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Confessions of a Boston Rental Agent

Hoh boy. BostInnovation has published the observations of Boston broker John Keith.

First, you are being screwed:

I worked in a rental office for the first two years after I earned my license. Actually, “earned” might be too strong a word, as all it takes to be licensed in Massachusetts is completion of a 40-hour class and a 100-question exam. My co-workers at that agency usually showed a customer just three apartments: a bad one, a mediocre one, and a great one. Guess which one was most-expensive? Guess which one the customer inevitable chose? Even easier was the decision when the customer was a college kid who came in with his or her parents. Inevitably, the parents would always choose the nicest/cleanest apartment, even if it was hundreds of dollars above their originally set price.

The rental office was the equivalent of a boiler room, chop shop, if you will. Get ‘em in, get ‘em out. Why waste time showing a customer half a dozen apartments? Why let the customer decide which one he or she likes?

Do remember, though, that it isn't all the agent's fault:

Most rental agents in Boston would be happy to show you a beautiful apartment with a nice, updated kitchen and bath, a sink that drains, a refrigerator that doesn’t hum, windows that shut completely and radiators that emit heat without making ridiculously-loud knocking sounds – all for $1,200 a month. But these places just don’t exist. So, the agent has no choice but to show you junk and make you like it.

Keith only grazes a possible solution to the madness: staying put.

Yes, you’re paying the broker’s fee, but at the end of the day, the agent works on behalf of the landlord. ...

When you’re looking for an apartment, it’s best to have a plan in place and keep focused on your ultimate goal: finding a place to live. With patience (and a lot of luck), it will all work out for you in the end.

Well, at least until next year, when your landlord threatens to raise your rent another $300, and you decide to go hunting for another apartment.

Why not, then, stay put and pay the $300 more? That translates to $3,600 a year, which is less than the cost of a standard 15 percent broker's fee on a $1,500 apartment plus moving costs (which we'll presume range to at least $1,000 for a fully furnished place). There—and we won't even charge you anything.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: The Inside Scoop on Renting an Apartment in Boston [BostInnovation]