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When looking to hire a real estate broker, sellers almost inevitably encounter The High-Baller--a broker who recommends a listing price that is either "ambitious" or flat-out unrealistic. Once the broker gets the listing (and usually a six-month exclusive contract with you), it's price-cut city...often over a prolonged period of time that involves many open houses, progressive stages of grief, and deteriorating broker-client relations.
Traditionally, the best way to avoid hiring a High Baller is to develop a realistic sense of how much your place is worth in the current market--i.e., thoroughly researching comparable sales through information available on sites like StreetEasy.com.
Last week, StreetEasy introduced another way to screen out the High Ballers. Its Shop for a Broker tool that, among other things, enables you to see not only how many apartments a broker has sold during a specific time frame, but also the average percentage below (or above) the initial listing price.
A search of agents who sold apartments in the $750,000-$1,250,000 price range in Chelsea over the past year turned up 17 who had dispatched more than one apartment. All agents had a history of selling below the initial listing price, with 11 falling comfortably within the 3-4% discount that characterizes the current market. Two agents slightly exceeded that range, with averages of 5.2% off the initial ask, while four agents closed at an average of around 10% below the initial asking price.
That's good information, if only, as StreetEasy points out, a starting point for finding the right broker. (For some tips on interviewing a broker, read this.)
For the moment, there is no way to look up a specific broker by name, so if you're not starting from scratch in the selection process, you'll have back into this information by searching the neighborhood in which the broker is most active (ideally, your neighborhood) and locating him or her on the list.
When its data is more fully populated, Shop for a Broker (available only to StreetEasy users with insider accounts, which cost $10/month) will also be useful to buyers seeking an agent who has done a lot of deals in a specific area or building.