What Your Real Estate Agent Doesn't Want You to Know

Eight out of 10 people would probably say they don't like their real estate agent. I'm among the eight and would never have imagined myself being a real estate agent. Today, however, I'm a real estate agent in Manhattan, partly driven by observing opportunities from the points I'll outline here.

During my last three years in banking, I was investing in property on the side. I visited numerous cities and viewed thousands of properties. It was during this time that I interacted with a lot of real estate agents in New York and other states.

The top 5% of real estate agents in Manhattan are very good. They deserve a lot of credit for such things as understanding their product and market and managing client relationships. I learned from them. But the majority of real estate agents were ... an experience. If you're a real estate agent reading this, you know I'm not talking about you.

There are seven things that your Manhattan real estate agent doesn't want you to know.

1. Anyone Can Get a Real Estate License

In New York, the real estate qualification consists of 75 hours of classes followed by an exam. Anyone can get a license. In comparison, the Series 7 is rocket science. As example, the top concern is usually math questions — things like what is 5% of $150,000. Yes, these fifth-grade math questions were most worrisome to the majority of licensing students.

Let's put things in context. At college, we expect a teacher to have a master's or Ph.D degree to teach calculus, a subject that most of us would never use again. But when buying the most expensive investment of our lives, the norm is to take the advice of a real estate agent who went through a 75-hour class. Hmm...

2. They're Still Renting

The majority of Manhattan real estate agents don't own property. Rather, they sell property as a job. As a buyer, the rare occasion when I dealt with an agent who owned his property or even better, investment real estate, was so welcoming because of the personal insights gained. Why should a buyer take advice from an agent who is still renting? Interestingly, that's how we've come to accept it.

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