on April 14 [2 favorites]


Yeah, this seems like one of those "it's not personal, it's business" types of situations. The realtor will have a much more accurate sense than you do of how much it costs him/her to keep you as an ongoing client, vs. how much they will likely benefit when you do sign on a place. Trust them to do that math themselves, and to cut you loose when it starts being a disadvantageous proposition for them. Don't forget that independently of the commission from your sale, they're also looking to benefit from your good reference/any referrals you might later pass their way.

If you wanted to make things easier for your realtor, you could (a) try as much as possible to narrow down your apartment criteria, so you can rule out the duds preemptively instead of putting the realtor through a long site visit; and (b) try to be a good sport about scheduling your visits with the realtor's schedule/ geography in mind.
posted by Bardolph at 1:22 PM on April 14 [2 favorites]


Make sure you're very, very clear about your non-negotiable requirements for an apartment so that the Realtor only shows you apartments that are actual contenders. Make it clear to your Realtor that you appreciate them and will write a good recommendation (maybe they're on Yelp or need a blurb for their website) and also suggest their services to your friends.

Also, it's not clear, but are you using more than one Realtor currently? That's not really fair as some will be left high and dry if you find your dream apartment through someone else.
posted by quince at 1:24 PM on April 14 [5 favorites]


It would be helpful to know where you are located (country or region, at least) and how large/small a city we're talking about.

Can you do some of the legwork yourself to save your broker from taking you to places you know you won't want?

If you live in a town small enough to only have a couple of realtors, there can't be that many diverse types of housing stock in the apartment market. Make a shortlist of the complexes, neighborhoods, building types, etc. you are willing to consider. Put together a realistic picture of what you're looking for, and give the realtor lots and lots of information.

Be aware, too, that -- especially in a small city -- there is a finite amount of apartments that exist.
posted by Sara C. at 1:27 PM on April 14


They are showing me these apartments for free, since they only make money once I sign a lease.

They're not showing them to you for free. They're showing them to you to make their fee. Showing people to a lot of apartments is their job. You don't have to apologize to them for asking them to do their job--and the better they are at their job, and the fewer apartments they show you (i.e., because they actually listened to your requirements), the faster they make their money. There is no need to apologize to them or give them gifts.

It seems odd to me that there are many apartments for you to see, but there are not many brokers to show them to you. That sounds like a market that is not working right.

Where are you looking?
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:27 PM on April 14


It took me a year and a half to find my condo. I gave the agent a gift card to an electronics store when I bought it
posted by brujita at 1:32 PM on April 14 [1 favorite]


What city is this? If it's New York, you're paying a broker fee.

You'd be hard put in Atlanta to find anyone to take you to apartments or houses. You could look on line and make your own appointments, but beyond that...no.

In the US, it's very regional and specific.

Where will the search take place?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:51 PM on April 14


Be very very clear about your specs. I find most realtors will just throw stuff at you because they want to close the deal ASAP, they aren't motivated to find you your perfect place.

Otherwise I'm on the "this is their job, don't feel bad" train.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 2:39 PM on April 14


Something to keep in mind is that if they are working on commission, they are intent on making sure you are happy with your purchase. Your long term happiness, even after you are settled, is very relevant to their long term success. They likely already consider the fact that for some clients, there is going to be more time involved. It's factored into the overall cost of doing business.*

That being said, letting them know that you are somewhat self-aware of the time involved and that you will certainly provide them a good reference online or to your friends would likely be a courtesy and a pretty good offset to whatever their time investment is. If they don't see this, then they aren't playing the long game, and you might want to get one of the other realtors.

*(To give you an idea how much this is the case, when we spent a whole lot of time finding our condo a few years ago, our realtor gave us restaurant gift cards worth $100 or so and a gigantic wreath for our front door.)
posted by SpacemanStix at 2:59 PM on April 14


I did want to caution you, in some places you won't have the time to be picky. If you like a place, you must move on it the moment you see it.

This would be true in really competative markets like NYC or San Francisco.

Can you pull the trigger, there and then, if you find a place that ticks all of your boxes, or will you need to compare to other places and rank them, and weigh the pros and cons. If so, you may want to come up with a different strategy because even if you do find your unicorn apartment, an inability to seize the moment on it, may result in your missing out.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:39 AM on April 15


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