5 Questions Sellers in New York City Should Be Asking Agents Right Now
Picking the right agent or team to work with has always been a key decision for homeowners, but during COVID-19 times, so many new factors have come into the picture. As New York City begins to cautiously open up, sellers need to know the right questions to ask agents to make sure they’re working with people who are innovating and have their finger on the pulse of the market.
Brown Harris Stevens agent Scott Harris, who has been working in real estate for almost 20 years, gave us the five best questions sellers should have up their sleeves. Asking these questions now could be the difference between your flip becoming a flop, and might just save you some sleepless nights.
1. Where are you currently based?
Harris knows well that brokers are navigating this time just like anyone else. Many may have left the city during the New York PAUSE, so this is the first thing to know about an agent. As activity slowly restarts and one-on-one showings are allowed with regulations, such as leaving enough time between appointments to wipe surfaces down, Harris stresses it is important to know who will be showing your property – and how.
As a follow-up, a seller should also find out the broker’s comfort level with in-person interactions or how they plan to make virtual showings dynamic and impactful.
2. What methods are you using to conduct open houses while they are currently not allowed in New York state?
Public open houses are prohibited and agents are only able to show by appointment, but many are utilizing their social media channels to host open houses virtually. According to Harris, sellers should make sure the broker they pick is using everything in their tool kit to market their listings.
There is not an industry standard for virtual open houses yet. “This has created an opening for any broker who is tech-savvy to really be looking at the options out there,” Harris notes. Instagram Live is a fantastic place to start. A broker should know how to work the camera and show off an apartment while giving insight. Silence doesn’t feel real, so brokers should still be engaging potential buyers and pointing out highlights of the listing while live streaming.
3. Have you negotiated any deals during COVID-19?
Find out if an agent has been able to keep deals on track and execute new deals from start to finish. While agents may not have been able to conduct deals in person during the New York PAUSE, they should have some record of performing during this time. Harris believes sellers should inquire about the actions, diligence, and creativity the agent used to navigate the unprecedented months.
Should New York City need to go back into shutdown at any point as the COVID-19 global pandemic continues to unfold, sellers can then be confident that their agent can conduct deals successfully under the conditions. This brings us to the next question…
4. What strategies and technologies will you use if the city goes back into a PAUSE?
From virtual property tours to the facilitation of closings, real estate dealings will still need to continue if stricter regulations return. And in such an unpredictable time, a savvy agent should be as prepared as possible.
When choosing someone to list with, Harris notes that a seller needs to thoroughly know the agent’s ability to conduct business without interruption. Not only is technology and marketing an important factor in this, but also making the process feel comfortable for buyers. Ask agents how they recreate the feeling of showing an apartment via a screen and what their strategies are to make buyers feel at home from a distance.
5. How can you make your case for what my apartment should be priced at in the current climate?
It is more important than ever for an agent to have deep knowledge of the market. This is where technology takes a back seat and the nature of real estate as a people-first business really comes through. According to Harris, an agent with market expertise, strong relationships, and a real-time presence will be having conversations to understand the mind of a buyer right now. You can have all the data in the world, but knowing buyers is vital to knowing how to price.
An agent working with a myriad of buyers and sellers will be more in touch with what is going on. Look for someone firing on all cylinders who will guide you through listing and selling in these uncertain times.