Anyone who knows me knows I believe that whatever works best for you when buying or selling real estate, just go with it. But I occasionally hear or read the opinion that a broker is just unnecessary, that they clog up the works of a clean transaction. I remember one poster on StreetEasy (a FSBO) who vehemently stated that he liked to do deals directly; he didn't want a broker on either side getting in the way of the transaction. In his case it did not work out quite that smoothly but I did respect his point of view since you are free to operate any way you choose. There are a couple of other posters on SE that are also very anti-broker, convinced that they only get in the way and simply add to the transaction costs of buying/selling a property.
In my own experience I find that a broker can be a great asset to the buyer or seller by doing just what some think is the actual problem with broker services: acting as a buffer between both parties. In a perfect world one would ask a price for their home and a counter party would bid, and after a little back and forth they would agree to a price, shake hands, then hand the deal off to their attorneys.
In practice, however, when bidding on an property in NYC, it's never quite that smooth. Buyers and sellers are not rational machines. They are carbon-based units filled with emotion and ego and often let those traits leak into their business dealings. Most buyers I know are not comfortable having the sellers present during a showing. So why would they want to call them up, present an offer that is 10% below what they are asking and then critique the property to justify their valuation?
I think we just need more options for both buyers and sellers. That is why I started The Burkhardt Group. Not everyone is interested in our model, just as not everyone is interested in a large firm's model. And of course some will still not be interested in ANY model, they'll go it alone regardless and deal with any social awkwardness associated with a direct transaction.
If you take the time to find a good partnership, I think you will find having a qualified real estate broker on your team will add value to your real estate experience. In my case, we use rebates as a very powerful tool to capture more value for our buyers along with a comprehensive analysis of potential properties. I pull no punches when I give an opinion on a property and I enjoy working with my clients to understand value, review all the pros/cons, and put together a solid bidding strategy. I have years of real estate experience and usually catch any negatives they may have missed. A good broker can be a great asset!