I have penned with some frequency about the many inefficiencies that exist in the New York City real estate market and the frustration continues with property managers. My team and I seem to be hitting a wall with numerous property managers when inquiring about building policies and amenities. Now in my 16th year as an agent in the Manhattan residential real estate market, I have created a 2 page questionnaire for managing agents to complete in an effort to make the information gathering process more streamlined and efficient. Almost all managing agents see the benefit of this (primarily it decreases the number of phone calls with questions and the prevents the dissemination of inaccurate information) and have embraced the completion of this questionnaire. Some however continue to protest and make the information gathering process terribly inefficient.
Last week we signed an agreement to represent a seller of an apartment in an Upper West Side apartment building that has had a complete changing of the guard in terms of the Co-op Board. The very nature of Co-op Boards makes not only the Board itself, but the building policies on such things as guarantors, subletting, flip taxes, and pied a terres quite dynamic. Even amenities can change within months of of previous sale so it’s imperative that we gather complete and accurate information regarding all policies and amenities each time we represent a new seller in any given building. Buyers will accept nothing less and accurate and complete information makes the overall transaction process a smooth one with no surprises and therefore no financial ramifications for the parties involved. So what does a broker do when they make every attempt to gather this information, often times with the assistance of the shareholder, to no avail? This is precisely what I and my team are in the midst of right now.
A very large (award winning even…go figure…many of the shareholders they represent are puzzled by the "award winning" status after dealing with them) management company has not only charged us $100 to complete our questionnaire (much more typical these days than in the past and no big deal) but they have sent back answers in a piece meal fashion and still have left some very important questions unanswered. We are in our second week of marketing and just finally learned that there are currently no assessments. Thankfully we received building financials yesterday after waiting 10 days. We are still waiting on some official word on the building policy on pied a terres as it has changed several times in the past as well as their policy on open houses. There has been no lack of effort on our part to have these questions addressed and just yesterday we were informed by the managing agent that she has 7 business days to respond to our inquiries. It has been 10!
I absolutely appreciate that many property managers (most in fact) are over worked and underpaid but I am offering them an efficient means of providing accurate information and still some protest. It makes no sense to me. So if any property managers are reading this post (I doubt it) please let the brokerage community know how we can make your lives easier and in turn how we can best inform prospective purchasers of "current" building policies and the like? We really don’t want to make your jobs more difficult but we do owe it to our sellers and our buyers to accurately represent the property that we are selling. If I’m not mistaken, you’re job is to provide the information to help us do that?
So if your a seller, don’t be surprised if you are asked by your agent to get involved in the information gathering process and don’t assume that all the rules in your building are the same as when you purchased.
If your a buyer, don’t shoot the messenger. I and many of my colleagues do the absolute best we can to provide you with complete and accurate information regarding current building policies and amenities. We are only as good as our source so be sure to have your attorney confirm all of the information that you have been provided.
By the way, we procured another listing last week from a building managed by Hoffman Management (they managed my last co-op). Gordon Noah of Hoffman completed our questionnaire within 24 hours and has received NO email or phone correspondence from us since (except a thank you of course). We love Hoffman!
UPDATE: 2 weeks on market and although we have accepted an offer on this property we have yet to recieve the co-op questionaire that we paid to have completed. Frustrating process sometimes.