Selling your condo can be a complex and overwhelming process, made simpler and more efficient when backed by the right real estate broker. Yet, the market teems with brokers, each promising the best deal. So, how do you ensure you have the right person in your corner? This comprehensive guide offers you crucial insights and practical tips.
I am Michael Sussilleaux, and along with my wife Dina, we are the principals of The Sussilleaux Team. Between the two of us we have over 40 years of professional real estate experience and expertise in Manhattan and Brooklyn helping our clients buy, sell, invest in, and rent condos, co-ops, and townhouses.
The barrier of entry to become a real estate agent is very low, and the field attracts thousands of people attracted by the lure of easy money. Over 80% of agents make it through their first year. Why? Because it’s hard to get business, and with 100% commission-based compensation, very few of these agents ever earn a single dollar.
Even fewer agents are able to create a self-sustaining business over the years.
I am writing this article to give you some insight into how to sort through all the inexperienced agents to help your find a true professional. After all, this is probably the largest financial transaction of your life, so you want to do it right.
Understanding the Role of a Real Estate Broker in Condo Sales
Navigating the real estate world involves getting your bearings right.
The first key concept is understanding the role of a real estate broker, their differences, and the core functions they perform.
Differentiating between Real Estate Brokers, Agents, and Realtors
Real estate brokers are professionals who have attained a higher level of education compared to agents and are licensed to run their own real estate businesses if they choose to do so. Dina and I are Licensed Associate Real Estate Brokers in the state of New York.
Agents, on the other hand, work exclusively under the supervision of brokers. They cannot start their own real estate companies, and from a licensing standpoint, the standards are lower to achieve licensing than brokers. In New York State, agents are known as Licensed Real Estate Salespersons.
Realtors are brokers or agents who belong to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Realtors have a huge presence nationally, but not in New York City. New York State and City have very strict laws and codes of conduct that encapsulate any NAR guidelines.
PRO TIP: Industry jargon
In the NYC real estate community, we tend to use the terms broker and agent interchangeably. Agents/Brokers are required by law to have their official NYS title on their business cards and all advertising and marketing materials. It’s rare to come across an agent promoting themselves as Realtors in NYC as it brings little practical benefit to the agent.
This article follows the vernacular, and uses agent and broker interchangeably. If a distinction is required, I will let you know.
Core Responsibilities of a Real Estate Broker
A broker performs a comparative market analysis (CMA) to determine your condo’s market value based on local market data and recent sales of comparable properties.
Read more about this critical function in our article: Pricing Your NYC Condominium to Sell: Strategies and Tips.
Listing and Marketing Your Condo
Brokers list your property for sale to the public and use various marketing strategies to attract potential buyers.
We dive deeper into the subject here: Marketing Your NYC Condo for Maximum Exposure.
Showing Your Property and Gathering Offers
Brokers will show your home to prospective buyers. This typically involves private showings and public open houses. Your broker interacts with the buyer’s brokers or the buyers directly to gather offers to purchase your property.
PRO TIP: How to show an apartment.
“Here is the living room” doesn’t cut it. Your broker isn’t there to state the obvious, but to paint a picture of ownership and experiences. As seasoned brokers, we learned long ago that you have more success by actively listening rather than talking.
Negotiation and Closing
Brokers represent you during negotiation and handle paperwork, making the closing process seamless.
This topic is of vital importance and has many layers. You will want to check out Navigating Offers and Negotiations for Your NYC Condominium for an in-depth treatment of the subject.
Top Factors to Consider When Choosing a Real Estate Broker
Selecting the right broker involves assessing various factors. The problem is that many bad brokers sound great.
I hope some of these tips and guidelines can help you sort through the pack to find a great broker who is compatible with your personality and needs.
Broker’s Knowledge of Local Condo Market
A broker with extensive knowledge of the local condo market can provide accurate pricing, trends, and insights into buyer preferences.
This doesn’t mean that the broker necessarily sold more units in your building than another broker, but that they understand your building, neighborhood, and works in the price range that your unit is likely to sell in.
In other words, if you’re selling a 4-bedroom penthouse, you may not want to go with someone who has only sold studio apartments.
