HABITAT

CO-OP/CONDO BUYERS

REB on the Web: Broker Listings Online

Bill Morris in Co-op/Condo Buyers

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No more slogging through dozens of brokers' individual websites. The Real Estate Board of New York's new centralized service has streamlined the searching – giving a break to bleary-eyed buyers, sellers and even renters.

Unlike other cities, which feature multiple-listings services, individual New York City real-estate brokers have traditionally kept their listings solely on their own websites, in order to protect their exclusives. But in September 2007, the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), a century-old trade association of builders, property owners, managers, attorneys, architects, brokers and financial institutions, launched ResidentialNYC.com with an initial 4,000 co-op and condo listings from 60 brokerage firms, as well as more than 600 rental listings.

"For years, the process of finding a new home has been unnecessarily complicated and frustrating for [New York City] consumers," explains Sean Lindstone, the website's director, who calls ResidentialNYC.com "a search engine of bona fide listings, legitimized through brokers that adhere to the highest standards of conduct and ethics." Adds REBNY president Steven Spinola, "[T] he most important thing about this new website is that it's accurate. There are no bait-and-switch listings. The public sees the listings the brokers see."

The free website, billed as the city's "largest repository of exclusive listings," is powered by Trulia.com, the leading national real-estate search engine.

Maps and Snaps

Most listings include multiple photographs of the property, plus floor plans and broker contacts. The website also offers a profile of each apartment's surrounding neighborhood, average prices in the neighborhood, amenities such as nearby restaurants and theaters, recent sales, and the nearest public, private, and parochial schools.

Additionally, the site features maps, a glossary of real-estate terms, and a mortgage calculator. If a property is under contract, that is mentioned. No registration is required, though apartment-hunters can optionally sign in so that they'll be notified when new listings are posted that match their search criteria in terms of price, size and location, and whether they're seeking a co-op, condo or rental.

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"We saw it as an opportunity to cast a wider net and give our clients a better opportunity to sell their properties at the best price," says Stephen Kliegerman, executive director of development marketing at Halstead Property. A potential downside for brokers is that by sharing their exclusive listings, they open themselves up to splitting commissions 50-50 with brokers who discover their listings online and bring a buyer to the table. "But, in the end," Kliegerman says, "we stand to gain by having our sellers represented in every venue possible. As consumers become aware of this website, they'll realize there's an advantage to going with a broker who's casting a wider net."

Holdouts

There are holdouts, including two of the city's biggest real estate brokerage firms, The Corcoran Group and Prudential Douglas Elliman. "We applaud the effort to create a public portal, as we think it will enhance the exposure of many of REBNY's members," said Pam Liebman, president and CEO of Corcoran, in a statement. "At this time, Corcoran has chosen to continue to focus its efforts on our own website. However, we have not excluded the possibility of future participation in the REBNY website."

Nonetheless, as Diane Ramirez, Halstead Property's Residential Committee co-chairwoman, said when the site was launched, "I expect ResidentialNYC to quickly gain traction in our industry. While the number of listings is already impressive, I'm confident listings will increase exponentially as more and more member firms see the benefits of being part of ResidentialNYC."

Adapted from Habitat December 2007. For the complete article and more, join our Archive >>

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