Home Buying in New York>Question Details

Kim, Home Buyer in New York, NY

Do I really need to get a buyers agent when looking for a condo in NYC?

Asked by Kim, New York, NY Sat May 3, 2008

I have been doing my own research and going to open houses and scheduling appointments on my own. I am negotiating price on my own. I have a real estate attorney (I am a RE attorney myself). But I wonder if I am somehow short-changing myself by not having a buyers agent represent me. Any (unbiased) thoughts would be appreciated.

Help the community by answering this question:


You're asking for unbiased, so here it goes.

In Manhattan, co-broking is common. A buyer's broker's commission is built in the asking price, especially in new developments.

Personally, if I were in your shoes, I would hire a buyer's broker and sign the commission agreement. As an attorney you know without the signed agreement, your broker is just a sub-agent for the seller. If you want someone in your corner w/ comps, notices of new listings, negotiation, etc... then get one.
Sounds like you you're in a better position than most buyers, so you may not need one, but then again... look at your current situation.

Just keep in mind, if you choose to proceed w/o one, that you can't assume there's a savings, on your part. The listing agent is very likely to receiving all of the commission, which can be 5, 6 or 7%. Listing agents tend to love unrepresented buyers for this reason.

The only downside to withdrawing your offer is possibly missing out on a great apartment that you liked enough to make an offer on. Only you can determine what's more important to you: this apartment you feel you may be overpaying or getting a good value on a better or worse apartment.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon May 5, 2008

You should always have a trained and knowledge filled professional working by your side when purchasing a home!

If you have not yet signed contracts, there are ways of getting the price dropped. Your lawyer should have suggestions that work, but there are other ways that a savvy broker can work that for you (provided the developer doesn't have a back up offer). If you have problems getting a reduction, get in touch.

Good Luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue May 20, 2008
If you choose to engage in buyer agency, you likely know, as a lawyer, that the NYDOS disclosure will suffice. Signing the buyer agency "contract" is evidence of your willingness to pay a buyer broker if the seller WON'T; if the buyer's agent isn't able to accomplish this, why sign a contract? The disclosure, in my opinion only, would seem to be evidence enough of "buyer agency". As a lawyer, your input would be amazing.
Web Reference: http://optionsrealty.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon May 19, 2008

I am a broekr in NYC. There are some really good answers here which should have helped you greatly.

At the end of the day, a buyers broker will know the research that you found out after the fact, beforehand.
There is no way you can expect to negotiate with a seller and drop your offer in this city.
That's part of negotiating 101. You start low and come up if needed. Never start high and come down.
It would be better to lowball completely and express that "It''s just our starting point" than to offer asking and then later reduce significantly. That just makes a seller leery of doing a deal with you.

Best of luck with your search for a new home.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon May 19, 2008
Kim, Hi.

As much research as you do on your own, on Trulia, or Property Shark or any other web site, even brokerage websites you can't possibly know everything about the specific building. There is much more that a broker can share with you about a building or a unit that maybe they sold before, or their colleague sold at, that on your own it would be impossible for you to aquire. Save your self the headache and get a broker to work with you side by side, you being a lawyer in New York and being trained to read contracts this whole deal from making an offer to the closing table could probably happen in half the time for you. You wouldn't want a general Dr removing your gold bladder, leave the real estate to a professional broker :).

Best of Luck with your future new apartment.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue May 13, 2008
Vast majority of transactions in Manhattan is done with 2 brokers. One represents the seller and the other the buyer.
There is a reason for it. You want someone on your side looking out for your best interests and that will most definitely not be the sellers broker who has his loyalties - his fiduciary duty - under a signed contract to the seller. Why would you not want someone on your side ? Especially if it is free. The commission is built into the purchase price one way or another and it will all go to the listing broker. Majority of what is on the market in Manhattan is listed by all the premier brokerages and the are all members of REBNY - Real Estate Board of NY. Cobroke is the NORM. Maybe 10% of all transactions happen directly with only the sellers broker. In addition if you work with a broker who is a REBNY member and you are buying in Manhattan or Brooklyn that broker automaticaly represents you in a cobroke situation. Having someone support you, helping you in determining what is a good value and generally protect you is one thing. The other thing is that there is actually a LOT of work involved once you have an accepted offer. It becomes a real job to take care of and things need to be orchestrated and monitored carefully...........
Best of luck
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 8, 2008
Hi Kim

Do you need a buyers agent? The answer is NO

Should you use one? Depends on the broker you are using....

