According to Scott Van Voorhis (“Beacon Hill Battles Over Renter Rights,” Banker & Tradesman, Feb. 7, 2022), “A key part of the new renter protections is an effort stamp out a dubious practice, popular among some larger apartment building owners in Boston and beyond, of offloading their broker fees onto prospective tenants.” This statement rejects a consumer’s right to choose and will negatively impact the real estate industry.
As a property owner and manager, I market apartments online, schedule tours with prospective residents, and assist with the leasing process. This is the bread and butter of our business. When a real estate agent locates one of my apartments for their client and requests to tour, I will accommodate and provide them access. However, it’s their client that pays their fee.
If these fees are pushed onto property owners, there will be several unintended consequences; one of which is that we just won’t allow brokers to lease our units. As a result, real estate agents will lose income and renters who may be busy and need assistance locating and touring an apartment in a hot market will be out of luck. They will have to tour on our schedule.
The alternative is that rents will become more expensive as these fees get built into the price. This has already happened with the real estate industry when it comes to buying and selling. The truth is that agents’ fees are never free, and it’s deceptive to have them built into a price. There is a current federal investigation into the National Association of Realtors for exactly this type of price-fixing meant to restrict consumers’ options.
Multifamily property owners are not the same as homeowners, though. We work in this industry, and have far less of a need for these services as we provide them ourselves. The far more likely outcome is that we simply will not allow brokers to lease our apartments, so it’s their commission that’s on the line. Agents offer an optional service and multifamily owners are correct that it should stay that way.
— Danielle McCullough, Boston