March 8th 2019
Even in a buyer’s market, it’s always important for buyers to present themselves in the best possible light. In New York City, a buyer often needs to put on a good face for both the seller and the board.
Co-op boards are getting tougher and scrutinizing purchasers more in-depth. They examine financials to make sure that a buyer has money in the bank and a good income to support the purchase.
Now, they are also reaching out to social references to get a better picture of the buyer’s lifestyle. However, while everyone is focused on board approval, the board is the second step in the process of getting a foot in the door. The seller will be the first step through the door.
One of the most important services an agent can provide is helping prepare their client for the often lengthy and sometimes arduous process of purchasing a home.
Keep in mind that the owner has made an important decision to sell their apartment: A decision that is not only based on their personal financial circumstances but also lifestyle changes, which are often times fraught with emotion.
In many instances, the home is the seller’s primary and most significant asset. The seller wants to make sure that they achieve the best price possible but also want the most qualified buyer.
So, buyers’ profiles and the way they present themselves is an important factor. Regardless of an apartment, a co-op or a home sale, sellers usually do not meet their buyers prior to closing, so sellers will do what is necessary to find out as much information about them as possible.
They will certainly depend on their agent to disclose this data, but they often will also vet them on their own. It is very easy these days to find out a huge amount of information about almost anyone online, so buyers beware.
When we, as agents, submit an offer, we must be prepared to give the sellers extensive background on the people who will be purchasing their home. Advising a buyer of the steps to take before making an offer is made is just as important as putting together a pristine board package and getting them through the board.
Prepping your buyers
For that reason, at my first get-together with a buyer, I educate them about the process and “lay down the rules.” Below are the guidelines I use.
1. Social presence
Now is the time to manage their online reputation. Information is free these days. One of the first things a seller does when they receive an offer is to google their name. Therefore, now is the time to edit their Facebook and Instagram pages, and that includes deleting any incriminating photos.
Tone down any blogs or posts that heavily criticize a political party or any group of people. You don’t want your political passions to sway a board member one way or the other nor do you want to show yourself in the wrong light.
That wild party — delete the photos. Living in the 21st century affords everyone the gift of delving into your life, so it’s critical to clean up your online footprint.
If my buyers are planning to mortgage a portion of the purchase, I make sure that they get a pre-qualification letter from their bank or financial institution. This information must be submitted to the seller with an offer. I have my buyers prepare their financial profile at the very beginning of their search so that if they find something they want to bid on, they are well-prepared. I give my customers the standard REBNY financial statement to fill out. This also needs to be submitted with an offer.
3. The buyer’s profile
I always send a brief, but inclusive, bio of the buyer. This includes information about their work history, their schooling and why they want to purchase the home.
Ideally, I encourage my buyer to write a personal letter to the seller that talks about why they want to live in the neighborhood and what attracted them to the building and the apartment.
If there is family nearby and that is the reason they are moving to the area, talk about their close family relationship. If there are schools in the area that they want to send their children to, mention that.
Talk about hobbies, interests and sports. Do they like to run and want to be close to a park? Do they love going to the theater and museums? If a seller has several offers, which is very likely, this profile can often sway the seller in your direction.
How far should buyers go?
Buying a home can be fun, but make sure you are prepared from the start and the results will be worth the effort. Below are more thoughts from fellow agents on how to present your buyers’ best face to a seller.
Sheila Trichter, Warburg Realty: A buyer should go as far as they can to make a good impression on the seller as long as they are sincere and not over the top or obsequious. Most people can see through a phony. In the NYC co-op market, however, making the right impression is essential. No matter how good the bid, a smart seller will not accept an offer unless they are somewhat confident that the buyer will be approved by the board.
Mihal Gartenberg, Warburg Realty: Buyers should always be aware that the most important step during negotiation is to show the seller that they can actually close on the apartment — and quickly. In the most basic sense that means sharing relevant financial information, like salary and liquidity. If the buyer plans to finance, showing a pre-approval from a bank that has recently closed in the building is a necessity — particularly in a multiple bid situation. The less considered way a buyer can put on a good face is to scrub their social media accounts from any questionable posts or activities. This action is particularly important in the co-op market, where a building’s board can reject a buyer without sharing the cause.
Mary Dunne, Warburg Realty: I would always suggest to my buyers to write a “love letter” introducing themselves to the seller and painting a picture of their lives and how they’d see themselves living in the new home. Allow the seller to get a good feel for who will be living in their space.
Nicholas Horsburgh, Warburg Realty: I think this is a buyers’ market, and they should try to maintain the upper hand. So, kowtowing to the seller weakens their position sometimes. I think it is only important they present themselves as very board-passable.
Harriet Kaufman, Warburg Realty: Always present all the positives first and strongly, then the negative. In other words, slogging on honestly.