Brooklyn Secret Agent: Traders Are the Worst Clients

Today we bring you the eighth of an anonymous weekly column about real estate by one of the most experienced agents in Brooklyn:
Nothing strikes dread into my heart more than seeing in a new client’s email address “gs.com,” “ml.com” or “jpmorgan.com.” Please, I think, don’t let it be a trader. No matter if they are a seller or a buyer — there is trouble ahead.

Traders are good at what they do because they understand valuation. They are avid collectors of information and they have terrific memories. They are also not afraid to stake out a position and stick to it.
The problems arise because they tend to look at properties in the same way they look at securities — as interchangeable. As buyers they undervalue “features” like condition, garden size, layout, etc.

Traders DO tend to understand location — maybe that’s easily measured, sort of like a bond rating. What they absolutely cannot factor into the equation is what I call the psychic value of living in a place you love. It is such a subjective criterion that it just doesn’t have a dollar value. Once they’ve decided on a property’s value they cannot be budged. Any effort to inch them closer to the seller’s goal yields only epithets about the seller’s stupidity.

As sellers, that total confidence in their own position shows also. A trader is driven by the last “print” and it is difficult to engage them in discussion of the various features of each recently sold property. Heaven help us if the seller has another trader interested in the property. Then it’s going to be a bare-knuckled fight to the end.

So, do traders get better deals? I’d say no. If anything, it might be the opposite. Traders tend to lose a number of bidding efforts since they are so sure of what the right price should be. Then, as frustration builds, they jump at the next property, hitting the offering price to get the deal done and finally have a place to live. In a market like ours, where demand outstrips supply most of the time, these traders just have to get over their need to brag about what a great deal they got.

The brownstone belt is full of Wall Street traders, though, so they’re obviously finding value here. And who among us will argue with that?