The Private Broker, How the Super Rich Sell/Buy Real Estate, and The Deal Killer known as the Appraisal


Brokers Who Bet on a Few Sales

Some brokers focus all their efforts on just a handful of blockbuster sales a year, Pocket Listings, aiming for the rare seven-figure commission. The risks and rewards of betting it all on a few big deals.

Early last year, real-estate broker Sami Hassoumi launched a search with his client for a spacious Manhattan apartment. In November, they had found it. And at the end of December, Mr. Hassoumi and his client closed on a six-bedroom, 6½-bathroom, second-floor unit of an Upper East Side cooperative building. That deal, for $20 million, was Mr. Hassoumi’s only transaction of 2012.

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super rich homes

The super-wealthy are selling more homes in secret

An estate in Woodside, Calif., traded hands for a staggering $117.5 million in November. But it wasn’t until January that the transaction surfaced in public records. Rumors exploded about the price tag, the buyer (reportedly the Japanese tech billionaire Masayoshi Son), and even now, little information exists, including which brokers were involved.

Why such confusion? Because the Silicon Valley spread was never actually listed for sale.

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The Appraisal Betrayal

The growing gap between a high-end home’s sale price and its appraised value can prompt potential buyers to walk away; those who decide to buy anyway may end up with an unwelcome mortgage surprise.

What’s that $1 million house really worth? Depends who you ask.

To determine the value of a property, appraisers are supposed to review purchase prices of similar, nearby homes that sold in the past six months. But when a property is much pricier than others in the neighborhood, it can be hard to find similar examples close by. As a result, their asking prices are often out of whack with values that are later determined by appraisals.

“The higher you go up the ladder in value generally the less data you have,” says Danny Wiley, chief appraiser for LSI, an appraisal-management company based in Irvine, Calif.

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