Real estate agent: ‘That’s not public record, is it?’

Million Dollar Listing New York

Ryan negotiates with Janet on Million Dollar Listing New York. (Bravo TV)

I was watching TV the other day when I came across a show called “Million Dollar Listing New York,” which follows three real estate agents in New York City.

I was half listening to the show when all of a sudden my ears perked up.

“That’s not public record, is it?” one of the agents, Ryan Serhant, asked.

I watched as Ryan used New York’s Freedom of Information Law to help negotiate a deal for a multimillion-dollar apartment. The building manager, Janet, wanted $6.5 million, but Ryan’s client was offering $5.75 million.

Here’s how Ryan used the public records law to his advantage:

Janet: The offer that you presented for this vista is just not going to make it.

Ryan: I completely get everything you’re saying, and I really, really appreciate you taking the time to meet me. I just don’t think it’s worth north of $2,900 a foot.

Janet: There’s no way that you’re going to be able to find an apartment like this at this price range.

Ryan: What’s the most recent three-unit combination that’s closed in the last year?

Janet: How about last week? We sold it for $6.9 (million).

Ryan: And that’s not public record, is it?

Janet: No, no. The deal will be probably signed this afternoon. We have another one that is in the process of closing …

Ryan: Process?

Janet: The process.

Ryan’s voiceover: I understand why Janet is quoting me these pending deals, but the truth is that they’re pending, and a comp isn’t really a comp until it’s closed.

Ryan: What’s the highest price per square foot that’s closed in the last six months, that’s closed publicly? Do you know? There’s (an apartment) that sold at, like, $2,600 a foot, and that’s a public record.

Ryan goes on to tell Janet that he can ask his client to offer more money but that he will not pay $2,900 a square foot, because there’s no public record showing that anyone has paid that price.

Ryan: So, I need a counter (offer) from you.

Janet: The name of the game is let’s make a deal, OK?

Ryan: I like you. That’s the name of my game, too.

Janet: So, let’s try to make a deal, and I’m going to go from $6.5 down to $6.3 (million).

Ryan eventually got her down to $6.1 million, and they closed the deal. He got the apartment for his client at a reduced rate and made $183,000 in commission, thanks to some smart negotiating and a little help from New York’s Freedom of Information Law.

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