The High Road: Even brokers sometimes need brokers

Consider the real estate broker whom I’ll call Seth, whose experience he recounted last week while my client was taking measurements of the condo that it is to be his in a month.

Seth and his wife recently went into contract to purchase for more than $5 million a Jersey City, N.J. property.

As a New York licensee, he realized that buying in New Jersey is so unlike New York that Seth would be a fool to represent himself. Said he:

My decision was based on there being a different process going from “A” to “Z.”

Yet Seth didn’t give his own broker control and is glad of it, saying the broker-to-broker situation was unlike a typical buyer’s.

Until I ended up speaking with the seller directly, the deal died.  It was really, really crazy.

He added that having his own broker reminded him of what buyers go through, saying that he understands why his advice can fall on deaf ears.

For example, a buyer may well balk at paying more than the market demands.  But if the buyer has looked for a long time and fallen in love with the property, that’s a message he or she has to receive.

“We ended up in that situation,” Seth related.  “It’s very personal for the buyer.”

Although Seth’s relationship is a bit unusual, brokers frequently do find themselves being sellers.  Too often, they list their own property themselves–I did when I sold my house in D.C. a while ago.  I did very well, but it normally isn’t a good idea for a broker to list his or her own property.

It turns out that many brokers act like the sellers they scorn for valuing their properties too high, failing to remove clutter, neglecting to appreciate the need for cosmetic improvements, stalking visitors at their open houses and negotiating inflexibly, among other lapses.

I’m thinking of a skilled broker who put her Upper West Side apartment on the market  months ago.  Soon after, I looked at it and immediately realized that it was overpriced, filled with too many things and burdened with a major liability in the form of its tiny ancient kitchen.

The broker subsequently lowered the price, but not enough.  I ran into her after that, and she asked my opinion.  “It has to be below $600,000,” said I.  Only in the last several weeks, did she do that.  Maybe the place will sell now.

So, the lessons are these: The best brokers (among whom I number Seth) will recognize the need of having their own broker and even the best of us may well make mistakes.

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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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