There has been a lot of ink (not literally) about real estate brokers as part of the problem in the real estate sale process.

But what about their side of the story?

In this Sunday’s My Broker, My Therapist [NYT] article by Teri Rogers, she explores the difficulty that New York brokers have dealing with their clients. (note: The Halstead real estate broker used in the cover photo has got to be one of the luckiest brokers around.)

Brokers, like therapists, have to understand what buyers really want in order to help them get it. While that might seem easy, it is not, because buyers often don’t know themselves what they would like — hence an old real estate maxim, “Buyers are liars.”

I think many critics of brokers, don’t fully understand what they have to go through to make a living. Its a very tough business. They are paid on commission. Both buyer and seller are usually not revealing their entire financial and personal situation which would be relevant to the sale. Broker colleagues are not always candid or a limited by prior agreement as to what they can reveal. A deal can die at the whim of a co-op board. The couple, parties, etc. may not be in agreement or may have different motivations as to why this transaction is occuring in the first place. Brokers try to assess their client’s needs [NYT], but its difficult because the buyers don’t usually know it themselves.

The sheer emotional aspects of a real estate transactions can bring out the worst in all of us.

Some of the notable quotes were:

  • “More so than any other profession, I think you get to see the window of people’s inner souls in a kind of hyper-reality superquick time,” said Rob Gross, a senior vice president of Prudential Douglas Elliman.

  • Mercedes Menocal Gregoire, an agent for Stribling & Associates, is surprised at what is sometimes revealed. “People get absolutely shameless in front of you,” she said….”In the middle of Park Avenue, she started screaming at the top of her lungs: ‘I can’t take it anymore. You never give me what I want.’ He says, ‘I give you whatever you want,’ and he bought her the apartment.”

And my personal favorite:

  • “Public fighting is the worst,” said Diane Saatchi, a senior vice president of the Corcoran Group East End in East Hampton. She described the frustrated wife, shopping for a $3 million summer home, who turned to her husband and uttered one line that said it all: “I wish you had a good job so we didn’t have to live like this.”

I suspect the broker will get to sell that summer house again real soon – so perhaps the instability of their clients can lead to more sales. [wink]


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