Online Broker Fees: Are You Getting Ripped Off?

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Online Broker Fees: Are You Getting Ripped Off?

Staff Writer · Apr 29, 2011

Online broker fees are sometimes charged by online apartment search websites. They mirror the rental agent fees that a broker would charge if you dealt with him or her in person. A typical broker can charge anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of your rent total for an entire year. Consider whether or not you’re being ripped off with an online fee before you agree to pay one.

Step 1: Try Finding an Apartment with a Free Service

You won’t have to worry about whether or not the online broker fees you’re paying are a rip-off if you simply opt for a service that doesn’t charge any fees. Since you don’t always need a broker to find an apartment, you likewise don’t always need an online service that charges you. There are a number of free apartment search websites that help you research current vacancies.

Step 2: Consider the Extent of the Service

If you’re not having luck with a free website, you can try to use a site that charges online broker fees, as sometimes brokers will have an exclusive agreement to rent out certain properties. Before you agree to pay, though, you should read the small print and see exactly what you’re paying for. A broker that you meet in person – the kind who would charge you 10 to 15 percent – would ask you what you want in an apartment, arrange for showings for suitable apartments (if you’re able to tour apartments in the area) and help you negotiate your rental agreement when you decide on a place. If the online broker site only offers a fraction of these services, they have no businesses charging as much.

Step 3: Look for Flat Fees

One way to avoid being ripped off with online broker fees is to only patronize a service with a flat fee. That way, you know how much you’re paying upfront. Depending on the extent of service, $100 or less may be a fair deal.

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