I went through two weeks of apartment hunting not long ago, and although we ended up deciding to stay put, I feel like I broke a little bit of the vicious cycle in the renter-broker power struggle. The illustration above basically sums it up (mouse over to see the AFTER), but for the more detailed story…
I had two bad experiences and two good ones:
1. The one that cussed me out (kind of)
I had booked a number of viewings out in Brooklyn one Sunday — three in a row. After I had finished my first viewing, I received a call from a broker whose name wasn’t familiar to me, confirming an appointment I supposedly had with her that day. I did not remember her at all and asked her to refresh my memory as to what listing she represented, explaining that I emailed at least thirty people in two days to request viewings. After she told me, I remembered the listing and the original woman I spoke to, but this was someone else, an associate of hers she handed me off to. But I still didn’t remember her name or that we had an appointment that day. She mentioned something about it being really hard to get an appointment with this apartment building, basically asking me to make the time. I had to decline to meet with her as I had two other viewings lined up. I apologized, and because I felt bad, I said that if I had time afterwards and she was still and available, we could meet. To my surprise, this is what she said:
“I asked for special favors and pulled strings to get this appointment, and so when you double-booked, you screwed up my day. Okay, bye.”
It turns out that this was my fault, because 4 days later at work, I saw a post-it note, buried under piles of paper, and on it was my handwriting: the broker’s email address, 1:30pm sunday. But take note of these facts:
• I contacted about twenty brokers in two days (because over the years, I’ve learned that sometimes you just need to be tired enough from seeing all the bad apartments to recognize the good one when you see it)
• I had to find time between (overtime at) work and home to look at places, and spend the rest of my time at home going through more listings.
• It’s also been a common experience of mine that when a broker is available to meet, to make it a point to email me, as well as call me the day before to confirm our appointment.
• This broker rescheduled with me on a Thursday evening as I was rushing to get out of work, printed listings in hand, so I could make it to Brooklyn in time for my other appointments. Thursday to Sunday. She didn’t email or call the day before to confirm.
Maybe it’s still my fault in the end, but somehow I didn’t forget all the other appointments I made that Sunday. Added to that, every email I received from this broker/company was done through an anonymous padlister account that formatted it in a way that made it hard for me to take seriously.
2. The one that got sassy on me
Again, was this my fault for misunderstanding or his for asking me to meet with him to sign something before I even saw the apartment, or before even telling me what the exact address! It was really starting to get to me, how a number of brokers didn’t understand that I need to see a link/photos/exact location of the place before taking the time out to view it. But they seem to be on another plane because a number of the ones I emailed wanted us to meet up and discuss what I was looking for so they could show me listings in their portfolio. I have done this two times before and it has never gone well. Both times left me exhausted and feeling like they wasted my day and I wasted theirs.
3. The sympathetic one
Each time I email a broker, I can’t help but express my frustrations about the entire process — that it’s not working for anyone — in the hopes that I’ll find that one broker who feels the same way. And together, we can change the (apartment hunting) world! I haven’t gotten that far yet, but for now, I just wanted to know that there was hope. That there are good brokers, sympathetic to our needs. And that I could find them.
4. The appreciative one
This last broker was unlike all the others in that she could anticipate what it was we didn’t like about a place. She showed us one in the East village, and very casually said, “C’mon guys, tell me what you think so I know what I’m looking for.” To which I replied: “We’d like something that’s more…” “Open,” she finished, and nodded knowingly. She asked us questions that made sense such as neighborhoods we were looking at in order of priority, etc. She wasn’t pushy at all, and asked that if we hadn’t found an apartment yet that weekend, when our next free day was. She also very honestly requested that if we did find a place to let her know. She was obviously very busy and worked very hard, but was still very personable. What made me trust her was that she was honest about what she thought about the place she was showing us. Some brokers just have a poker face, and act as if everything’s fine when the places sucks, and there is a dead cockroach in the tub.
from ._. http://bit.ly/OruiqY