Experience and Track Record in Selling Condos
Brokers with a proven track record in condo sales understand the unique factors and challenges associated with selling condos.
This is similar to my last point, but the specifics of the condo application process and path towards closing have subtle differences from that of co-operative apartments and townhouses.
Marketing Strategy and Techniques
Effective brokers employ diverse, innovative marketing techniques to reach a broad audience of potential buyers.
PRO TIP: Bigger is better.
Smaller, “boutique” firms cannot compete with large firms in marketing and advertising. The major real estate companies have fully staffed departments dedicated to advertising and marketing as well as millions of dollars invested in technology to facilitate a broad campaign across digital, social media, print and national/international exposure. (Condos are the overwhelming choice for foreign nationals in New York, so this is an important consideration)
References and Reviews
Online Reviews: Useful or not?
Online reviews can give you some insights into the broker’s professionalism, service quality, and reputation. However, I don’t recommend relying solely on online commentary.
It’s too easy to fake great reviews, and bad reviews can be the spiteful lashing out of someone not happy with results outside the broker’s control.
More useful than online reviews are …
Seeking Testimonials from Previous Clients
Instead of relying on online reviews, ask for personal references you can call directly. Obviously, they will proffer past clients who had positive experiences, but having a conversation with someone can yield genuine insight.
Commission Structure and Associated Costs
Understanding the broker’s commission structure and any additional costs upfront can prevent unpleasant surprises later.
To expand upon “additional costs”, there shouldn’t be any fees charged by the real estate broker other than their commission – which is only due if the property transacts under the terms of the listing agreement.
The best brokers don’t discount their services. The best brokers ensure that you have the best opportunity to get the highest price possible, and that difference in revenue more than covers the lack of a discount.
PRO TIP: The Seller’s pricing fallacy
It’s a common fallacy among sellers that their home will sell for X dollars irrespective of who lists it. The marketing, sales, and negotiation efforts of great brokers ensure more qualified buyers will see your property and you will get the best price possible.
Personal Chemistry and Communication Skills
Choose a broker who is easy to work with, communicates effectively, and aligns with your needs and preferences.
Questions to Ask a Prospective Real Estate Broker
Before finalizing your broker choice, consider asking some or all of these important questions. This isn’t intended as a list to be rattled off one after the other. Its purpose is to highlight points you will want to raise during a normal conversation with the prospective broker.
Ultimately you want to connect with the person and feel comfortable with them. In our business Dina and I value the fact that our clients entrust their greatest asset to us and trust our experience and expertise to effectively represent them and their property.
Questions Regarding Broker’s Experience
Inquire about their years of experience, particularly with condo sales, and their success rate.
Questions Pertaining to Marketing and Advertising Strategy
Understand their approach to marketing and the platforms they use for property exposure.
Questions About Commission
Clarify the commission percentage, additional costs, and what services they cover.
Questions About Local Market and Comparable Condo Sales
Ask about recent condo sales in your area and how your property compares.
Questions About Contract Terms and Length
Review contract details, including duration, termination rights, and obligations on both sides.
Red Flags to Watch Out For When Selecting a Real Estate Broker
While you hunt for the ideal broker, be wary of these red flags that might signal potential issues.
Unrealistically High Property Valuations
Brokers promising significantly high property valuations may just be trying to secure your business.
PRO TIP: Buying the listing.
This practice is called “buying the listing”. An unscrupulous broker appeals to the emotion of greed and promises you a sales price far above that of other brokers’ estimates. The temptation is strong – you don’t want to leave $25,000 on the table, do you?
What could go wrong if I try?
What goes wrong is that you will receive no offers, and after a period of time the broker will approach you for a price reduction. But since you’ve been on the market at a ridiculous price, and everyone can see your price history, that first price adjustment will likely fail. Now you’ve been on the market many months, and your property carries the stigma of “what’s wrong with it?”
You end up selling for less than the other brokers initially valued your home at, or you switch brokers after wasting months and damaging the “credibility” of your unit.
If a broker promises a sales price out of line with her peers, press her to justify her analysis with facts.
Limited Availability or Responsiveness
A broker should be readily available and responsive, ensuring your property receives necessary attention.