I can tell you in some particular developments I have sold multiple units and because of that fact I have developed a relationship with them. Because of that relationship I have been able to get certain deals done. Some have been with a deep discount, to getting certain units released in a building, to even getting 3% off of closing costs.

So could you do the work yourself? Sure you could, but if that SPECIAL broker could save you more in the long run, you might want to reconsider.
Web Reference: http://www.elliman.com/pcm
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun May 4, 2008
Knowing that the seller of property has agreed to pay a cooperating broker should be enough when you enter into negotiations for yourself. If they haven't, that's where it's sticky, as you know- a buyer of real estate in NY should be aware of the offer of compensation for cooperating brokers. If cooperation is offered, it's in the price that you're paying.
Web Reference: http://optionsrealty.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat May 3, 2008
Isn't any broker's fee always implicitly incorporated into the price of a unit, whether seller broker or seller and buyer broker fees?
Flag Tue Apr 10, 2012
I don't think you need one, especially if you are a r/e lawyer already. You can get all the comps you need on streeteasy and nytimes.com.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat May 3, 2008
A number of firms in NYC will not co-broker meaning that they will not split the commission with the buyers agent, so you'll have to pay them. If you're a RE attorney in NYC area, you probably knew this already but just wanted to make sure. If you're working with a buyer's agent who is sending you listing, you may want to make sure they're not omitting listing that won't co-broke or FSBO if you don't have a contract with them.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat May 3, 2008

The error probably occured when you made an offer -- then did your research -- and then made a lower offer. We can't speak for the seller's agent or NYC regulations, but we can let you know what would have happened if it was here in our area. Since we were the listing agent and also representing you (the buyer), we would be called a "dual agent". That means, that we would have written up the paperwork, but our manager would have made the presentation to the seller. This is done so that there is no "conflict". Once the offer is accepted, we would work with both of you until the closing. Any negotiation would have been done by our manager. Although our first priority would be to the seller because we represented them first, in reality our job is to satisfy both the buyer and the seller -- everyone should walk away feeling they made the "best deal they could on the property they want to both buy and sell". Again, you may want to either go back to your original offer -- but before that research the internet what similar properties are selling for in the area. If they meet your original offer, then it's up to you to make a decision. If they match your second offer, then point this out to the agent. You may also want to see if the agent's manager can help you with your situation. Good luck and keep us posted.

Gail and JOe
Web Reference: http://jerseyjoerealtor.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat May 3, 2008
If I were purchasing a property, I would want to have someone who was representing my best interests.
Web Reference: http://GailGladstone.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat May 3, 2008
Gail and Joe -- we made one offer on a condo (new construction) that had a listing agent, and it was accepted. After doing further diligence on the property with our attorney, we decided it was reasonable to go in for a price reduction. We're at a stalemate with the seller for the time being. I wonder if having a buyers agent would have helped us in this situation. I am just thinking ahead -- if we pass on this and continue to look for other condos, is it prudent to have a buyers agent going forward? How many people in NYC actually use buyers agents when buying?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat May 3, 2008

We're agents in New Jersey and although we can't speak specifically to the New York regulations, we do have one question -- you are negotiating the price yourself. It sounds as though you've made some offers and they were not accepted? Is this correct? If you're negotiating directly with an owner, then you are working with people who have not listed their properties with a realtor. Then you continue the entire process yourself. There are other situations, i.e. the property is listed by a realtor, or the for sale by owner will work with a realtor -- if you fall into one of the others, then there are additional answers to your question. Do yo fall into the other categories?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat May 3, 2008
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