It would be so nice to meetcha

A fortrress mentality is hardly helpful. (Flickr photo by Ava Babili)

Unlike other jurisdictions, rare is the occasion in New York City when a buyer’s representative presents an offer in person to the seller.


When I asked other brokers whether they were aware of such a practice here, their eyebrows shot up and their contorted mouths betrayed their distaste for the notion. All right, I’m being sort of hyperbolic, but in-person offers almost never occur.

One possible reason is that brokers possess a mentality that they are the walls of a fortress between buyer and seller.  They feel it is their job to protect the seller from any direct contact with the other side, setting up an adversarial relationship.

It’s my belief that brokers and agents here have so little power in the Big Apple, having ceded most to lawyers, that they zealously guard what they view as any encroachment on their territory.  And what if the seller thought highly of the buyer’s broker!

We all know that New Yorkers have a reputation (not universally justified) for being confrontational, so the adversarial approach is theoretically ingrained even if it is not helpful.

How can it be helpful to set up a relationship in which two sides are opposed to each other?  Yes, of course, each side wants the best deal for itself, but that situation doesn’t necessarily mandate a defensive posture.  (Or, for that matter, an aggressive one.)

Negotiations ought to be thought of as a team effort, with both sides working toward the same goal: Agreement.  It’s the opposite of how the two political parties have clashed in Washington.

Selling a property — that is, getting someone to make an offer — isn’t all that hard, though it can take time and persistence.  All of us do essentially the same things to market an apartment or townhouse — pricing, staging, advertising, creating marketing materials and holding open houses.  Yep, it’s true, but I don’t deny that some do it better than others.

Also true is that getting from an unacceptable offer to one that results in a meeting of the minds is the challenge.

If buyer brokers had the chance to appeal directly to sellers in the presence of their listing brokers, especially when there are multiple bids, the successful presentation of an offer would quickly separate the exceptional salespersons from the mediocre ones.

Such presentations give the listing broker the opportunity to charm, persuade and highlight the best reasons for a seller to accept a particular offer. They also allow for the best communication, unhampered by a less capable broker or one with a conflict of interest.

We all want to make a deal.  Why don’t we work together to make one happen?

Let’s leave the door open for direct contact, not slam it shut.

Tomorrow: Meet the seller from hell

To take a bite out of the Big Apple, start your search for a new home here.

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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
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6 thoughts on “It would be so nice to meetcha

  1. Hello Malcolm: Having been in the business for decades, I alway put my offers in person, if possible, as there are so many issues with a sale. It is polite and there are many aspects that could impact a sale. To call in your offer like a telephone order is not the best for the seller and a sale can have many details that could be important to a seller such as time for a closing, financing, buying items in the property, a lease for the owner if if they haven’t a residence yet or even adding some art work or antiques if the price is not met. Now how can you deal with all the issues if you say one short sentence, “I have an offer and the amount…it is the fastest way to a no and does not help the the seller or the industry with our professionalism and manners. The bottom line it is up to the seller to call the shots and up to the broker to explain everything which is more complete and thorough in person. Unless the owner wants only a phone call procedure. I love your column Malcolm.


  2. Perspective, Malcolm? Gawaaan.
    Having brokered previously in Rochester, NY where the practice is commonplace, you are correct sir. A fax with numbers and a pre approval, even if sent with a charming cover letter, are seldom a match for the human touch.

    One of the toughest sales I ever made was when a brilliant buyer agent sat at the kitchen table with myself and my seller clients and made a respectful, tactful case. I am not so sure that it is a control thing as much as a time thing. That is three hours out of the day when you consider the travel and time to meet.

    But sometimes, going “old school” gets the job done. If I had not seen and done the practice myself previously, Vesna would not have made it in front of my clients and I may have never made that sale.


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