The Big Apple: Citywide stats improve. . . a bit

VOWs prove useful to buyers searching for new homes

Brokerage firms are getting into the digital game themselves, creating a “virtual office Web site” or VOW.

These are sites operated by brokers that enable clients to search for most of the available properties in a particular market, not just the firm’s exclusive listings, according to the New York Times.

While brokers have mixed feelings about whether these sites are worth the investment, the emergence of the VOW is yet another sign that once tightly guarded listing information has finally been set free in New York.

Dollar value of citywide sales climbs from Q1 to Q2 as seasons change, but sales activity slips 4 percent below one year earlier

The total dollar value of New York City’s residential sales transactions jumped 13 percent in the second quarter of 2011 to Continue reading

Which is more important, broker or brokerage?

Annette Bening played a real estate broker in this film. Do you remember the name of the film? See the answer and link below.

As readers of this blog well know, there is no shortage of bad brokers–those who are some combination of lazy, incompetent, unprofessional, unethical or nothing more than avaricious.

Of course, there are lots of good brokers in New York City and elsewhere as well.

The question at hand: Is there a clear connection between the quality of the broker and the reputation or size of her/his firm?  The answer: An unqualified yes and no. Continue reading

Brokers flout Fair Housing laws with impunity

When it comes to many matters relating to real estate, the Big Apple often lags the rest of the country.

One prime example discussed on this blog concerns the continuing resistance, especially by the biggest brokerages, to a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) even while reluctantly accepting VOWs (Virtual Online Web sites).

Another example involves the strictures of the Fair Housing Act, along with other anti-discrimination legislation on the municipal, state and and federal levels.

Such measures protect certain “classes” of consumers–for instance, by the source of their income, marital status, age, race and sexual orientation.  (In D.C., sellers may not discriminate by what is called matriculation, that is, against students.)  The list of protected classes can rise into the high teens.

Well schooled about the subtleties of the law when I was affiliated with Long & Foster Real Estate in D.C., I was astonished to see how flagrantly the provisions of the law were violated with impunity by brokers here in New York City. Continue reading

Hard to ignore, VOWs face uncertain future here

Boston-based CondoDomain, a Web-based discount real estate brokerage, is now a member of the Real Estate Board of New York, offering offers a VOW (Virtual Office Web site), reports the Real Deal. That means that customers who log onto the company’s New York site can browse through the listings in REBNY’s database, which is far from comprehensive.

CondoDomain founder and  told the Real Deal that the appearance of VOWs in New York City has opened the floodgates for new companies like his to penetrate the lucrative New York City market.

“The VOW will lay the groundwork for companies like ours to come in and compete,” CEO Anthony Longo told the publication. Continue reading

Manhattan needs a true MLS, not an impostor

One of the city’s bigger brokerages announced last week that it has established a Virtual Office Web site (VOW), which many see as a step toward a Multiple Listings Service (MLS) providing buyers with access to essentially all exclusive listings in the city.

Although the announcement by Halstead Property sounds like a voluntary initiative, the action results from a federal law that goes into effect this year.  In fact, the toothless Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) has instructed its member firms (of which mine is one) to comply with the law, according to a commenter on the Real Deal Web site, where I first saw the announcement.

The Corcoran Group has been silent on any of its VOW plans, but Prudential Douglas Elliman says it is in the game.  Continue reading