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Old 07-02-2012, 12:55 PM
 
23 posts, read 69,967 times
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Some rental ads in Cambridge I've been looking at - both on Craigslist and on the sites of some agents - say the fee is negotiable.

Does anyone know what this means in practice? What is the starting point of the negotiation? 1 month fee or 1/2 month fee? I understand negotiations with the landlord but I don't see what concessions the agent can make to justify a higher/lower fee.

Anyone been through this?
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Old 07-03-2012, 08:41 AM
 
38 posts, read 46,070 times
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In practice I found it's not really negotiable, they already have an idea in their head what they'll settle on but that'll only go higher if you start too high. If they set themselves up for haggling, just start by saying you want no fee.

Ideally it would mean half months fee but it might just mean a hundred or two off.
You can negotiate no doubt and they'll tell you what a "favor" they're doing for you but when it comes down to it, I've found they will just hold you over a barrel and say some college students daddy is offering double what you are so you better accept now.

It's a tough market, really favors the landlords. For the life of me I still can't understand how college students who don't exactly like to work their way through college can insist on having their own apartments right near the campuses. It drives to prices sky high due to the demand. I'm working with a decent salary but I can't even keep up with what they students will pay, it's madness. Where I'm from student living usually meant sharing an old house with multiple people or commuting in from the suburbs but not around here unfortunately.
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Old 07-05-2012, 02:01 PM
 
Location: Brookline, MA
613 posts, read 1,312,961 times
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The fee for a rental agent is one months fee. There's no such thing as a "no fee" apartment from an agent. No fee just means no fee charged to the incoming tenant because the landlord is paying the fee. 1/2 fee means that the landlord has agreed to pay 1/2 and the agent is expected to get the other 1/2 from the tenant.

Negotiable means a lot of things but usually means that the landlord has experienced some willingness to pay some part of the fee (often 1/2). Whether the landlord will pay often depends on how much interest there is in the apartment, how qualified you are (do you have perfect credit with a great paying job or do you have some credit dings and don't make a lot). Also, some renters will try to negotiate on the rent amount or move in date (e.g., if the apartment is available Aug 1, but you can't move til Aug 15 or want Sept 1, it's less likely that the landlord is going to make any concessions on the fee). So negotiable usually relates to the landlord.

However, the agent may have some willingness to negotiate too. If the apartment is expensive and therefore, the fee high (like $2500+), the agent may be willing to take a hit on the full month's fee because there is still money to be made (but don't forget that it doesn't all go to the agent, the "house" (the agent's office) usually takes 40-50%). The "house" may have final say on the negotiation so it may not really be up to the individual agent unless it's coming out of their cut.

If the fee is advertised as negotiable, you're certainly not out of line to ask. But do so when looking at the apt, not when filling out your application. Ask whether the fee can be 1/2 and go from there.

Again, a lot will depend on how well qualified you are and if you're asking for any other concessions as well as how much interest there is in the apartment and how well qualified the other people are and what they're asking for. Same with the agent. They work purely on commission so they're not going to want to constantly negotiate and lose money especially if there is a lot of interest in a place.
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