Brokers have a mantra: ‘Buyers are liars’

Not only do many brokers characterize buyers as “liars” (generally in less of a malicious and more of a frustrated way), but they also think of sellers as greedy.

I disagree.

Buyers don't swear to tell the truth. Flickr photo by Office of Gov. Patrick.

What happens with buyers is that they begin to refine and more often than not expand their requirements as they engage in the search process.  It is a learning experience about what is of increasing and what is of diminishing importance to them.

For example, once they actually get around to open houses and see what various features cost, they might compromise on outside space if they are near park.  They might decide that a doorman is, after all, very important.  They might be willing to trade a geographic preference for greater value elsewhere.

A longtime client of mine whose loft I listed and whose current apartment I sold her has been surprising me with her “lies,” of which you’ll find only a sample below, since she started talking about moving again a few months ago.

First, she was, as she put it, in no hurry–maybe it would be a year or two.  Now, she can’t wait.

Then, it was only on the Manhattan’s Upper West Side in the 60s and 70s.  Now, she wants to see a large apartment on Central Park West in the 80s.  Maybe the park itself would compensate for the location and the lack of outdoor space she originally demanded, said my client.

Before, it was a pre-war unit with decent renovations.  Now, she won’t consider anything but a sleek loft (though that hardly fits the description of the co-op on Central Park West).

She called me on Sunday to say that, after all, she and her husband would be willing to live in Tribeca or SoHo.

As you can imagine, her many changes have proved a bit exasperating–can one be a “bit” exasperated?  But my client is not lying: She’s learning.

Buyers don’t swear to tell the truth, yet they do tell the truth almost all the time.  The problem for brokers is that the the truth keeps changing, as it should.

If buyers aren’t liars, are sellers greedy?  Not necessarily.

Put yourself in a seller’s place.  Wouldn’t you want the most for your co-op, condo or townhouse?  Of course you would.

While sellers aren’t greedy, the trouble with them is that they are the champions of denial.  They usually don’t appreciate that the prices they hear about in their own building often are inflated, that their unit doesn’t compare in quality with others on the market, and that the statistics marshaled by brokers to arrive at a strategic listing price can be ignored.

Nor do many sellers trust the very expertise that should be the reason for picking one broker over another.

They don’t trust brokers?  Well, we have no choice but to stop whining.  The bed on which we lie is the one that far too many of us have made poorly.

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Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201
Web site

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