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

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Curbed University delivers insider tips and non-boring advice on how to buy, sell, or rent a home or apartment. Additional questions welcomed to Up now, how to choose a broker.

If you’re exclusively going with an agent to buy or sell your apartment, it’s important to pick the right one, because you will most likely be spending a lot of time with them (and also forgoing your yearly Starbucks allowance to pay them to help you out). As a seller, you’ll be paying anywhere from 3 to 6 percent of the purchase price, depending on your exclusive listing agreement. (If the agent brings in the buyer as well as listing and marketing your property, they might get 6 percent, though in this market, some agencies are going for 5 percent as a starting point. If they’re co-broking with another agency who brings a buyer, they will split that 6 percent.) If you’re just concentrating on having someone help you as a buyer, there’s also a possibility that you’ll have to pay them out of pocket. Yikes.

If you’re a first time buyer, you can make a choice of who you want to help you. Seasoned agents usually know what’s going on, but they also don’t always take on first time buyers themselves. Instead, they pass them off to a team member. Think of it like high school?the cool seniors don’t hang out with dorky freshmen (first time buyers). Sometimes it’s even better for newbie homeowners to look for really eager agents who will work their butts off for them. The goal is to find someone who is going to really work hard for you and who you can get along with. Chasing after a broker while trying to buy an apartment is not a good look for you.

When you’re looking for someone to sell your apartment, you have to think “I’m going to want to pay this person at least 3 percent of the purchase price of my apartment. So... it better be worth it.” First of all, find someone who might have sold in the building or at least in the neighborhood. They’ll be very familiar with apartments that have recently sold, and they’ll know how to price your apartment accordingly. Of course, any broker will be able to look up this information, but someone who specializes in the area will be able to rattle off the numbers.

If you’re not really liking any of the building’s usual brokers, look for a broker who has sold similarly priced properties?they might be able to bring in buyers they've worked with in the past who have similar needs.

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. There are many aspects that you’ll have to judge during these interviews, but one thing to be very aware of is that some brokers will try to convince you they can get a better price than anyone else.

Ask them what numbers they have to support this. They should have a summary of the current average price of apartments in your area. 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. 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.

Most of all, go with someone who you feel comfortable calling up and asking about the status of your apartment. Some “brokers to the stars” might have a lot of contacts, but before you go with a “name” broker, take a look at their other listings. If your apartment is way up at the top in price, there’s a good chance that the broker will be showing it themselves. 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.
· How to Not Get Screwed Over by a Rental Broker [Curbed]
· Why Brokers Hate Buyers and Vice Versa [Curbed]
· Curbed University [Curbed]