In today’s Internet Age, real estate buyers and sellers need only to turn on their computers to surf the proliferating public websites for immediate access to all kinds of information.  With the click of a mouse, they can check out available inventory, view floor plans and photos, gain data about recorded sale prices and even join discussion boards and blogs.  When the Internet provides such easy access to information, why hire a broker?  And how does one choose from among the growing number of real estate professionals?  What makes a good broker? 


Indeed the Internet is a powerful tool for principals and brokers alike.  Though sometimes flawed with outdated or inaccurate information, as the first point of entry for any search, the Internet saves valuable time by allowing us to preview the broad landscape of competing properties from our desks.  Information alone, however, is not enough; for it to have value, the information requires analysis and judgment. 


Experienced brokers serve to evaluate and interpret information.  As consultants, we share more than our knowledge of a particular building, neighborhood or co-op board.  Adding perspective, we highlight nuances and explain market trends in a broader context.  We not only educate buyers and sellers about recent sales, but offer insights about choices and resale possibilities helping buyers and sellers to make informed decisions. 


Effective communicators, we are experts in negotiating and closing.  We know how to prioritize and identify areas for flexibility and compromise.  We know how to listen and are skilled at positioning and packaging.  We are able to champion a cause logically and persuasively to put together the best possible bid, counter offer or board package.  We are adept at guiding buyers through the increasingly arduous borrowing process, helping to identify lending professionals who will explain ever changing requirements and unpredictable scrutiny.   We are accomplished at delivering the best possible presentation to co-op boards. 


Part Diplomat, Part Shrink


Good brokers are well-versed in the psychology of buying and are armed with discretion and diplomacy.  We lend emotional support to every transaction, and are adept at hand-holding and easing stress.  More often than not, we become confidantes to our clients and customers who invariably share personal and often sensitive details.      


Good brokers have a wealth of resources at our fingertips and have strong working relationships with mortgage brokers, lenders, attorneys, designers, stagers, architects, contractors, and movers.  Our judgments are respected, and we cooperate effectively with all players involved in a transaction. 


Good brokers are creative thinkers and problem solvers.  We know how to manage expectations and have the courage and integrity to speak the truth always.  Vigilant during every step of the process leading up to a successful closing, we know how to anticipate and overcome obstacles.  We recognize that appraisals today are coming in low, so we work diligently to price realistically.  Always mindful of the transaction’s timing, we pay close attention to the calendar to acknowledge when a mortgage commitment may expire, or if a board review is taking too long since if a board interview has not occurred 30 days after the contractual closing date then either side may cancel the contract.


Much like the attorney who represents himself and has a fool for a client, the buyer or seller who goes it alone without a broker is shortchanged more often than not.  Without the benefit of professional counseling, time is wasted, money is lost, and deals go astray.  Even negotiating effectively for one’s own account is tough, because ego always gets in the way of self-intentions.  Whenever, I’ve negotiated to buy or sell a property for myself, I’ve asked a colleague to act as spokesperson for me in order to save face if I ever offended with a low offer, inadequate counter, or disparaging comment.


Buying and selling a home is not only a major financial commitment representing a significant portion of net worth; for most, it’s a pivotal life event.  Though not nearly as high on life’s stress meter as marriage or divorce, the process is fraught with emotion and anxiety.  To ensure a smooth transaction from beginning to end, buyers and sellers are advised to select the right broker.  The recommendation is to get referrals from friends or other professionals and interview your prospects.  For the best outcome possible, hire an experienced broker with sensitivity and integrity who demonstrates a willingness to provide personal attention and service and a successful track record to achieve your specific goals.