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How to Find a Good Agent or Broker

A good real estate agent knows the market, the process and the players and earns their keep by living and breathing New York City real estate.

But, as in any industry there are good and bad NYC agents and brokers. Ultimately, it’s up to you to find the right agent because there’s nothing worse than losing your best buyer or failing to close successfully.

Start the process early

Choosing a broker shouldn’t be arbitrary. A good broker will serve as a guiding light, provide an objective opinion and provide up-to-the-minute market knowledge.  If you’ve met a broker or two that you don’t jibe with, find another.  Don’t assume they are all the same.

Unlike a buyer’s agent, hiring a listing agent is a much more formal process.  Hiring an agent to sell your apartment requires signing an agreement and being held to it.

Also, don’t wait until the 11th hour to find a broker. Consider your broker options many months before you are ready to sell because a good broker adds a ton of value by being involved very early in the process.

Sharing is caring

Of utmost importance is hiring an agent who will share your listing with the brokerage community and not just other buyers. That means contacting their network of brokers, holding open houses and actively getting it in front of the broker community.

All brokers who are members of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) will have access to all listings, so the playing field is even.  Also, given that everything is online today, it’s not critical to hire an agent from a big firm.  As a matter of fact, a smaller, independent broker may even be able to offer more out-of-the-box services or even a custom approach as to a big brokerage, so don’t discount the little guy or gal.

What matters is finding an agent who you trust, you feel you can work with and who you want representing your home.

The all-important referral

The absolute best practice for finding an agent or broker is to get a referral from someone you know and trust.  Asking for a referral from co-workers, friends and family who recently sold is free and easy.  Good brokers work off referrals from past clients so you can be sure that they want to keep that referral engine well-oiled.

Invite the agent referral into your home and interview them just like you would an employee. Having someone represent your home and having access to it is a different experience than having a broker by your side on the purchase. There has to be a connection.  You need to trust and like them as a person.  While they should be an experienced listing broker, their integrity, honesty and willingness to work hard should be the top priority.

The building expert

Strongly consider a broker or agent who sells a lot in the building – someone known as a Building Expert.

If an agent sells a lot in a building, they know the floor plans and have the most familiarity with recent sales and co-op boards.  That means that the Building Expert might have the best pulse on the building’s real estate market.  They may also have inside knowledge of upcoming listings or ongoing negotiations that could have an affect on your apartment’s marketability.

While it is helpful to know the Building Expert and let them know about your intentions, don’t feel like you have to work with them.  All listings get sent to the same listing database and are, therefore, available to all agents and buyers across town.

What matters most is that you trust your agent and feel they can get the job done — not that they have the most transactions in a building, although that does help.

The broker who helped you purchase

If you had a good experience with the broker who helped you purchase your apartment, they should be a likely contender.  They know you, know how you work, and you have a certain level of understanding having gone through a process together.

But don’t assume you have to work with that broker.  Also, a buyer’s broker doesn’t necessarily have the same qualifications as a listing broker.  Most new brokers start off working with buyers and, as they learn the market and the business, start taking on listings.  The most important part is to go with your gut.  If you trust them to represent your interests, then their level of experience will not matter.

Go to open houses

Yes, it’s true.  Open houses aren’t just for buyers. A good seller will spend time checking out some apartments both in their building and the neighborhood.  Not only will this exercise help inform them about pricing and what is happening in the market, but it’s a great opportunity to interview a potential listing broker.

The open house is a job interview for brokers.  By going to open houses, you can see them in their work setting. See how they treat buyers, ask them questions and see how knowledgeable they are.  A listing broker is the face of the apartment and the listing.  There is no better way to get a sense for how they will represent you than by watching some agents in action.

The bottom line

One surefire way to decide which agent is best for you is to think about them as the public face of your apartment sale.  Your agent will represent your interests to buyers, other agents, attorneys and your managing agent. Who would you want representing you and your home?

Hire the person you trust and the person you feel will do the best job representing your best interests. If you go down that path, you won’t be disappointed.

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