The apartment I went to check out took me 13 blocks from the previous open house on the Upper West Side and 14 from the next one on my itinerary a week ago Sunday.
When I arrived at the building, there was a note on its entrance to call the broker to see the place. Common and fair enough.
Somebody already was on the phone, and I overheard him complaining to the individual on the other end that several potential buyers already were cooling their heels in the lobby — I saw them through the glass door crowded onto a sofa and milling about.
It turns out, the guy who made the call informed us, that the broker was in the building next door showing an apartment there. The broker, whom I’ll call Hector, told the man on the phone that he was on his way over.
He said the same thing to me both times I dialed his number in the intervening 20 minutes before Hector made his way to the building in which all of us were left cooling our heels. In my final call, Hector claimed that he was getting into the elevator.
It must have been a very slow elevator since a full five minutes ticked away before he showed up.
You see, Hector had not one apartment scheduled at the same time in “our” building, but two co-ops there and two in the building next door — in other words four simultaneous open houses on different floors in two buildings!
When the crowd of us impatient individuals jammed into the elevator, Hector proudly displayed a ring of keys that must have weighed a couple of pounds apparently in the hope of impressing us.
I don’t know how many, if any, potential buyers left in frustration in the interval before Hector arrived, but I do know that I have two problems with this broker’s way of doing business.
First and foremost, how can he possibly be serving his clients’ best interest — as required by the state — by making some buyers angry and possibly driving some away? (I, for one, was steaming and would have left had I not walked so far to see the listing.)
Second, how can he be so disrespectful of those who had to wait for him so long?
I do occasionally run into situations where a broker will have two simultaneous open houses in a building, and that’s almost forgivable for those of us who must wait a few minutes to see one or the other units.
Otherwise, the most responsible of brokers either will put themselves out, not consumers, by running open houses sequentially; they are willing to work a longer day than to impose their own schedules on buyers who, like me, may be racing among a long list of open houses in a short time span. (I had eight on my list that Sunday and, thanks to Hector, was able to catch only five of them before they closed.)
Another common option is to enlist another broker to help with a second open house when necessary, and that’s a laudable approach that can, however, cost a favor to be returned in the future or, sometimes, money.
What’s particularly remarkable about the situation with Hector is that he doesn’t work alone. On paper. He and another broker jointly listed all four properties, and I’d love to know how she spent her Sunday.
And remember that load of keys?
In Hector’s mind, they must mean that he’s a busy, busy and important broker. In my mind, those keys add up to one thing: His failure to sell all those apartments with dispatch.
Tomorrow: Full house
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Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022