The Value of Today’s Buyer's Agent
We all know that the internet has changed everything about real estate, as it has for countless other service-based industries, from financial services to travel, and even medicine. But for real estate, everything has been turned inside out. In fact, Compass has based their entire one-billion-dollar valuation on the worth of technology in today's real estate marketplace.
This month, I’d like to focus on the buyer's agent and specifically buyer's agents in the Manhattan and greater New York City area. Ours is unlike any market the country, or the world, for that matter. For starters, in New York City there is no multiple listing service (MLS), like one would find in nearly every other real estate market in the U.S. When I speak to real estate agents from other regions, they are blown away by how much harder it is for us to conduct business here, and that's where the value of the buyer's agent first becomes apparent. The mere fact that there is no MLS in Manhattan means that property listings are everywhere and anywhere. There have always been at least five private systems —either shared by a few agencies or controlled by one — but never a truly collaborative MLS where all listings are collected and shared broker to broker. StreetEasy was our MLS answer for some time, but in July of this year, the website started charging agents to list properties, and the number of StreetEasy rental and sales listings dropped by almost half.
A good and resourceful buyer's agent can make sure that buyers cast as wide a net as possible, searching every private website as well as every public source. Plus, they have ongoing day-to-day knowledge of listings from a variety industry-only sources. These can include broker-to-broker email advertisements, weekly sales meetings where coming-to-market listings are discussed, as well as subscription services that announce off-market, for-sale-by-owner (FSBO) items that are almost never found by the buying public at large.
Having an active agent focused on finding properties for buyers through all of these different resources is a huge benefit. Also, relationships matter. It’s a big city, but a very close-knit community of agents who handle about 80 percent of the transactions in New York City. Tapping into agents who know each other well and work with each other all the time can make all the difference in getting that offer accepted.
After the deal is fully executed is when the benefit of the buyer's agent can really blossom. From co-op and condo board applications, to managing agent relationships, to attorney contacts, brokering the deal happens during the entire lifecycle of the transaction and really has its legs right in the middle. There is nothing more important in a co-op transaction, for example, than the board package. It’s the only time during the deal where the outcome is not in the seller's or buyer's hands, but controlled by a third party who has the power to kill the deal. It’s the responsibility of the buyer's broker to work with their client and create the perfect package that is concise, easy to understand and free of mistakes, yet in-depth and complete.
Bringing in a skilled buyer's agent who has great relationships and a deep knowledge of our complex transactions, inventory and industry can be a huge benefit to getting a deal closed quickly and effectively.