Perhaps you’ve watched reality real estate TV shows. The star broker breezes in and gets the listing (aided in no small party that the sellers hope to be on TV). But what they don’t show you is that other than filming canned scenes, those sellers will never see that broker again, nor will they be able to reach him on the phone.
You want to be sure that you know who you’re working with. Team members can be just fine, but you don’t want to be ghosted by the person you’ve entrusted with your sale.
Lack of a Comprehensive Marketing Plan
A broker without a detailed marketing plan could struggle to attract the right buyers. Here bigger is better. The larger firms have the most marketing impact.
We covered this. Small firms cannot compete. They often try and frame themselves as “experts” in your property genre, and that they have access to hundreds of private buyers.
PRO TIP: I have an extensive list of buyers from another sale just for you.
A broker from a small “boutique” firm presents themselves as an expert and says, “I just sold property XYZ which is just like yours, and I have an abundance of buyers who missed out on XYZ that I can bring if you choose me to list your property.”
Your response should be:
“Great! If I choose to go with another broker, I’ll reach out to you so you can bring your buyers and earn a co-broke commission!”
In real-life these buyers rarely exist, and even if they do, do you trust someone who is tacitly implying that they will help you sell your property ONLY if they get your listing?
There is no reason for him NOT to bring buyers to any listing he can.
Pushy or High-Pressure Sales Tactics
Avoid brokers who rush you into decisions or employ high-pressure tactics, indicating a lack of professionalism.
Go with your gut. You don’t have to become best friends with your broker, but you should be compatible with them, and you should feel comfortable trusting them.
Leveraging Technology in Selling Your Condo
Today’s real estate market thrives on technology, making it a crucial factor in your condo sale strategy. As I’ve pointed out in previous sections, smaller, “boutique”, firms simply don’t have the technological resources to match the larger firms.
Importance of Online Marketing in Today’s Real Estate Landscape
Online marketing tools offer vast reach, targeting potential buyers where they spend most of their time – online.
Fun Fact: How many real estate searches are online?
Over 96% of real estate searches begin online.
Evaluating a Broker’s Online Presence
A broker with a strong online presence can ensure your condo gets optimal online visibility.
Quality visuals enhance your listing’s appeal, making it crucial for your broker to offer these services.
Virtually all brokers have access to professional photography, so while vital, shouldn’t be an issue.
Utilizing Social Media and Real Estate Platforms for Exposure
Brokers should leverage various platforms like social media and real estate websites to maximize your condo’s exposure.
In the recurring theme of marketing power, the large firms have social media experts and a wide variety of automated assets to effectively highlight your listing.
Conclusion: Making the Right Choice for Your Condo Sale
Choosing the right real estate broker can make the difference between a stressful ordeal and a smooth, profitable condo sale. By considering the broker’s experience, local market knowledge, marketing strategy, and use of technology, you can ensure a successful sale that meets your expectations.
I hope this guide has helped you, and of course Dina and I would love to work with you personally. You can call, email or text us to chat about your situation. Looking forward to hearing from you!
Where to next?
Continue on to the next article in the Selling Your NYC Condominium – A Step-by-Step Guide section: Preparing Your NYC Condominium for Sale. To return to the previous article in the series, click HERE.
You can jump directly to the main page for all of our informative articles concerning condominiums HERE.
Do you have any questions? Feel free to reach out to Michael and Dina to discuss your situation with you and address any questions you may have about real estate.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
What is the average commission for a real estate broker when selling a NYC condo?
The average commission is typically 6% of the sale price, but it can vary depending on the market conditions and the broker.
How can I verify the experience and credibility of a real estate broker?
You can verify a broker’s credibility by checking their license status at the NYS Department of State, seeking testimonials from previous clients, and interviewing them about their experience.
What should a good marketing plan from a real estate broker include?
A robust marketing plan should include professional photos, online marketing, open house schedules, and a strategy for pricing and negotiations.
What are the benefits of choosing an experienced real estate broker for selling my condo?
Experienced brokers bring in-depth knowledge of the market, including pricing trends, buyer preferences, and network of potential buyers.
How does technology and online marketing play a role in selling a condo?
Technology enables broad exposure of your listing, targeting potential buyers via social media, real estate websites, and online advertising. It also facilitates virtual tours, increasing the appeal of your listing.