Private ‘MLS’ permits statewide property search

Everyone selling real estate and most prospective purchasers realize that there is no Multiple Listing Service (MLS) in New York City.

That void results in brokers having to resort to their shared databases through systems such as OLR (OnLine Residential), though listings by many boutique firms never appear in them.

Still, the vast majority of listings are fed into, where many buyers check to see what’s available along with services such  Both the New York Times and Craigslist can be sources of properties being sold by their owners without brokerage assistance.

It’s not a great system.

Little did I know until meeting Dawn Pfaff at a monthly dinner meeting of the Lucky Strikers Social Media Club that there exists something she has describes as a statewide MLS.  Sort of.  Continue reading

There’s marketing and then there’s fantasyland

All of us get spam and all kinds of mail that we don’t have the time to read.

From the e-mails that I receive from other brokers, you might think they were the exception.

This is just a sample--every one of them selling a property. More below.

I’ve gone to a bit of trouble to show you the e-mails that I received on Friday alone, admittedly a busy day, to demonstrate what too many brokers believe is effective marketing and to take the opportunity to rant and whine.

Every single one of the e-mails you see here touts a property, and every one of those properties is available to me on Manhattan’s version of an MLS.  (The screen shots I have copied are not duplicates.)

Certainly, you shouldn't even try to read the graphics, not only because they're illegible from my copying.

What is running through the minds of the brokers?  You can be sure all of us are getting about the same number of these annoying e-mails and reading them just as avidly as am I.  There are more of them from Friday:

It would be nice if these were the end of Friday's contributions.

Seeing these pages may give you some idea of why I maintain two e-mail addresses for my business. The one from which these pages are copied is  The one that goes directly to my BlackBerry is, which receives far less such spam and thus is far less likely to drive me mad–in both senses of the word.

(I do, by the way, continue to receive broker mail on my Service You Can Trust account from Washington, four years after moving back to Manhattan.)

But wait! There are still more:

And that's not all.

Do I ever, ever read these e-mails?  Hell, I rarely even read the subject lines–unless I’m in the mood for a laugh by checking for this recurring one: “WON’T LAST!!!” I don’t see the point.

If I’m searching for properties that meet my buyers’ requirements, you know what, I’ll find them.  The e-mails I’m getting serve merely to make me feel harassed, nagged and annoyed.  Even deleting them makes me angry.

(Okay, probably I could ask them to remove me from their lists or I could block them, yet I have this inexplicable fear of, paradoxically, missing something in mail I don’t bother reading.  Although it may be efficient to invest a few minutes to be unsubscribed, that process irritates me, too – irrationally, I concede – even more than having to deal with needless so-called marketing. Besides it wouldn’t work: Every time I give out my card, the cycle starts all over again.)

The real estate brokers who resort to e-mail blasts are wasting time, theirs and mine.  Often, they also are wasting  money by using a distribution service.  I don’t mind if they waste their resources, but I’d be thrilled if they’d stop intruding on me.

And brokers who think that their e-mails will result in a single sale are dreaming.  If brokers need to reassure sellers that they’re doing everything possible to unload a property, why stop at e-mails?  Why not parade up and down Broadway wearing sandwich boards?

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Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201
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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