Tips & AdviceShould You Work With a Real Estate Agent?

Should You Work With a Real Estate Agent?

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The housing market in NYC is always a little crazy. But, now more than ever, finding a home on your own can seem impossible. So while it is possible to find an apartment without a broker or real estate agent, it’s extremely difficult in this housing climate. So the short answer is: yes. You should absolutely work with a real estate agent or broker. The long answer is: still probably yes, but the reasons you need one can vary. Whether you’re a first time buyer navigating a hectic market or a long time New Yorker who is too busy to look on their own, an agent is a good idea.

What Can A Real Estate Agent Do For Me?

Real estate agents are a great resource for a number of reasons. For example, if you have special conditions that have to be met, a real estate agent will have an easier time navigating those specific needs, especially when it comes to negotiations. Agents will often have relationships with the condo owners and co-op boards of properties you’re looking at, so your offer will hold more weight coming from them than it would from you.

Additionally, if you’re strictly seeking an investment opportunity, then an agent is imperative for your success. Many agents are well versed in the investment property game, and know what to look for in a house or apartment. They will also, likely, have experience interpreting economic trends and stability so you can get the best possible return on your investment. Many will even be able to help you anticipate any issues that may arise with the property, like building code violations or crime rates in the area. No matter how you look at it, having an agent is better than trying to navigate the industry alone.

Are Brokers in NYC Expensive?

We won’t lie to you, many brokers will have additional fees that come attached to them. Most of us are used to working with rental agents, where generally, you and your agents/brokers will come up with a specific deal for payment of services, usually amounting to a fee equal to one month’s rent or around 10% of the annual rent. Specific pricing limitations can be found in the Housing Security & Tenant Protection Act of 2019. Some brokerage firms for rental units even specialize in no-fee apartments. 

Sales fees, however, work a bit differently. Fees are negotiated and agreed upon ahead of time, though the usual number is about 6% of the total sale. This means that 3% of said sale goes to your agent while the other 3% goes toward the buyer’s agent. While this might seem like a large chunk of change, having an agent to represent you during a home purchase will most likely save you money in the long run. This is because good buyer’s agents can negotiate prices down, limit the number of apartments being seen, and generally save you time and energy. From the seller’s point of view, having an agent will net them more money negotiating prices up and finding buyers who can actually afford the house.

You’re also likely to save money because any reputable agent or broker you work with will know housing law inside and out, meaning they will be able to tell you if a building owner or co-op board is up to anything fishy. This is because real estate agents and brokers are licensed by the state, so they have to pass a test before they can begin to show properties. While this test doesn’t guarantee that an agent is any good at what they do, it does at least guarantee that an agent you work with will have a decent amount of housing knowledge.

What Should I Know Before Contacting An Agent?

Before you even begin to look for an agent, you’ll need to know what you want. How many bedrooms will you need? What neighborhood did you want to look in? What amenities do you want in your apartment? What amenities do you want in your building? Do you even want an apartment? Or would a townhouse be a better fit for you? Once you know what you want, You should gather all the appropriate paperwork, such as proof of employment, credit scores, and anything else a building might need from you. Doing this ahead of time will be very helpful for both you and your agent.

Things To Avoid When Choosing A Real Estate Agent

The number one thing to try and avoid is a dual agency situation, which is when a broker represents both the buyer AND the seller. As a buyer, you’d want an advocate when it comes time to negotiate, but if the broker is also representing the seller, then they may be more incentivized to advocate for the seller. Obviously, because the broker will make more money that way. However, aside from that, it’s really not a good idea to use the seller’s broker as it’ll be hard for them to remain truly neutral between the two parties. Find someone who is dedicated to you and you alone.

Dual agency is good to avoid from a seller’s perspective as well. This is because dual agents can only give material facts, and are prevented from disclosing personal information, like if a buyer is willing to pay more for a property. Additionally, having only one agent for the entire home buying process leaves far more room for error, as there is no other agent to ensure every detail in the final paperwork is accurate. 

Ideally, you’ll want someone who has experience doing this sort of thing. There always has to be a first sale for a real estate agent, but agencies usually have teams so newbies can get their feet wet. If you’re working with a single agent, and it’s their first year selling, you should make sure they absolutely make sure they have a network, know what they are doing, and will advocate for you. If you’re careful, then you can stop your dream home from turning into a nightmare.

Conclusion

The fact of the matter is: searching for a home in NYC is never going to be a cake walk. You have to be patient, but also be able to move quickly. You have to be sure you know what you want while also being extremely flexible. The process is tedious and expensive for everyone. That said, real estate agents can provide you with some relief. They are well aware of the struggles and have trained, specifically, to navigate the NYC housing markets to find the best deals for their clients. So do you need a real estate agent in NYC? Technically, no. However, you’ll have a much easier time finding a home if you have one. Need help finding an agent? Find the best agents for your area through our Top Agents portal. Just type in your location and you’ll be on your way. 

Russell Poole
Russell Poole
Russell is a writer and comic based in New York City. His plays have been featured at Penn State’s Cultural Conversation’s Festival, The NYC Thespis Festival, and Imaginarium’s Inaugural Theater Festival. Follow him on TikTok and Instagram @pooleparty528

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