- Michael Shapot, Esq.
What Defines "The Best"?
I often ask myself, "What makes a successful
Realtor?" Since "success" is so subjective, perhaps the better question is, "How can I be 'my best'"? I have been a Realtor in New York City for more than 20 years. I currently lead a large, top producing Team of agents, each with their own unique niche specialty. My Team and I routinely receive awards for our production. I was named Realtor of the Year by the Manhattan Association of Realtors. We won the Bronze Medal in REBNY's 2017 Deal of the Year challenge. I was a sales manager for the #1 real estate office in NYS for a major franchise for three consecutive years. So, I'm good, but what makes me "the best"? Skills of the best real estate agents include - marketing, salesmanship, negotiating and listening. One must have product knowledge and business savvy. One needs to successfully orchestrate a transaction and be able to move the parties to a closing table. One must play well in the real estate sandbox, working with diverse personalities, divas, big egos and emotional outbursts. One must be tech savvy as well as kind, empathetic and understanding. One has to be available when needed, and resourceful, knowing who to call for information and what strings to pull in order to make the impossible happen. Perhaps you'll better understand some of the nuances of Manhattan's residential real estate world if I provide the particulars of a recent sale. Approximately nine months ago, a trusts and estates attorney introduced us to siblings who listed their deceased's mother's coop apartment for sale with another broker for 6 months. There were few showings and no offers. Was it the market, or the marketing? We thought both, and recommended that the apartment be painted and repaired as needed, that the floors be refinished and that it be staged with some rental furniture, furnishings and
art. We suggested that the price be tweaked to accurately reflect market conditions. Shortly after the work was done and the property re-introduced to the market, it went into contract to a financially strong candidate, and in March, the deal was Board approved. And then COVID-19 hit. There was real estate drama and excitement that blindsided us: the buyer defaulted on the contract, and the siblings retained the downpayment. We put the apartment back on the market yet again, sold it a second time, and successfully closed on that second sale a few weeks ago. Do you think there was anxiety, hurt feelings, and worry about litigation over a just-shy-of-six-figure down payment? You bet! Was there concern about mounting carrying costs of an empty apartment and the out-of-pocket expenses associated with home prep and property staging? You bet! Do you think coordination and crystal clear communication between the sellers, two sets of buyers, their attorneys, their lenders, the building's Board of Directors and management company were critical? You bet! Do you think there were big personalities involved, with clashing egos, emotional outbursts and parties who didn't always see eye-to-eye? You bet!
A few other sales which closed this month also demonstrate the issues we deal with and why we're "the best": We represented a family who moved out of their NYC apartment in March and decided in April that they would never return. We coordinated the home prep, staging and showings, and the packing and moving of their household belongings to their new home in Northern VA. And - the sale was for top dollar. We managed to close in the early days of the COVID lockdown despite a building refusing to permit a seller to move his furniture out and a buyer to move his furniture in. We closed on a sale where the buyer's lawyer made time-is-of-the-essence where the delay was caused by the IRS and the NYS Dept of Finance. We closed on a mortgage contingent deal where the property didn't appraise. Do you think it is easy to work with a divorcing couple who aren't speaking? Or a seller who is living in New Zealand? Or a buyer who couldn't get financing because the building didn't meet any lender's guidelines? And what about remorseful buyers who fear they overpaid? Or financially sound buyers rejected by a coop Board? I've learned that the best Realtors are educators, who help their clients make smart choices given their unique circumstances and uncertainties of the market. If clients understand their options in the context of the current environment, they will be well positioned to choose their best course of action.
Finally, I know that the best Realtors care. They intuitively understand their clients' needs, listen empathetically and offer help and guidance. I always give my all for my clients, and that I bring my "A-Game" as a real estate broker every single day. Perhaps this is what's most important, and truly defines "my best". I often say that no transaction is easy. Each deal has its own warts, hairs and pimples. Well, since COVID, the warts, hairs and pimples have morphed into boils, tumors and malignancies. Today's dire circumstances require "the best" agent who can either avoid the hidden landmines, or navigate around and through the aftermath of the explosions and destruction. Every deal has them! Who do you want as your team member? And who will you trust to get you to the finish line?
I think of myself as The Walking Valium Drip, the Cool Calm Collected Voice of Reason, in Manhattan's crazy world of residential real estate. Recently, a colleague told me that I was more like the Walking Real Estate ChainSaw, because I cut through all the crap to get deals done. I like that.... I hope my examples enlightened you about the current state of our industry and provided insight into what I think it takes to be "the best". And you can let me know if you look at me as The Valium Drip or The ChainSaw. I'm fine with either.