Real estate brokers can kiss my ass

As of October 15th, 2006, my wife, my dog and I will be in our new apartment on Roosevelt Island, NYC. My 1.5 hour commute from Morristown, NJ is over.
Apartment hunting is never a fun process, and you always have to stay on point, ask the right questions and make sure you’re never getting suckered into anything. Many people turn to real estate brokers to do a lot of the leg work in finding the good apartments. Real estate brokers in Manhattan take approximately a 10-15% commission off of you. So if they find an property for you with a rent of say, $2000/month, this is the math:
$2000 x 12 months = $24,000 x .12 (12% commission) = $2,880
Maybe some of you are saying, “Eh, that’s not too bad.”
Fine, but remember that most of the time you’re going to have to factor in first and last months rent when you sign the lease:

first month: $2,000
last month: $2,000
broker commission: $2,880
total: $6,880
I don’t know about you, but I could use that $2,880.
This is my first apartment I’ve signed a lease on – as my last 5 years in the East Village were in a rent-controlled unit. In my experience with this, and a lot of help from my wife, I can’t justify the cost of a broker. It’s the same feeling I have about recruiters – Why do I need you, when I can just go right to the company for work?
My wife found our apartment on Craigslist. The complex we are moving into is called the Octagon and is completely new, with tons of amentities (gym, laundry, parking, tennis courts, doorman, elevators) that would be impossible to find for same money in Manhattan (or Brooklyn for that matter). I read the listing, called their leasing office and worked out all the details.
I can see a day when a broker will come in handy, but I recommend that people use the free resources out there before contacting one. Aside from Craigslist, ask friends in the area you plan to move to, and another great resource is the company you will be working for. There’s always other people out there moving too, you’re not the only one.