Apartments via Realtor in Boston
May 20, 2005 5:36 AM   Subscribe

BostonRealty: My lease ends in September and a friend and I are planning on moving in together. We need a new place. We both work full time (and then some) and have some pretty specific requirements. Should we be having a realtor help us look?

We're in Lower Allston now, and don't want to wander too far from there, as it's a convenient place for both of us to get to work from.

I'm wondering:

Will our limited area of search affect the effectiveness of a realtor looking for a place for us? (for better or worse?)

In your experience, have realtors been worth the expense? Have you found a better place, faster, than you think you would have if you were searching in your free time after work and on weekends? Was the realtor's fee worth keeping your nights and weekends more free to do other things?

Which realtors have you had good/bad experiences with?
posted by ThePants to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
September is still 3 months and a bit away, realtor/agents would have knowledge of properties becoming available around the time you want to move, I imagine that if you were searching on the net, it would take longer to find something especially if you have specific requirements.

Does the realtor continue to manage the property after the lease is signed?. In Oz the landlord pays the agents fees/commission not the tenant. For tenants in Oz, agents are good option.
posted by Chimp at 6:16 AM on May 20, 2005

Robocop and I found our place (in Somerville) through a combination of a realtor and craigslist. When we were looking around, I was annoyed with the realtor's bait and switch tactics- we told them what we were willing to pay for a 2 bedroom, they took us to a super-crappy apartment and said that was what we could expect within our price limits, then they took us to a gorgeous, big place that was "only" a couple extra hundred a month over our limit. The realtor we ultimately used from Craigslist was ok, and we found an apartment that we love, which we probably wouldn't have found otherwise (our landlord totally sucks, but that's a different story).

I've heard some bad things about realtors in Allston, but it will definitely save you some time to use one. I believe there's a livejournal community called boston_housing or some such, it may be worth checking in with that just to see if anyone has a horror story about any particular realtors you want to use.

Also, some realtor fees are paid by landlords, it depends on how desperate they are to rent, but it's always worth a shot at negotiating that.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 6:46 AM on May 20, 2005

I recently moved from Cambridge/Somerville to Brookline. We wanted to move on May 1st so we began looking in early March. We had some specific requirements as well, but figured we had 6-7 yrs of apartment searching practice in the Boston area to do it ourselves. It sucked.

Craigslist is great for roommates, but there's not as many "for sale by owners" as I would have thought. The plethora of realtors in the Boston area clogged the list with their own postings. To make it worse, Boston is an open market so many apartment listings were duplicates (even though the descriptions were wildly different) of the same apartments listed by different realtors. Some would charge a fee, some wouldn't - but you never were quite sure until you were on the phone with them.

As banjo stated, be prepared for the bait and switch. Many times I would call a realtor about a specific apartment "New to the market just today just this very minute!!!" and be told it didn't exist, but they had some other lovely apartments to show us. We asked specifically to not be shown any apartments on Comm Ave and as soon as we met up with a realtor wouldn't you know...they would have a lovely apartment on Comm Ave they wanted us to see because we would just love it to bits the minute we walked through the door. I didn't appreciate it.

Take your time, check Craigslist often and if you feel skeezed out by a realtors ad - stay away. We found that our best instincts about the realtors were usually right on. September is tough around here so do as much work now as you can. When we were looking in March and April all the realtors we talked to were complaining about how many people were looking for September places already.

Good luck.
posted by Constant Reader at 7:22 AM on May 20, 2005

first: Boston (and other cities) Craigslist ads superimposed on Google Maps - very helpful if you have a good idea of where you want to live.

second: If you use a realtor, you'll have to pay a full month's rent as a fee. Given how high rent is here in Boston, I've never been able to stomach that, and have always found no-fee apartments rented by the landlord. Pluses here are that you know the landlord is involved with the property (they're actually going to the trouble of showing the place instead of shunting it out to a realtor) and you find a lot of landlord-occupied places. Not good if you want to trash the place and throw huge parties; good if you want a well-maintained house that hasn't been lived in by frat boys for ten years.

Also, if there's any way you can move a month earlier/later, do it. September is the worst. Good luck!
posted by bobot at 7:24 AM on May 20, 2005

What is it about Allston that makes you want to stay in that area?

I abhor Allston, and one of the main reasons is dealing with the local realtors/housing situation. I got jerked around big time. Many of the Allston realtors own their own buildings so they're really just property management salesmen and can be pretty dang pushy. Plus they end up getting a month's rent for a few hours worth of work, which is pretty lame. Because they're used to dealing with students who are paying with Mom and Dad's money, not their own, they don't want to take the time to show a variety of places.

Also, if possible, get off the September lease schedule. It makes things so much easier when it comes to actually moving, looking for places (places are cheaper!), and getting a realtor's attention. If you can't, the sooner you can lock down a place, the better.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:33 AM on May 20, 2005

Response by poster: Bobot: That is AWESOME


We're aware that September is a rough month to move, but he's stuck in a lease he can't afford to break. That's why we're starting now.

He takes the 66 bus to work in Brookline, and I prefer taking the Red Line to S. Boston, so Lower Allston, being a 20 min walk to Harvard, and right on the 66 line works well for both of us.

Thanks for all your comments so far!
posted by ThePants at 9:56 AM on May 20, 2005

Can you afford to overlap rent, start the new place in August and he stays in his lease until September? I find having the extra time to move can reduce the stress of moving, if you can afford it.

I haven't heard of using realtors to find rentals here on the West Coast. I thought realtors were just for home buying/selling. Is that an East Coast thing?
posted by matildaben at 4:26 PM on May 20, 2005

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