People in New York City have been proclaiming the end of rental brokers and broker fees for rentals for many years now, and yet there are more rental agents then ever! Why is that? Quite simply, because apartments are hard to find, and people don't have the time it takes to acquire the knowledge to find the apartment they want.
But there are lots of people who DO have the time and DON'T have the money. These people have been served (at least up until now) by craigslist.org. Much remains to be seen with whether the owners' section becomes inundated with spam by brokers hoping to get a nibble. But meticulous searches (or using RSS) to craigslist definitely can yield some results. I think craigslist is the best free resource for sublets and roommate-finding, although Flatster is certainly good for that as well.
But what about people who can't afford a full broker fee, but don't have the time to find an apartment using the hunt-and-peck method of craigslist? These people, who would be willing to spend money to find a shortcut, have been poorly served by such "membership services" as Coastal Living and Easy Rent. These apartment information vendors are plagued with small amounts of market share - meaning that customers interested in a particular area and price range will find little to choose from.
THERE IS ONE apartment information vendor that has been gaining a LOT of market share, however. I have had glowing reviews from both landlords and tenants who have used it to find no-fee apartments. At $195, it isn't cheap, but from the results I've heard, this is a great way to find apartments. The service is called Rent Direct. This service has the largest marketshare of any online rental service that I have seen... it even lives up to its claims that it gets many landlords that brokers have.
Many... but not all. Brokers will always have some clout here in New York... there just isn't enough housing for everyone, and people will always be willing to pay to save time. But for those who aren't - or can't - try Rent Direct.
YOU WILL RECEIVE $15 OFF THE JOINING FEE BY ENTERING THE FOLLOWING CODE: edwardsre
So that's the big secret, and now it's out.
When I told some people about my intention of writing about this site, I was asked why I would "give away business". The answer is quite simple: I'm not. The people who will subscribe to this site are not willing to pay a broker fee. Will I lose out on some customers who might have ultimately HAD to pay a fee? Yes, but I wouldn't have felt good about taking their money, and they wouldn't have felt good about paying me. This way, I will get a tiny bit of money (yes, this is an affiliate program), but more importantly, I will receive real estate good karma. What is that? If you're active in real estate, you know!
For some people money is valuable. For others time is more valuable. And they are willing to pay to save time. It's that simple.