The Real Deal New York

Switching to sales

October 16, 2007
By Melissa Dehncke-McGill

Agents who want to go from rentals to sales can follow many potential routes, because there’s no standard road map telling them how to make the change.

A brief survey of New York real estate companies shows that much depends on an ambitious agent’s employer.

Traditionally, companies have specialized in either sales or rentals, but some companies, such as Citi Habitats, see their ideal broker as one who does both equally well.

Greg Young of Citi Habitats has a background in sales and joined the company five years ago to teach rental agents to sell.

“Through our sales training they grow at their own pace in a two- to three-year period,” he says. “If they prefer rentals they can have occasional sales and if they prefer sales they can be more sales oriented and cut down on the number of rentals. It’s an attractive reason to start with us because agents are not pigeonholed.”

Michael Moran, director of sales at Dwelling Quest, says the transition should be done over the course of six months, with an agent gradually working more in sales and slowly phasing out rentals.

“I hold their hands for as long as they need me to. I go on showings with them, tour new developments and existing buildings and go on marketing presentations with them,” he says.

A top broker needs to stay on top of both the rental and sales markets, Moran adds. “Often sales agents are asked to find investment properties for their buyers,” he says. “So one must know the rental market, its trends, the hot neighborhoods and the like in order to advise accordingly.”

At Benjamin James, there is a co-op and condo class, but broker Noah Sferra, who splits his time between rentals and sales, believes the best way is to learn by working with a manager.

“One of the best things that can happen to you is to have a deal get really screwed up because that is the way you learn,” he says. “In one sale the attorney did everything wrong, so I had to make it right. I knew it cold after that.”

Sferra also thinks it’s very helpful to find a friend who’s buying as a way of easing into that first sale.

Beatrice Ducrot of Stribling, who also does both rentals and sales, says the fast pace of the rental market is good training for sales, but that agents must often learn sales by going to another firm.

“A lot of firms do not allow their brokers to do both,” she says.

Since sales agents rely on commissions and a slow start can leave a rookie without much income, Moran says one of the most important factors in making the switch is building up savings to get through potentially lean times.

“Typically to get going in sales, you should have at least six months worth of living expenses saved up, as it takes time to close your first deal,” he says.

Another significant aspect in making the transition from rentals to sales is starting to think long-term.

“The mistake that most rental agents make is they think the length of the relationship with their renters should be short-term, but renters buy and so do their friends and family,” says Moran.

The Real Deal

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