With the proliferation of information, particularly on the Internet, there is a temptation to forgo a real estate agent. You should resist this urge, however. Buyers value real estate agents as advisors in the home buying process that use their expertise to help you find the right home in a great building while making sure you do not overpay.

We elaborate on the services you can expect, which are difficult for the average New York City homebuyer to replicate.

Knows neighborhoods

An agent has expert knowledge of New York City’s many neighborhoods. He/she spends his days with eyes and ears on the ground, which goes beyond simply looking online to research a neighborhood.

This also extends to providing advice on buildings, where his/her knowledge is even more crucial. Your agent knows whether the board is strict or laxer, including in their enforcement of the house rules. These are important considerations for you when deciding where to live.

Online searches are time-consuming, and may not reflect accurate or up-to-date information.

Helps with details

Your agent can help you narrow your search by focusing on what is important to you. He/she assists in separating your wants and needs. There are certain things you realize are a must have for you, while others are nice, but you can live without it. Your agent, through his/her experience, can help you distinguish between the two.

There are also the nitty-gritty details that an agent handles. These include picking apartments for you to see and making appointments. You can do this yourself, but it is time-consuming and an agent knows which apartments and buildings are worth your time, based on your search criteria.

Formulate an offer

A buyer’s agent has access to all kinds of information. He/she knows the fair value for a property, which is partly based on comps. You may have access to some of this information, but not all of it. Additionally, there is a certain art to this, particularly in certain situations and your agent has gained a lot of market expertise that can help you make sure you pay a fair price. A seller may accept a lower offer if you have a greater chance of passing the board’s muster, and your agent knows how to present this properly.

An exclusive buyer’s agent works for you and ensures you have proper representation. He/she will also advise you on when it is time to walk away. It is an emotional experience, and an agent provides expert and objective advice.


A real estate agent has built an extensive network of experts. You need a variety of people to buy a home, and even once you move in. This list includes a lawyer, lender, insurance agent, even a locksmith. Your agent likely has built an impressive array of contacts over the years and has multiple companies for you to interview. 

You pay anyway

It is natural to think you can skip hiring a buyer’s agent and save your half of the commission. However, it does not work that way. In reality, the seller pays the fee, which is typically 4% – 6%. Should you forgo representation, the listing agent merely keeps the entire amount, rather than splitting it equally between him/her and the buyer’s agent.

You can search for sale by owners (FSBO), but there is no guarantee the seller is going to share the savings with you, and there is a lot more legwork involved.


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