Student brokers find off-campus homes for peers

College students—including some at Northeastern University—will act as real estate brokers for their fellow students, finding them off-campus apartments, in a new program from a Back Bay firm.

The Student Housing Ambassador Program (SHAG) is the invention of New Wave Boston Real Estate. It trains students to become independent, licensed real estate brokers.

“Instead of going to Craigslist or going to a random agency, you can go to a friend or someone you know on campus,” said New Wave spokesperson Zach Gexler. The student-broker can offer apartment-hunting advice specific to the school or area, he said.

Asked whether the program could feed a network of party houses, Gexler said, “Not at all.”

“We don’t just take anybody” as brokers, he said. “They have to be reputable” and are screened and supervised by two principal brokers at New Wave. Student-brokers must be at least sophomores and are required to get a real estate license.

SHAG has six to eight student-brokers already in place, including at NU, Berklee College of Music, Boston Architectural College and Suffolk University, according to New Wave. The agency aims to have the program running by January.

New Wave refers to the student-brokers as “shaggers.” Gexler said that New Wave is aware that the term is also British slang for “sexual intercourse,” as made famous by the “Austin Powers” comedy movies.

“Of course, [being] a little provocative never hurt,” he said.

But the program is serious stuff and will help students in the “hated” apartment-hunting process, he said.

While SHAG is attempting to network with college housing offices, it is better because the student-brokers can offer clients a full range of listings, Gexler said.

The City of Boston’s push to get more students living on-campus in dorms won’t impact the SHAG program, Gexler predicted.

“The [housing] inventory for the city doesn’t match the demand,” he said. And dorms can cost as much as $2,000 a month—more than a lot of off-campus apartments, he said, adding that New Wave just got a call from four students seeking to move from a dorm into private housing.

SHAG’s student-brokers will get a commission on any apartment deal they cut, and they are free to work whenever they want.

“We don’t want people to give up midterms studying just to rent an apartment,” Gexler said.

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