Will a no-fee apartment save you money?

Apartments in New York City are expensive enough without additional fees. So searching for no-fee apartments sounds like a good idea. And in some cases, it is. However, you need to understand the details before you decide.

The fee we are discussing is the broker's fee. When a broker helps you find an apartment, you owe them a fee. There are exceptions, though. For example, the landlord/building owner sometimes pays the broker's fees. In that case, you would not be responsible for it.

But will you save money on a no-fee unit? Perhaps.

There are several points to consider:

  • The broker's fee is typically between eight and 15 percent of the year-long lease. At eight percent, you pay about a month's rent for the broker's fee. If you are already struggling to pay rent, paying out the equivalent of an extra month may not be possible right now.
  • Sometimes, even modest apartments billed as no-fee have a higher rent than similar apartments with a broker's fee. It is important to calculate which situation is more cost-effective for you.
  • Is the no-fee apartment in a new or semi-luxury complex? If so, you will most likely end up paying a higher rent for amenities such as a doorman, common lounges, rooftop decks, a fitness center or an in-unit washer/dryer. Are these extra perks worth it or would you be just as happy in an apartment without them?
  • Is hunting for a no-fee apartment prolonging your apartment search? You may be paying a rent you cannot afford in your current apartment. In this case, paying an eight percent broker's fee for a lower-rent unit may be the better choice. It depends on how long your search takes you.

Only you can decide whether paying the broker's fee will save you money over the long term. If possible, it may be a good idea to make the choice before your search begins.

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