Anyone who has tried to rent or maybe even buy an apartment advertised on Craigslist knows the drill. They call the broker, hear that place is gone and face a determined effort to keep them on the phone with promises of gold at the end of their particular rainbow.
Frequently, the listing is just fake and the product of, therefore, an unethical broker.
Still, genuine listings can be found everywhere, not only on Craigslist but in the New York Times and on the Web sites of numerous real estate brokerages. Except. . . they are not what is implied: the individual broker’s exclusive listings.
These are called “open listings.” They are up for grabs, most often properties offered by owners themselves; the owners normally proffer a commission to the broker who brings in a ready, willing and able buyer. They might have responded to the broker’s entreaties to “test the market.” If not, they are testing the market themselves, usually paying to have their listings shown on Web sites such as OLR.com, where brokers mine them as a way of snagging customers who either may spring for the property or start relying on the broker to find the right one.
In D.C., I don’t recall ever noticing an open listing during my four years as a broker there. Here in Manhattan, they are inescapable.
You usually can recognize such listings by the paucity of information provided – for example, a precise building address, an apartment number and almost always both. Often a floorplan and photos beyond the building’s facade will be missing, and a broker questioned about the place will likely give only vague answers to your questions. (In my biweekly e-newsletter, you won’t find any open listings.)
The listings are not phantom ones such as those you easily can discover on Craigslist. But they are open, available to any and all brokers to claim as if they belong to them.
My advice: It’s okay to respond to open listings, but don’t be fooled.
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022