Who is the best broker for buyers or sellers?

Making the right choice is not always easy whether in chess or real estate. (Flickr photo by metrognome0)

As soon as I saw the headline. . .

How to Choose an Agent as a Buyer and As a Seller

. . . I was all but certain that I’d quibble with at least some of what followed.

I was right.

Although the post at Curbed.com gives basically sound advice, especially for buyers, the thing that I most questioned was the following:

When you’re interviewing brokers for your apartment, make sure to ask them to bring you a presentation. Most agencies have presentations that show off their marketing abilities, website views, number of agents, etc.

As the piece implies, most agencies do provide presentations for the use of their brokers.  The problem is that they’re all essentially alike, more cookie-cutter than a 1960s apartment on the Upper East Side.

However, a presentation can be useful if the broker has fleshed it out or, better, taken the trouble to create a custom version from scratch.  Such a version would outline the broker’s record, perhaps provide a marketing timetable and contains numerous other kinds of information, including details about the neighborhood’s housing market.

I also have a small objection to the following:

A main selling point of a broker is that they should be able to get you comparable contract signed prices through their contacts in the industry.

It is true that contacts can’t hurt, but the whole point of having marketing expertise is the abililty to expose an available property to as many potential buyers as possible.  Letting other brokers know of the listing doubtless helps, but a full-fledged campaign aimed directly at consumers is key.

The post goes on to suggest, accurately, that those whom the author labels “name” brokers should be avoided if the property isn’t at or near the top of those brokers’ high price point.  Otherwise, such brokers won’t bother to show your home themselves, according to Curbed.  The piece notes:

If it’s down toward the lower end of their listings, it’s probable that someone else on their team, even someone who could be a very new agent, could be showing it to potential clients.

Maybe so, but I have long held the belief that properties sell themselves, not their listing brokers.

That’s a bit of an exaggeration, I know, but anyone who has been trained minimally, learned a property’s features and figured out how to respond to objections — for example, “This is not for someone who demands a lot of light, but it’s great for someone who values quiet.” — can serve the seller quite well.

What a seller pays for is the broker’s expertise much more so than that the individual’s skill with a spiel.

Finally, let me praise a point Curbed makes about any vague numbers that are supplied by a potential listing broker.  The post notes:

If the numbers are just the broker’s opinion, they might be trying to ‘buy’ the listing — selling you with sugar-coated promises rather than facts and figures that are easy to obtain.

In a series of posts, Curbed has done a commendable job of giving novice, even experienced, buyers and sellers, information that can guide them through the thickets of the New York City residential housing market.

Good for the Curbed.  Good for the consumer.

Tomorrow: How friendly?

To take your own bite out of the Big Apple, you can privately search all available properties for a new home.

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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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