Banishing the "B- Word" Your Broker as Selling Partner

Selling your apartment in New York is serious business. If you're thinking of selling your co-op or condo, the question of where to even list the property for sale alone may be enough to keep you up nights, to say nothing of putting a fair market price on it, arranging for prospective buyers to come in and view what you're offering, and finally closing the deal. There are countless little (and not-so-little) things to worry about, and if you're a normal, mortal human with a job, maybe a family, and a life to lead, you may find yourself in serious need of help - the kind of help that a professional real estate broker may be just able to provide.

Going It Alone

Before delving into the topic, however, it should be pointed out that it's not patently impossible to sell your own apartment in a city like New York. It can be done, of course, but the commitment of time and energy required is often prohibitive. According to Andrew Hieberger, chairman and president of CitiHabitats, a Manhattan rental brokerage that has in the last two or three years been edging into the sales market, "For an owner to put their own property on the market, the number-one place to put it would be the New York Times, and then pick all the big brokerage companies from the paper and fax it over to their listings department." But, says Hieberger, "Brokers have a network that there's no way a private owner could assemble."

Brokers also know the ins and outs of the complicated closing and board approval processes - knotty procedures that can take forever and drain even the most enthusiastic participant. According to John Lawrence, executive vice president and sales manager of Manhattan's Bellmarc Realty, "[A buyer] has to have their pre-qualifications and letters ahead of time, and the stuff that's necessary for the board package. Because once the contract's done, [you] only have about 10 to 20 days to get the board package in, and you're talking about letters from past job experiences, personal references, bank statements, bank reference letters, stock brokerage statements, so it's going to be quite overwhelming."

Bobbing for Brokers

Of course, as with engaging any other professional service provider, the first step to working with a broker to sell your apartment is actually finding one. Real estate is practically a spectator sport here in New York, so it's no surprise that there are scores - if not hundreds - of brokers jockeying to represent sellers and their properties. Weeding through the masses to find someone compatible with you, your schedule, and your expectations can seem daunting.

According to Karen Duncan of the Corcoran Group in Manhattan, "[You] should interview at least three brokers, and choose the one you have the best chemistry with and who you think would work the hardest and has a good handle on the market. Mostly, though, I think it's about the relationship you feel you would be able to establish with the person who would be showing and eventually selling your home."


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