The Daily Dirt: The fight over broker fees 

Brokers object to perception of their services

Photo Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty and Grace Boak/REBNY
Photo Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty and Grace Boak/REBNY

Outside City Hall, agents held up signs demanding, “Don’t Raise the Rents.”

Inside City Hall Park, venture capitalist Bradley Tusk enumerated the ways that the legislation at issue made economic sense. 

On its surface, the scene is a bit topsy-turvy: Real estate professionals warning that landlords will hike rents, while a pro-business consultant argues on the other side of the issue. 

I overheard a passerby encapsulate this weirdness, when he posited that the rally had something to do with rent control: He assumed that the real estate professionals were fighting for it. 

In fact, this was a rally held before a City Council hearing to consider a bill that will change how rental broker fees are paid. The measure dubbed the FARE Act (an imperfect acronym for Fairness in Apartment Rentals Act), would require whoever hires the rental broker to pay the broker’s fee. Typically tenants are on the hook for the fee, which is usually 15 percent of the annual rent. 

Proponents say it will free tenants from exorbitant moving costs, while the Real Estate Board of New York argues that landlords will pass those costs onto tenants by raising monthly rent. 

Tensions bubbled up during the hearing, in part, because some agents felt that proponents of the bill were disparaging their livelihoods as little more than people who open doors for would-be tenants. That wasn’t helped by a video on TikTok where Council member Chi Ossé lamented that New Yorkers pay “thousands of dollars to someone who just opened a door to a place you found online” (He said during the hearing that he believes brokers can bring value to a person’s search for a home).    

Both things can be true. A rental broker can collect a commission for just unlocking a door for a prospective tenant. Another may take a client to a bunch of listings in one day, get ghosted and then not collect a fee. 

For now, it seems that the Adams administration is leaning in favor of brokers. The mayor told reporters this week that agents work hard and his administration is “going to see exactly how [the bill] impacts the industry. Sometimes you have to be careful.” That may not matter if a veto-proof majority is reached, though the bill would still need to be called to a vote. As of Wednesday, the bill had 33 sponsors. 

What we’re thinking about: Who will buy Brookfield Properties 3333 Broadway in Morningside Heights?

A thing we’ve learned: Singer Françoise Hardy, who died Tuesday at age 80, was the only French singer on Rolling Stone’s 2023 list of the best singers of all time, according to the New York Times.    

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Elsewhere in New York…

— City Comptroller Brad Lander and transit advocates are considering filing a lawsuit to reinstate congestion pricing, Gothamist reports. “We’re here to make it clear that if congestion pricing is not implemented as legally mandated on June 30, we are ready and able to take the state to court,” Lander said.

— Hillary Clinton has endorsed Westchester County Executive George Latimer to unseat Rep. Jamaal Bowman, Politico New York reports. “With Trump on the ballot, we need strong, principled Democrats in Congress more than ever,” Clinton posted on X

— Joey Chestnuts will not compete in this year’s Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest due to a reported deal with Impossible Foods, which makes plant-based franks, NBC New York reports

Major League Eating said in a statement that it hopes Chestnut “returns when he is not representing a rival brand.” Chestnuts said he was “gutted” by his inability to compete. Impossible Food responded with this: “we love Joey and support him in any contest he chooses. It’s OK to experiment with a new dog. Meat eaters shouldn’t have to be exclusive to just one wiener.”

Closing Time

Residential: The priciest residential sale Tuesday was $7.26 million for a 2,830-square-foot condominium at 91 Leonard Street in TriBeCa. Mara Flash Blum of Sotheby’s International Realty had the listing. 

Commercial: The largest commercial sale of the day was $7.7 million for a 6-story, 61-unit apartment building at 200 East 205th Street in Bedford Park. 

New to the Market: The highest price for a residential property hitting the market was $9.25 million for a 3,200-square-foot condominium at 39 West 23rd Street in Flatiron. Shelley F OKeefe of Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group has the listing. — Matthew Elo 

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