No, obviously I’m not a doorman.
But sometimes I feel like one as a real estate broker in Manhattan.
The contrast between between selling real estate in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., where I spent an unfortunate number of years before moving back “home” to Manhattan, was profound. Among the differences:
- Most property showings are in the absence of listing brokers, with keys left with concierges or in secure lockboxes opened with electronic keys;
- Offers are made in the form of contracts that agents and brokers complete themselves;
- The only lawyers commonly part of a transaction are those who conduct the closing;
- In a hot market, all of my buyers had to sign an exclusive agency agreement for me to represent them so that I wouldn’t spend hours driving them to three jurisdictions and receive no compensation afterward.
The result was that I got to use my brain more than I do here in the Big Apple. It was important to negotiate not only the price with skill, but brokers in D.C. have the opportunity to inject subtleties into an offer, occasionally novel ones, to ensure that it be accepted. Deposit amounts, free occupancy after the closing (which can be dangerous if permitted casually) and other temptations could make the difference between winning and losing in a competitive situation.
Mostly, though not exclusively, what we do here is get the other side to agree on a price and hand everything over to lawyers.
Whether on the listing or selling side of a transaction, we spend a lot of time merely opening doors for prospective buyers. As I hope you have guessed, I’m exaggerating a bit for effect. Still, the fact remains, that we brokers do much less here than in other parts of the country.
Despite my plaint, there are, in fact, good reasons for persisting in this occupation in New York.
For me, it’s all about selling someone a home, not just a pair of shoes or nice new necktie.
I especially enjoy working with first-timers, whose joy at being able to move into a home that they own tugs at my heart.
Once, I was reduced to choking back tears at a closing table when my immigrant clients and their family were handed the keys. The closing followed a difficult time with negotiating the purchase and getting a mortgage approval in two languages.
So, although the challenge of crafting a winning offer is lower for me here than it was in D.C., I still take great satisfaction either in marketing a listing so well that a seller is thrilled or crafting an offer so appealing that both buyer and seller are pleased.
Having a real estate business sure beats selling cars out of an automobile showroom.
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022