Why does your agent have a nicer house than you do?

Brokers often see smart investments first

Douglas Elliman's Darren Sukenik and Greenwich Village
Douglas Elliman's Darren Sukenik and Greenwich Village

Douglas Elliman’s Darren Sukenik invested in a condo in the West Village 12 years ago when the neighborhood was still, as he said, “fringy.”

But like other residential agents, he drew on decades of experience and instinct. Two years ago, Sukenik and his husband purchased the adjacent unit, which is designed with a neutral palette. “Any real estate I ever purchase, I purchase with an eye to resale,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “I practice what I preach.”

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Agents have a built-in edge when it comes to buying and selling real estate. They are the first to know about listings, know the ins and outs of the market and often know when is the best time to buy or sell.

Michael Rankin, managing partner of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty in Washington, D.C., utilized his market knowledge — and experience with renovations — to gut the Georgetown home he owns with his husband, Mark Green. They paid $5 million for the 7,000-square-foot house in Georgetown and spent another $2 million to renovate. He estimated his experience saved them 10 months of waiting and design work. “We knew not to go in and ask for things that you couldn’t do in a historic neighborhood,” he said.

Pate Stevens, a Nourmand & Associates agent in Beverly Hills, used his experience with renovations to save money on his newly-built million home in Palm Springs. He asked for an itemized list of building costs for the $1 million property, and was then able to negotiate prices for finishes. “One thing about being a real-estate agent is knowing the cost of things,” he said. [WSJ]E.B. Solomont