Estate agents often have the most attractive accommodation, as many landlords do not wish to spend time looking for and contracting tenants. In many cases, you never see the landlord as the agent handles all administrative tasks.
Estate agents charge a commission ( Courtage) when they help somebody find a flat. The Estate Agents Act ( Wohnungsvermittlungsgesetz) states that this commission can go up to two months of base rent ( Kaltmiete, excluding any extra charges) plus value added tax (as per 2000). An estate agent may not ask for any payment until a legally-binding rent contract has been signed.
To find an agent or a list of estate agents in your chosen area in Germany, you should contact the Ring Deutscher Makler, the Association of German Estate Agents:
Ring Deutscher Makler
Tel.: 0049 (0)40-32 56 480
Fax: 0049 (0)40-32 56 48 49
Using a real estate agent is the simplest way to find accommodation, but is also the most expensive. Never pay a fee before the lease has been signed - not even a handling fee ( Bearbeitungsgebühr). Do not sign anything before all conditions have been negotiated and you are sure you understand them.