12/13/2011 10:16 am ET | Updated Feb 12, 2012

Toni's Take on Real Estate: Buying as a Broker

We have a saying in my industry that "buyers are liars." Buyers aren't actually lying to their brokers, it's just that sometimes we think we must have a certain neighborhood or amenity and later we come to find out that our "must haves" are wants rather than needs. That is to say, buyers are often willing to compromise on the things they initially claim they want in a dream home. The dream home they end up in is often quite a bit different from the "ideal" they say they want at the outset. Even as a broker with almost three decades in the industry, that's exactly what happened to me. Believe me -- brokers encounter the same bumps in the road as any other buyer.

I have always said that I would never buy in a coop. The reasons for this are various -- condos appreciate in value faster, you don't have to go through a board interview, typically you can finance more, the interest rates are slightly better in a condo as it is considered real property (when you purchase a condo you get a deed versus a proprietary lease) as opposed to a coop you are getting shares of the corporation which owns the building.

But as my search continued, I became a bit more flexible. And, well, a few weekends ago I found myself looking at a penthouse coop, with no doorman (I also said I would never live in a non-doorman building), in TriBeCa. Though I'd been pretty set against the idea of living in a coop, there was a lot I loved about it. It was a really unique home with a fireplace and enormous outdoor space with no one apartment looking down at you. I even saw the potential (with coop board approval of course!) to even put an outdoor shower out there. Even better, it was just one block from fun hot spots like the Tribeca Grand Hotel, Nobu, and the Bubble Lounge. The owners in my opinion spent a lot of money on the renovation, maybe too much. I heard that three owners ago Sarah Jessica Parker use to live there. In any case, this place was unique and livable and beautiful enough to make me seriously reconsider my No-Coop rule. Seeing this place made me realize that sometimes you will come across places that make you reconsider your "must-haves." Even if you're an experienced broker, when you talk about your dream home, you're still as likely to be a "liar" as any other buyer.

I recently went to a day-long Massey Knakal seminar and had the luxury of listening and talking to some of the developers that are currently breaking ground and selling new condos. It reinforced my personal experience in TriBeca- as well as the experience that plenty of other buyers have: these developers are finding that buyers are willing to go to other neighborhoods to find their ideal home. Sometimes you have to compromise on what you think you want at the outset of your search to find the home that is ultimately "right" for you. Personally, I'm still looking... but I'm keeping an open mind.