Money for nothing moves agents in dire straits

One of the many dirty little secrets of the rental services business is that landlords sometimes pay more than one month’s rent as a commission. They might offer an extra half-a-month bonus or a fixed additional dollar amount to the renting agent. Another dirty little secret is that rental agents, who are paid only on commission, are often desperate for a payday and eager to steer you to an apartment that pays them more. Low earnings are but one of the reasons for the high turnover in the industry.

In an earlier post we suggested that you negotiate for a rebate of half of the typical commission of one month’s rent if you’re using a rental agent. A $1,000 rebate is worth bargaining for on a $2,000 a month rental. If the landlord is paying a month-and-a-half commission, a $2,000 rebate is even better.

You should always inquire into what commission a landlord is paying for each apartment you view, and be deeply suspicious when an agent appears anxious to steer you / pressure you into any apartment.

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