You have access to basically all the same information as your broker
“These days, everything is available on Streeteasy.com,” says Triplemint agent Julie Gans. “If you’re searching at the same time as [a broker], you’re usually seeing the listings at the same time as [them].”
In fact, if you meet certain criteria, there’s arguably no reason to use a broker at all. According to Triplemint agent Josh Heyer, if you have previously rented in New York, have a deep knowledge of New York City neighborhoods, and have unlimited time to search, you should save at least one month’s rent by finding an apartment without a middleman. That being said, if any of those factors are off, it’s a good idea to enlist the help of an expert.
A good broker will weed out anything that wouldn’t work for reasons that might not be obvious on StreetEasy or Craigslist. For example, you may find an affordable studio on the Lower East Side that looks great, but not realize that you’ll have to pay a number of unlisted costs, like multiple security deposits, or provide a guarantor upfront. “Occasionally, these kinds of policies are listed on [a management company’s website],” Heyer adds. “But not frequently.”
A well-connected real estate agent should also be able to find you at least a few exclusive listings. “A good broker should know management companies in your target neighborhood that don’t actively advertise to the public,” Heyer says.