No-fee apartments for rent in NYC
4,654 No-fee rentals in NYC
What is a No Fee Apartment in NYC?
Defining a no fee apartment should be simple enough, right? They’re just listings with no broker fee. But it’s not quite so simple as an apartment can not have a fee for a variety of reasons. It could direct from the landlord, or there might be a broker fee that is being covered by the landlord. In some instances, the landlord might not offer additional concessions, like a free month of rent if they’re covering the fee. In other cases, the same apartment might not have a fee if you go directly to the source but might carry a fee if you’re working with a broker.
Understanding the different types of No Fee Rentals
Generally speaking, you’ll find two main types of no fee apartments in New York City. The first, and most common are what is known in the real estate industry as OP or “Owner Pays” listings. Essentially, the landlord or management company is offering to pay the broker fee. There are two types of OP listings. Those with an exclusive listing agent, and open listings, where any broker can bring a client and collect the OP. In the former, the property is listed and marketed by one exclusive agent, and that agent is solely entitled to the OP. Generally, this agent is representing the owner of a co-op or condo, and you’ll need to contact him or her directly. If you’re working with another agent, they’ll probably expect to collect their own fee. The other, more common type of owner pays listing is what is known as an open listing. Open listing means that any number of agents can advertise the apartment, and not all open listings are no fee. For the ones that are the landlord or management company is offering to pay the broker fee to whoever brings the renter. You can think of this as a sort of bounty.
Finally, the second type of no fee apt listing you’ll find in NYC is a direct by owner listing, also known as an FRBO (for rent by owner). Sometimes these are hard to come by listings from small landlords or owners of individual condo apartments. Still, oftentimes these are open listings, which will only be no fee if you go to the owner or management company directly but will have a fee if a broker brings you there. This is especially common in cheaper walk-up buildings where landlords are confident in their own ability to attract a tenant, but also don’t mind allowing brokers to market it and bring a tenant who covers their commission.
So wouldn’t going to the landlord directly be better than using a broker to find a no fee rental?
That depends. A broker can be a useful tool for you, and the main questions you should be asking yourself are 1) Do you have a good broker representing you, and 2) How well do you understand the NYC rental market? Other relevant questions are 3) How much value do you put on your time, and 4) Do you already know what buildings and neighborhoods you’re interested in?
For example, if you value your free time highly, you’ll almost certainly be better off working with a broker. Similarly, if you’re not familiar with the nuances of the New York City real estate market, you’ll certainly benefit from having an experienced professional helping you. A good way to think of this is to compare it to buying or baking a birthday cake. Working with a real estate pro is like going to a bakery and ordering a cake. It might end up costing you a bit more, but you know what you’re getting. Alternatively, you can always bake the cake, and depending on your experience with baking, you might save a bit of money. But it’ll take up a lot of time, and it’s unlikely that you’ll get a better result than if you had bought. There’s even the risk that you mess things up and end up having to pay more to correct your mistakes.
How can working with an agent help me find a no fee apt in NYC?
NYC rental agents don’t have the best reputation and for good reason. Many will try to pressure you into a deal at all costs, as they chase a fat commission check. Working with a bad agent is not worth it, even if you’re not paying a fee, as there’s no guarantee you get into a great apartment. The right agent, however, will save you a lot of time and potential headaches. In the long run, choosing the right agent can save you quite a bit of money as well. Why? Because a good realtor knows the market, and will only show you the best listings in quality buildings, while also having existing relationships with landlords and management companies to help you lock down a place quickly, even if there’s competition from other renters. You should also remember that if your goal is to find a no fee apartment, the right agent will be your number one advocate. It’s not uncommon for a landlord or property manager to make false claims, and having a professional in your corner, looking out for your interests, will help protect you. Good agents know that they can collect an OP on a variety of listings in all types of buildings so they won’t be inclined to pressure you or make false promises the way a building agent might if you were to visit a property on your own. They prefer to set you up in a wonderful place that you’ll be happy in, with the hope that you work with them in the future or refer business their way.
So how do you find a good no fee broker?
This isn’t that tricky as you can use Google to look up the reputation of anyone you’re considering working with. Generally speaking, if they have good reviews on sites like Yelp and if their firm is also well-reviewed, you’re likely in good hands. Another tip is to work only with REBNY members as they are generally held to much stricter advertising practices. If you come across a bait-and-switch listing, it’s almost always going to be from a non-REBNY firm.
Can I get a better deal on a no fee apartment if I don’t use a broker?
It used to be that you couldn’t, but nowadays that’s changing. You see, landlords used to rely on brokers to bring them clients, and they understood that alienating agents would have negative consequences. Going back to the early 2010’s it was highly unusual to ever see concessions like OP or 1 Month free, but now that’s more commonplace. So that means that working with an agent might effectively cost you a rent concession, the most common being a free month of rent. If you’re interested in getting a deal on the monthly rent however, your best bet is to have an agent. Trying to negotiate the rental price directly will likely get you nowhere while an agent who has an existing relationship with the property can generally get you a small discount.
In conclusion, we’d recommend finding a good agent to work with if you want to save time or are unfamiliar with the market. You’ll get extra peace of mind, and the entire experience will likely be far more pleasant. If, however, you’re familiar with the market and you want to try to get the best deal possible, or if you already know the specific building you want to be in, you don’t really need an agent and might be able to get a sweet concession by renting directly.