StreetEasy’s Premier Agent program has been growing in popularity. Even notable New York City real estate agents, brokers, and brokerages that previously shunned the service have been signing on, helping it to gain even wider market acceptance. This means that as a buyer you are more likely to come across an agent seeking to represent you through this program when searching condo and co-ops for sale on the site. Therefore, we explain the ins-and-outs for you to be a more informed buyer.

How it works

Under the Premier Agent program, which launched in March, a real estate brokerage can purchase buyer leads, which it can distribute to its agents as it sees fit. In practice, the brokerage firm or agent pays a fee to be the default contact included on the right side of the property listing. The broker can select multiple zip codes where he/she wishes to advertise.

If you are looking for apartments for sale on StreetEasy, and you click on a listing, information on the selling agent and an agent seeking to represent you, the buyer, appears. You can fill out your contact information online to reach out to the premier buyer agent

Conduct due diligence

We believe a buyer obtaining his/her exclusive representation is positive and recommended by NY State. StreetEasy encourages this through its program. However, keep in mind that your broker/agent might be good at marketing themselves, but the onus is on you to conduct further due diligence. Remember, this could very well be the most expensive purchase in your lifetime.

With that in mind, we have compiled thoughtful areas to probe with an agent you find through StreetEasy.

Experience counts

New York State issues licenses for real estate brokers and agents. An agent must pass a written exam, and brokers must receive further training and testing. In New York State, to qualify to become a broker, you are required to have been a real estate salesperson for 1,750 hours over at least one year (or have 3500 hours equivalent experience over at least two years); and have earned 1,750 experience points as a salesperson or 3,500 points through equivalent experience. Thus, a broker should have more know-how than an agent.

However, this does not mean he or she can meet your needs.

  • How long has your agent/broker been in the business?

    You should find out how long your agent has been in the business, This can be done through Google searches, online reviews and testimonials, as well as reviewing previous sales they have worked on. Whether you find a seasoned agent that understands the market, has seen the various industry cycles or a newer one that is eager, a full-time real estate agent is a must. The real estate industry is known to attract part-timers that quickly drop out and lack the know-how and ability to advise on your purchase.

  • Does your agent know your targeted neighborhood(s)?

    You want to make sure your agent knows the neighborhood you are interested in living in or perhaps able to recommend other based on your lifestyle needs. New York City is diverse, with many different areas that are always changing. The StreetEasy program allows agents and brokers to focus on a particular zip code. This is fine, but you want to ensure he or she has the proper knowledge. Talk to the agent and ask questions about the neighborhood, such as the proximity to transportation and average sales prices in the area, etc. He or she should be able to answer these intelligently.

  • Does your agent know the inventory and can he/she gain access?

    A proactive buyer’s agent that is responsive and well-educated on available or even future inventory will no doubt be a valuable asset. New York is a transparent marketplace with all properties usually listed on StreetEasy. However, an agent/broker with a deep routed network of other agents/brokers may know of a listing that will soon be coming to market, and you might have the opportunity of getting in before the listing on StreetEasy. Additionally, if you are in the market for new development and there is a special one in the works, you will find it difficult to get in early without a well-connected buyer’s agent. “Schedule A” pricing, or the better floorplans may be out of your reach because most developers sell many of the units before beginning to market listings online.

Probing deeper

  • Does your agent know the financial and other requirements needed to purchase a co-op or condo?

    If the agent has sold a lot of units in the neighborhood, he or she should be familiar with at least several buildings and boards. The agent should be able to find a suitable building and help you expedite a board application and ace your interview in the case of a coop.

  • How well does your agent communicate?

    Ensuring your agent communicates well is the most important character trait. You want to know your agent is accessible and responsive. This includes letting you know about new listings immediately when they come to market, gaining access, and knowing his/her way around the negotiating process.

  • How does your agent determine the price you should offer, particularly in a bidding war?

    Deciding your offering price is partly an art and running a comparable market analysis, and this is where your buyer’s agent experience and knowledge comes into play. Convincing the seller’s broker and seller that your profile and financials can pass muster with the board may tip the scale in your favor, even if your offer is lower than the competition. Industry relationships can also play a role if your buyer’s agent knows the listing agent and has even perhaps done a deal with him/her before will likely give you an edge. The better connected your buyer’s agent, the better connected you are.

  • Does your agent have a list of experts to recommend to you?

    A seasoned agent should also be able to recommend others to help you. You will need a broad range of services, including a lender, real estate attorney, home inspector, as well as painters/contractors. The more experienced your buyer’s agent, the better the resources they will have.

  • Do I have to pay for a buyers agent to represent me?

    The commission is split between the seller’s and buyer’s agent. Although it is paid for by the seller at closing, the commission is built into the sales price, meaning buyers are essentially paying the fee. In other words, if you found the apartment on your own, you still pay the 5%-6% commission through the sales price since the seller’s agent keeps the entire amount.

    Since you pay this amount whether or not you have your representation, you should have your agent that oversees your interests. For more information, click here.

Lastly, whoever you hire for your home search will be spending a lot of time with you – pretty much every Sunday from the time you get serious. You want to be comfortable with this person and enjoy their company. Mark L

There are different types of buyers agents

Dual agency is the most prominent real estate company structure in New York City. However, it can present a conflict of interest. For example, if you connect with a buyer’s agent through StreetEasy that is an associate at ACME Realty and he/she takes you to an ACME property listing, this means the company the associate works for owes its fiduciary duty to the seller. Our article on the NYS agency disclosure form will help you understand the role of an agent.

You should ask whether he/she is an exclusive buyer’s agent. If so, he/she might be a member of the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents (NAEBA), which owes a fiduciary duty to buyers only and never list properties. When buying a home, you need an advisor that is working for you. The goal of the agent should be to help you purchase the right property for the right price. For a true buyer’s agent, it is the art of not selling.

This is where experience matters. When purchasing an asset, you need an unbiased voice and someone that will tell you his/her honest opinion whether the property is worth buying and at what price, or even if not worth buying at all.

A listing agent’s job is to sell, and a buyer’s agents job is to advise and look after your best interest at all times.

Concluding thoughts

There are obvious benefits to technology. However, it is not a substitute for doing your homework. Therefore, we have presented additional areas to explore. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, since it is crucial for you to decipher if you have a knowledgeable agent or one that is just getting started. You should also inquire about references, and call them.

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