This almost sounds like you are doing us a favor Scott, by throwing your question out as to WHY you should use a broker.
You already got some great replies in this post, and let me throw in my two cents.
Yes it's true that majority of FSBO's without quoting any percentages here end up listing with a broker. I know this from personal experience because I work FSBO's all the time. At first they are confident that they can do it on their own. The building they live in is always the nicest building, the apartment they live in is always the nicest apartment with best renovations, in the best line, with the best views and best light and on and on etc...
Then they tell you that they have done this before or their friend did it back in 2006, 2007 when people were buying with eyes closed, site on seen. It's now 2009 and we may never see 2007 again.
Selling is emotional, unfortunately people have a very hard time separating emotions with a business transaction (because thatâ€™s exactly what this is, a business transaction)
Most buyers don't care for the red paint or a bathroom that you spent $50,000 which looks like it belongs in a Goth club. I think you get the point.
Most motivated sellers do not advertise on Craigs List when it comes to selling an apartment in New York. Most FSBO's I work with have had their AD on NYTimes, and For Sale by Owner, and FSBO.com and all the others. SO WHAT?
Here is the REALITY of things. I haven't met any buyer that I previously worked with who went onto FSBO sites to look for their next home? After all why would they, when they can go on the major brokerage sites or sites like Trulia and Zillow to browse, and New York Times?
Majority of buyers work with a broker anyway. Why? Because a buyer doesn't pay for the services offered.
Most buyers coming in directly are bottom feeders or sharks, they will smell blood and low ball you, even if you are priced correctly. Or the less savvy ones can ruin the deal by not having all of their financials in place, paper work, time issues...Lack of proper research, lack of comps, lack of building knowledge, area, the right attorney for the deal, etc...
If you aren't offering at minimum 3% to a buyerâ€™s broker, chances are very slim that any would bother bringing their client to show your apartment. Depending on the seller and the level of motivation, brokers tend to shy away and prefer not working with FSBO's because it can complicate the transaction. Back to Emotions. There should be a Neutral Party like a broker who can tell them (Look it's a good offer, your apartment is cookie cutter just like 50 others in your price range, and you better take this offer or Bob down the block will because he wants to sell right now not back in 2007).
If you go FSBO, and you get no action for a month, or two, or three you will be forced to lower your price, otherwise your apartment will linger for another 3 months. Now.......When you lower your price it wonâ€™t be by $10,000 or $20,000 because no one will take you seriously. It should be around 10%.
So 4 months later and 10% lower, that seller is sitting there and is thinking why did I waste 4 months and now I'm 10% less and still can't get people in when I could have had guidance and professional marketing for 6%. Now if I get an offer, it will take on average 3 months to close, if prices drop further I can have a tough buyer who will tell me at the closing table that prices dropped some more and he wants to rework the contract or otherwise he's walking away from this deal, at which point you would have to START ALL OVER AGAIN. And when it's your turn to buy, interest rates may have gone up, and prices stopped falling.
At that point, it's too late for that conversation.
You also mentioned living in Lower East Side in a new conversion from an office building. I may be wrong, but this to me sounds like Financial District. Renters go there because landlords are offering great incentives; it's very hard to attract a buyer into that area. And when you do, they will be afraid of New Developments and New Conversions for the simple fact of not knowing how stable the building is, how many units are sold, in contract, investor units. They will need to know that and the Bank will need to know that.
I believe Lincoln once said. "Any lawyer who represents himself has a client for a fool." (Not being directed at you or anyone specifically, it's just a great quote)
You just have to let go sometimes and hand it over to a pro. Let them do what they do best.
I wish you luck Scott and I'm sure that you will make the right decision, whatever it is for you.