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Ask Curbed: Playing the No-Fee Game

A Curbed reader emails:

I've been reading the website since its inception and absolutely love it. However, one thing I've noticed is that the site seems to be geared more towards development/purchasing rather than renting a habitat in our lovely city. Therefore, I've resorted to this venue to seek out your advice. Currently, I live in a $1,775 one bedroom on the Lower East Side and pay my own heat. I'm planning on going to grad school in September of 2007 and would like to save a few dollars before then. However, it seems that any apartment I find for under $1,650 has a brokers fee associated with it. Is this going to be the case no matter where I look? I've been thinking of leaving my great neighborhood for the Financial District or Upper West Side to save the money, but if I have to pay a brokers fee it's just not worth it. What are your guys' thoughts? Honestly, any comments would be more than appreciated.

It's akin to another question we frequently get asked: to use a rental broker or not use a rental broker? Let's have at the pros and cons in the comments. Rental experiences, stories, and the current rent you're paying for what kind of space are all appropriate here. (Name calling is not—don't make us bring the pain.)