I have been a licensed real estate salesperson and broker in New York City for 29 years. The business has changed dramatically by way of technology, but in my opinion, the key elements are the same. Trust and a good reputation NEVER go out of style!
With approximately 25,000 licensed brokers, there’s a tremendous amount of competition in New York City real estate. If you’re considering a career as a broker, my advice is to find a firm that provides training and then puts new brokers on teams with experienced brokers. Watching a great broker complete transactions is an indispensable education and will put you on the fast track to becoming more independent and earning more money. To be a successful broker, you’ve got to stay motivated and make sure every contact you have knows that you’re in the business. Once is not enough. It’s important to remind them periodically during personal visits or with a phone call, email, or newsletter.
Even if you’re not interested in becoming a broker yourself, there’s going to be a time when you need the services of one. Brokers generally share access to all the same listings, so I suggest you work with one good broker when you’re looking to buy or rent an apartment. If you’re more comfortable communicating in Chinese, make sure that the firm you work with has brokers who speak both English and Chinese. In general, you should avoid firms that post what appear to be fake listings on Craigslist. Not everyone advertising there is bad, but there have been many cases where someone pretends to be an agent and collects deposits from numerous potential renters for the same apartment. You can check a brokerage out on Yelp, but please know that it’s not 100% accurate, and brokerages that pay to advertise on the site get better ratings. That said, you should avoid any brokerage with consistently horrible ratings and reviews.
How will you know you’ve found a good broker? He or she will be an advocate who can educate you about not only the value of a property, but also the different neighborhoods, public transportation, schools, restaurants, and nightlife nearby. A good broker is in it for the long haul, working with you and your circle of family and friends for life. Building a long-term relationship means your broker won’t take shortcuts or speed you through a transaction in order to earn the largest commission. He or she will put clients first, knowing that the money will follow via future transactions and referrals. A good broker will invest time and effort to stay educated on changing laws and practices, so that clients have the very best “expert consultant” by their side.
At my company, City Connections Realty, it is mandated that our brokers are ethical and educated about important changes in New York City real estate. We have a number of brokers who speak both English and Chinese, so please feel free to contact me with any questions you have. I know that coming to NYC from China is a big adjustment, and I’m happy to help you in any way that I can. When I go to China, I can hopefully reach out to some of you!
David Schlamm is the founder and CEO of City Connections Realty. To read more about him or the company, you can visit this page.