What’s a buyer without a broker to do? And why?

While making my rounds of open houses the other day, I ran into a lovely couple from New Jersey who are planning to add a Manhattan residence to the real estate they already own.  In search of an apartment near Lincoln Center that might have outdoor space and certainly will have open exposures, they’ve been checking out the market for some time.

They’ve gone through several brokers, they told me, partly because the couple is not quite ready to buy and is determined to avoid compromise.  So they, like me, visit open houses on their own.  (I do it to keep up to date and to write my “Out and About” column in my biweekly newsletter.)

I noticed them shuffling through computer printouts and newspaper classifieds as they tried to figure where next to go.  I also overheard them calling a broker that they found in the material in the hope of seeing another apartment a few minutes later.  (They succeeded.)

Injecting myself into their conversation, I had to find out why they themselves were doing all the research and making the appointments without the assistance of a broker.  After all, a good broker saves time, stays on top of the market, knows or learns useful information about a property that might pique a customer’s interest, and doesn’t cost the buyer a cent.

A good example of how a well-informed broker can help would be the view unmentioned in the listing (for obvious reasons) from the second-floor apartment pictured below.

Big trash receptacles are closer than they appear to be.

Big trash receptacles in the photo are closer than they appear to be.

Having been surprised by such a view, which they rationally decided was unacceptable, why does this couple and do so many other buyers persevere on their own? Continue reading