5 Reasons I Hated Being a Rental Real Estate Agent
I just want to state that I love the real estate business. It started midway through college and it hasn't left my thoughts since then. I've been educating myself on the subject for months and took my first chance it when I joined a NYC Brokerage in Midtown Manhattan in the 3rd quarter of 2012. Weeks after graduating college I got my license and started my journey as a NYC rental agent. There are many parts to the Real Estate business but I decided to begin here. It it now a Love/Hate relationship.
This article is about the hate.
*As stated in the summary, these are not only my experiences- some are of colleagues but I'm
writing in 1st person.
Manhattan Apartments eBook
Everything is Negotiable
Everything being negotiable is fine so long as it isn't abused. Yes 'Potential Tenant', you are able to negotiate prices, amenities, and even the broker fee. I want you to know that and more (eBook to the right). I do not want you to abuse It because you know some brokers literally NEED to close apartments to survive. They don't get paid unless they close deals and, unfortunately, that depends largely on you 'Potential Tenant'.
Friends and family believe your time is free (lol). Well not all, but some. I guess this is true for anyone starting a business or does freelance work. I did offer a 3% discount for people referred by people I knew from high school or college. Once again, because they weren't educated on the prices or percentages, they didn't see 12% as a "hook up". One particular client was referred by a close friend and they were just getting out of "college" (so was I ) so I only charged them 10%. I really didn't mind it but I had to make sure they knew how much of a discount.
Fleeting Clients (Uneducated)
This is the sister title to the persecution.
Because of the assumption that realtors are evil, people tend to misuse their services. Some clients literally use realtors for their resources and then refuse to pay them.
For Instance: My colleague once met a guy in a coffee shop who responded to his midtown apartment ad. My colleague asked how long he'd been looking, when does he want to move in and if he has looked in this area before. All great questions that help save time. The guy tells his story and mentions that he saw something in the area the other day with his friend who is a realtor. Then continues to say he's not sure if he's going to find the apartment he wants today (before they even saw the apartments) and he will "consult his friend"- womp!
My colleague was skeptical but he had a form that would protect both of them but the guy refused to sign it. My colleague politely removed himself from the situation.
SIDE NOTE: For soon to be Realtors in NYC... If you aren't a fan of heights remember that you will be viewing apartments on the 30th and 40th floor at times. Usually really nice but don't look down.
Walking (walk-ups, blocks, and avenues)
Yes, I am a New Yorker but even a New Yorker has their limits. Interestingly enough walking New York streets and avenues for hours wasn't the issue. Walking up and down all the pre war buildings on the Upper Eastside and sprinkled across the city is what actually sucked. All types of buildings and heights, I think the highest was 6 floors walk-up- not fun. There were Steep stairs, marble stairs, broken elevators and fire escapes (sike! I never had to walk up fire
You may think "you were always taking clients out"- to that I will say, nope. Don't get me wrong I did very well, but the majority of walking happens while canvassing. What's canvassing Canvassing is basically doing physical research in a specific neighborhood (Definition from wiki). You are trying to understand the neighborhood and know what's available in that area.
You need to know he prices, take pictures for marketing purposes and even knowing the people (like doormen) and surrounding business's to explain to your client the neighborhood they are moving into. The worse was when I needed to bring a client to an apartment that I
needed take a train to midtown to the management company before seeing the apartment to get the key. Even if you are just canvassing you need to get the key from the management office which maybe by the Empire State Building and the apartment is in Harlem.
After leaving your office, getting the key, and showing a client you have to return the key before the office closes. What's the consequence? The $25 or whatever they made you leave behind incase you don't come back.
Depending on the apartment (location, price point or circumstances) they may allow you to keep the key until the next day. Sometimes over the weekend.
Much to my surprise, people tend to dislike realtors, especially in the NYC rental market. If you are unaware of what I'm talking about let me fill you in (find link or resource) people often refer to realtors as sleazy, unethical "car salesmen", liars, scammers, etc.
To be honest I did hear a little of this before I got my license but I didn't think too much of it. Why should I have? There are so many professions and practices that have negative reputations but are usually awesome and positive to another group of people.
I personally have seen this split perception in other professions from Banking to Online Businesses. Also, just because other people may be dishonest or sleazy doesn't mean I need to be; I could be the exception, not the rule. Unfortunately you don't just get that opportunity because once you get clients from a third party search engine you are an unknown entity, not a human being, so you will be treated as such.
People have pre-perceived thoughts and are walking into the situation with skepticism which is understandable at first (any new situation should be thought out and proceeded with caution). But, once you've been honest, punctual and helpful there should be no confusion or doubt about how you conduct business.
So, because people have this idea of what you do or who you are some are automatically defensive. Others are aggressive in "beating you to the chase" in screwing you over! When you had no intention of screwing them over.
How could a client screw you over? Clients can use you to do the research, take them to the apartment(s), then they go back to the apartment or call the management company without consulting you. This is why most realtors don't reveal the exact address before you meet with them at the apartment.
Rental Marketing Arenas (Guerrilla Marketing)
The Wild Wild West!
Marketing properties on NYC Real Estate search engines is lawless.
Ok, lawless is a bit of an exaggeration. There are rules, just not regulated and/or has loop holes. Craigslist is a gift and a curse. Since this article is about what I hated lets look at the cons. So these are the things I hate about marketing NYC apartments.
- I hated the continuous stream, much like a hate twitters continuous stream (My Twitter :) )
- I hate poor descriptions
- I hate that realtors have to pay to post ads
- I hate that people can post any apartment (like even if they didn't canvass it. Just copy & paste. Its plagiarism)
- I hate hidden email addresses (that's a general hate, this is not just for Real Estate Craigslist post)
- I hate bad/blurry pics of apartments
- I hate the bait&switch that gives realtors a bad name
Ok, that's enough for now. I just had to vent a bit. It's not just Craigslist that has these issue but it's the worse of the options but it's also the best (Craigslist is cool) when looking for deals. Other sources like NakedApartments.com have the same issue with duplicate (copy&paste) posts but they attempt to regulate it. Still the bait & switch can't be prevented because sometimes the realtor has no idea the property they posted recently closed.
We, NewYorkers or soon to be NewYorkers , have to realize that apartments are not technology. It is a brick & mortar Business where the transactions don't happen electronically. They are many people involved in the process and updating the MLS is the least of their worries.
Still I can't wait for them (the real estate gods) to fix this issue because its been haunting New Yorkers for years and giving rental realtors a bad name (although some deserve it).