Brokers face stiff competiton. From lawyers.

(Source: Library of Congress)

Some buyers and sellers may not realize that brokers aren’t alone.

State law allows lawyers to collect commissions — without having a real estate license — though they cannot employ other salespersons to work under them unless they do obtain a license.

However, lawyers may not automatically charge a commission.  They must have a signed agreement with whomever they are representing or an agreement with the listing broker.

At the same time, lawyers may not double dip.  It is a conflict of interest for a lawyer to act as both attorney and real estate broker in the same transaction.

Interestingly, Continue reading

Out and About: FSBO will get what he deserves

View from balcony of a condo owner who “doesn’t have to sell.”

The owner of a one-bedroom condo on a corner of Broadway in the mid 90s was telling me how he had carefully done his research before setting the asking price for his pied-à-terre in a post-war building with a health club and other amenities.

Jeff had looked at comparable prices online, checked sales in his building and decided on $669,000 for the apartment, which has maintenance of $735 and real estate taxes of $375 a month.

“But,” he volunteered, “I don’t know the condition of the other apartments. What do you think?” Continue reading

New property-search site falls short of complete


With little fanfare, a kinda new site for searching New York city properties for sale went live last week.  On its home page, the announcement was brief:

New Yorkers who are looking for a new home now have a new way to buy, rent or sell real estate, with the launch . . . of, a comprehensive real estate listings website from NY1 News and the Real Estate Board of New York.

The problem I have is that “comprehensive” overstates the usefulness of the site, which Continue reading

Out and About: Some sellers still defy reason

Huh? (Flickr photo by SAN_DRINO)

Many sellers seem to be misreading the market.

That was my thought this past weekend as I toured open houses on the Upper West Side. I was struck by the magnitude of the chasm between what sellers were asking for their apartments, whether large and rambling or small and musty, and my take on Manhattan’s housing market today.

Perhaps the most glaring example was a condo in the very low 70s.  In a notable 1926 doorman building between Broadway and Columbus Avenue, the overstuffed duplex has some impressive features, such as a living/dining space that has a 16-foot-high ceiling, lovely wide-plank flooring said to have cost $90,000 and stylish baths.  Continue reading

The High Road: Yes, it’s okay to talk about commissions


The Times loves to skewer sacred cows (get it?), and regular readers know that I have a healthy appetite for doing so as well. (Flickr photo by turbotoddi)

The New York Times has forced my hand.  The newspaper’s lead story in Sunday’s Real Estate section–which quotes Charles Rutenberg co-founder Kathy Braddock, among others–maintains that sellers can negotiate broker commissions successfully.

Ironically, I had been musing about commissions since a lively discussion that several members of the REwrite group of real estate bloggers enjoyed at a meet-up that I organized last Thursday night.  More about that in a bit.

As the Times noted, Continue reading

Should brokers give it away free?

If you don't ask, no one needs to tell. (Flickr photo by cbsparklane)

Like physicians or lawyers at a cocktail party, real-estate brokers can be handy targets for consumers who want free advice.

I’m sure I’ve been guilty of asking impertinent questions, too.  Everyone seems to handle them in different ways, and I know I don’t have a consistent response.

Sometimes, the person asking the question is considering which broker to hire to sell a property.  What the owner invariably wants to know is how much it is worth and for how much it should be listed.

Frankly, I don’t like to give that information away free, not Continue reading

Blogger flirts with false economy as a FSBO

I’ve been following the hopes, dreams and frustrations of a FSBO (For Sale By Owner, pronounced “FIZ-bow) in one of my favorite blogs for months.

As a broker always eager to list a property for sale, I must admit a large part of me was hoping that “Kathy” would be unable to chronicle in BrickUnderground a successful sale process.

Not long after they were married, Kathy and Rob realized they needed a bigger place than their studio on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.  Having pored over books, searched on the Internet and visited open houses, they had a good understanding of what would be required of them.

In March, they priced their apartment at $439,000, Continue reading