Buying and selling a home is a stressful, nuanced experience no matter where you are in the world. Navigating this experience in the greatest city on Earth is another experience entirely.
Real estate dealings in the Big Apple are like the Wild Wild West. With millions of people grappling for the perfect place to call home, a skilled realtor acts as a fierce negotiator, a trusted advisor, and the ace in the hand during transactions.
Here are five secrets of New York’s top real estate agents so that you can make it here— or anywhere.
A Buyer’s Agent is a Game-Changer
There’s a common misconception that when you convey interest in a home that’s for sale, the agent works for you. They don’t; they work for the seller or themselves. One of the best lessons agents learn during state-approved pre-license training is that the seller or developer plays the role of employer during a real estate transaction.
If you want a broker who works for you, you need to find a buyer’s agent and enlist their services. In most cases, the buyer’s agent takes a cut of the seller’s commission upon closing. However, it’s essential to determine whether there are any other fees associated that you as the buyer will pay out of pocket. In highly competitive markets like New York, it’s well worth the effort to find a buyer’s agent to work on your behalf.
Commissions Are Negotiable
Another secret that New York’s top realtors keep close to the vest is that anything is negotiable— even their commissions. If you have a property that holds a lot of interest or potential, you’ll likely be able to find a realtor who will negotiate their commission to take the listing. The same strategy applies when looking at boutique agencies and independent realtors over big brokerages.
If you’re selling an in-demand property that should be quick to sell or have a seven-figure listing price— not uncommon in NYC— ask a realtor if they’ll cut their commission by one percent. In most cases, the cut is well worth taking over the high-return listing.
Beware of Zoning Issues
Zoning issues are a nightmare in NYC, especially if you’re looking at a fixer-upper. Many realtors will avoid discussing zoning limitations entirely, as they have the potential to derail a sale. Many will intentionally learn as little as possible about a building’s zoning laws, so they can’t be held liable for the issues you face with doing renovations.
Before you jump on a property or even a location, take the time to do some independent research about local zoning regulations. Even if you go in prepared, you’re guaranteed to run into plenty of red tape.
Always Choose an Independent Inspector and Attorney
Even the most trustworthy realtors have an agenda. While your agent will undoubtedly have a recommended home inspector you can call, it’s better to take the name and number of their contact, then find someone entirely unconnected. This approach ensures you get an unbiased review of the home before you buy.
The same strategy applies to hiring an attorney. Technically, you can get through the purchase or sale of a home without an attorney. However, having a third party look over all of the paperwork before you sign is highly recommended in NYC.
Staging and Lighting Are Everything
If you’re selling a home in New York, it’s well worth your while to invest in professional staging. Even in a seller’s market, the right staging can increase your baseline offers and decrease your time on the market. Some well-placed furniture and lighting can make a big difference in helping buyers visualize their future in your home.
NYC staging expert Sid Pinkerton said it best when he said, “If you found a financial planner who could give you an ROI of 5%, 10%, or sometimes as much as 20%, wouldn’t you think they were a genius? Well, that’s what a good stager can do.”
Whether you’re moving to the city or selling your home, keep these powerful New York real estate secrets in mind as you navigate the journey ahead.