Getting The Most From Your Real Estate Agent

I actually have a moment to breathe…and blog today and I’m inspired by an email that I received from one of my buyers this morning regarding our property tour on Friday and 4 open houses on Sunday (I have removed the addresses to respect confidentiality):

Here’s a summary of what we saw today and our impressions. Sorry for the brain dump. We went and saw 4 places. 2 were from your list and 2 were random nearby places slightly out of our price range but we took a look for laughs to see what the places look like and whether we thought they were well priced or not.

1. Riverside Drive -. This was a Condo with low fees. It was beautifully remodeled, recent condo conversion. Light was great. Building was great. View of the park. No kitchen to speak of and the LR layout was limiting. Potential to be noisy next to 96th / Riverside intersection and a basketball court under the window, but didn’t seem too bad. This was also just moved down from 1.2M. If it came down another 100k, maybe… but for this price a kitchen would be nice.

2. West End Avenue- Top place so far. Low maint. Needs a bit of TLC, with a new kitchen, floors redone, bathroom work, skim coat, etc. But this didn’t need to be done right away. Definitely a lot of space, with 2 bed / 2 bath plus a maid’s room. And a washer/dryer is really huge for us. Overall no light to speak of, except in the master BR, which has a potential to be noisy but I think I could get over it. Also the LR was pretty small. We liked this the best as it was very similar to the "other one" in state of repair, but the bonus maid’s room with a W/D really got us excited as an office, guest area, future nursery. The biggest thing I hated about this place was that it was a busy corner but we would buy it.

3. W 90’s- Ok, definitely out of our price range. It was a 3BR/1.5 bath plus a DR and a study. The place needed a gut renovation figured at about 300k, and has a 1500/month maint. We went to see it since it was so much space we thought maybe we could live with the condition for a while and repair over time, but it’s unlivable. A ton of stairs to get the stroller up was a pain too, but the light, the neighborhood, the kids in the building. Oh well. If you could get the broker to spot us the extra 450k and a place to live for 6 months we’ll go back with an architect on Monday.

4. W 70’s-. 2BR/2Bath Condo. Love the neighborhood. Dark. Tiny Kitchen. Hard to get over the cramped feeling with all the stuff they had in there. Plus your colleague needs to get them to get rid of all the family photos and half their furniture. Anyway, at 150k more than #2, there’s no way that the neighborhood would make up for the size. Guess condo’s aren’t worth it to us.

So, summary of the past 3 days of looking:

* "Space" is important to us. We really get excited by a bonus room / area. Something that could be a DR / Office for the near term, then a nursery in a few years helps us picture being there 5+ years.
* Quiet is important, but really I think it’s the bedrooms that I’d like to be quiet vs. the living area.
* An open kitchen or at least wide enough for two people to work is important.
* A bathroom that has some space to move around is important. Not a fan of sitting on the toilet to shave (sounds efficient to me).
* Washer / dryer important, or at least easy to get to.
* State of repair isn’t that important as long as we can live there and remodel over time. 2 bath nice to live through bath remodel.
* Light is important, but not as much as space.

The places that do ok against this criteria:

1. WEA. Can you talk to the broker and get a feel for the level of interest, building, closing flexibility, pricing etc.?

2. W 70’s- Love the layout and the location. Building leaves us a little cold, and worried a bit about the short term construction issues. Also with only 1 bath, problematic to remodel the bath. Overall we spent a good amount of time thinking about the possibilities. Maint 400/month more than WEA, but would see some value in the amenities. Maybe worth asking the broker the level of interest in this place too.

Ultimately, interested to see if these places are well priced or not. Also interested if either of these are "once in a lifetime" deals. How often does "Great Aunt Izze" leave an estate that includes a 2BR in "that building" with those views? And how often does a classic 5 show up on the market for under a mil? Does it seem like there is more supply coming onto the market, and feel any change in the past week or two with all of the rate cuts.

It doesn’t get much better than this as far as providing feedback to your real estate agent.  Just remember that if your agent is listening…and I mean truly listening, s/he will be able to sort out your wish list from reality and successfully navigate your search and negotiate a deal for your new home.

And regarding this buyer’s question on supply…I don’t see enough supply hitting the market to effect any change in prices as demand remains high.

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