housing market

Real Estate Agents Face Real Competition

real estate agent-action press
The new rent-control law could open the door to savings for tenants.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    A new rent control law that came into force in Germany on Monday could shake up the country’s €6 billion real estate brokerage market by exposing it to competition from low-cost Internet services.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Until Monday, tenants in Germany had to pay more than two monthly rents to estate agents for securing a rental agreement — even when they didn’t hire an agent.
    • As part of a new law aimed at curbing the runaway rents in some German cities, the onus of paying real estate agents has been placed on the landlords who hire them.
    • The cost of searching for a flat is likely to fall, but tenants may have to divulge a surfeit of personal information via new web-based flat-hunting services.
  • Audio

    Audio

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In Germany, the job of real estate agent ranks as one of the most controversial occupations, thanks to a law that for decades allowed this person to earn fat fees from new tenants for doing little more than unlocking the door to an apartment.

It was up to the tenant — not the landlord — to pay the agent a fee amounting to 2.38 monthly rents, even though the landlord usually hired the agent. That all changed on Monday as part of new rent-control legislation.

Not surprisingly, the country’s 55,000 estate agents are up in arms.

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