The High Road: Brokers may take too much credit

(Flickr photo by Tumbleweed)

When an apartment sells for more than similar units — in the neighborhood or, especially, in the same building — the listing broker takes and gets a huge amount of credit for that achievement.

But how much of the number is attributable to the broker’s skill?

The fact is that, on some level, all competent brokers do the same things — for example, staging a co-op or condo, preparing marketing materials and spreading the word whether through paid means or the grapevine.

Getting the highest price doesn’t necessarily reflect so much on the broker than on the market’s appetite for a particular property.

True, brokers help sellers make two key decisions: pricing temptingly and listing at the best time.  You don’t want to offer an apartment for too much money and you don’t want to put, say, a four-bedroom unit on the market when large families don’t tend to be looking for a new home.  Timing.

Among the key differences between successful and less successful brokers is their skill in presenting a property, targeting the most vulnerable market and conducting tough negotiations.

But there’s nothing a broker can do to overcome a lack of consumer confidence or, on the other hand, a boost in Wall Street bonuses.  A buyer visits the property, likes it and makes an offer in consultation with his or her own broker.

If the prospective purchaser has done enough homework, having visited comparable properties and analyzed the housing market, you can be sure that it doesn’t much matter what the listing broker has done.

Buyers bid not only what a property is worth in the marketplace but what it is worth to them.  The listing broker can take little justifiable credit for how hot the market is for a particular property and the price that it brings.

I realize that I am treading on sacred ground here and that the distinction I am drawing is a fine one.  On the one hand, I know, I am contending that the broker doesn’t make a difference, while I also maintain that some brokers are better than others.

The distinction centers on just how much credit some brokers self-importantly take for matters beyond their control.  Sometimes, even often, a record price is just a matter of luck.

Listing brokers shouldn’t be taking undeserved credit for something over which they have no influence.  To my way of thinking, a record price is not proof that they are cracker-jack brokers; there are numerous other gauges of quality.

Tomorrow: Out and About

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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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