10 Reasons Why You Need A Buyer's Agent
When I am hired by a client to sell their New York City apartment, I am promising my new client I will do everything I can, within legal and ethical boundaries, to sell their home. I am the seller’s spokesperson and advocate. Even further, New York State Law requires the seller sign a New York State Agency Disclosure Form which states “A seller’s agent does not represent the interests of the buyer.”
Who is representing you? When I often meet with new buyers, especially first-time buyers, they don’t know what they don’t know.
As an experienced real estate broker, I am passionate about what I do every day - guiding my client to the best possible decision in making the largest single investment in your life - your new home.
I will help determine how much you should spend based on a pre and post-purchase analysis of your finances, focus your search, analyze the market, monitor on and off-market opportunities, represent you in your negotiations and work through the board approval process to get you successfully to the closing table.
Reason #1 Why You Need a Buyer’s Agent: Who Represents You?
Before you start dealing with a real estate agent in any capacity, be sure to ask who they represent. Every real estate agent is required by New York State Law to disclose to each party in a transaction who they represent by providing the state-mandated New York State Disclosure Form for your signature. This should be done the first time you and the agent have substantive contact. The Seller has their own agent who will zealously represent the seller’s interests and goals - NOT YOUR INTERESTS. You should have a buyer’s agent in your corner doing the same.
Reason #2 Why You Need a Buyer’s Agent: The Data Gap
There is an enormous amount of data available, especially online, but what does it all mean? Why did one comp close so high or low compared to the apartment you like? A failure to properly understand or analyze the data will cause you to incorrectly value an apartment. I have seen this cause an information gap between the buyer and seller that is too large to overcome and reach a deal since one party may not adequately understand the data. Hire a professional to parse through the data and provide the meaningful color behind the data to properly assess valuations.
Reason #3 Why You Need a Buyer’s Agent: What You Don’t Know Will Hurt You
Although New York State Law requires sellers to sign a Property Condition Disclosure Statement to buyers, many buyers do now realize this form is not required in the sale of condominiums or cooperatives. While there is a standard that a seller’s agent should disclose to a buyer anything material to the buyer’s decision to purchase the property, the legal meaning of this can be clouded and sometimes a seller’s agent and their seller simply may not know or recall an issue. Thus, it is unlikely you may learn about every important negative aspect of an apartment or building. A savvy buyer’s agent will know the critical questions to ask and where to get the answers. A savvy buyer’s agent will be able to interpret the answers. A savvy buyer’s agent will find the appropriate response to protect you and bridge the gap between the apartment and your inspector, mortgage banker and attorney to assemble all the information you need. Remember, your lawyer and mortgage banker never step foot in the apartment and may not know what issues to raise in the contract and mortgage process.
One of the best examples of this is where a seller has converted a dining room into a 2nd, 3rd or 4th bedroom without obtaining a permit from the New York City Department of buildings when a permit was required. The buyer’s attorney may not realize there is an additional bedroom and thus may not check if a proper permit was obtained. Once you close, it may now be your responsibility to file the proper paperwork, pay for the permit and any potential fines. Alternatively, when you go to sell your apartment, a savvy buyer and their agent will see this issue and require you to remedy it. A savvy buyer’s agent will advise you to walk away if the issues presented are too risky for your scenario. I will never forget the apartment my buyer and I had inspected where the inspector discovered extensive mold along the bedroom ceiling in addition to a leaking building façade which appeared to have no practical resolution. After consulting together, my buyer decided not to sign the contract. Another buyer did end up buying that apartment.
Reason #4 Why You Need a Buyer’s Agent: There is No Cost
In New York City, the Seller’s agent is required, pursuant to the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), to share their listing information with the brokerage community and co-broke their commission with your buyer’s agent. Please be wary of a real estate broker that is not a member of REBNY.
Reason #5 Why You Need a Buyer’s Agent: Negotiating Power
“I want the best deal.” Working with a trained, skillful negotiator who has a pulse on the market and has a rapport with the seller’s agent will negotiate a much better deal than you would negotiating directly. Similarly, a savvy seller’s agent will extract more from you in a negotiation than you may ever realize.
Reason #6 Why You Need a Buyer’s Agent: Coop Approval
“Will the Coop Board approve me?” An experienced agent will pre-qualify your purchasing ability, successfully navigate the challenging process of submitting a complete and polished board package and prepare you for the daunting board interview.
Reason #7 Why You Need a Buyer’s Agent: You Are Too Busy
You are busy and have your own job and life. Working with an experienced, knowledgeable and professional agent will save you time since they should be an expert on your preferred neighborhoods and buildings – your time equals money. A dedicated buyer’s agent should be searching on your behalf every day when you are finding an apartment. A dedicated buyer’s agent should be in touch often with you, your bank and attorney once the contract is signed to keep your transaction moving forward. A board application, whether for a condominium or cooperative, can be very complicated and takes dozens of hours to put together. It is imperative in a coop that your application is perfect and presents you in the best light. The coop board has discretionary authority to reject or accept your application before they even interview you based on how you look on paper.
Reason #8 Why You Need a Buyer’s Agent: Access to All Listings
As the online real estate world has matured, there are countless websites fighting for your clicks. I know because their most significant revenue source is agent advertising. This has caused more confusion and lack of uniformity amongst where listings are being displayed and the data being accurate and timely updated. Access to the official REBNY database is critical. Further, a great agent can use their brokerage and community contacts to find off-market deals that you will never know about.
Reason #9 Why You Need a Buyer’s Agent: Access to Reputable Vendors
You will get reliable references for real estate attorneys, mortgage bankers and other professionals to guide you through the purchase process seamlessly. A team of professionals that work together often is an unstoppable force working tirelessly in a cohesive manner on your behalf so you can focus on your life and career. I have often seen when different vendors work together for the first time, there can be misunderstandings and even a lack of teamwork which can hurt you. A quick example of this is when I represent a buyer, I ask the bank to list me as the contact to arrange the appraisal. I make this request to ensure we schedule the appraisal as soon as possible and we can provide the appraisal with any important information to guide them in determining the appraised value of the apartment. Typically, the bank will contact the seller’s agent and there can be a delay in scheduling in addition to a lack of information relayed to the appraiser.
Reason #10 Why You Need a Buyer’s Agent: Objectivity
The purchase of a home can be an emotional process. Having a buyer’s agent is the perfect intermediary to negotiate on your behalf in the best light. One of the best pieces of advice I learned early in my career when I was a business lawyer was to never write an email when you are emotional. Draft the email, send it to yourself, and sleep on it. In the heat of a negotiation, my clients are often very emotional. This is natural. Having a sounding board who is your advocate will hear your concerns, allow you to express them, and convey the critical message without the emotional component to the seller. I assure you the seller will respond in a more positive manner to your request or offer if conveyed professionally and coherently, not emotionally
The contents of this blog are tailored to New York City real estate and how the concepts discussed apply to a New York City transaction.
The information provided in this blog does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this blog are for general informational purposes only. Readers of this blog should contact their attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter.