Blog about NYC real estate by NYC Broker Mitchell Hall. Homes, architecture, neighborhoods, new developments, market reports, trends and more...

NYC Buyers and Sellers Beware!

I started this blog in 2006 and have been publishing it for more than 10 years. While the industry has undergone changes the "more it changes the more it stays the same" only different names and players.

In an early blog post back in July of 2006, (July 2006- creating-my-blog.htmlI told readers my blog's mission. I wanted to create a transparent blog about buying and selling Real Estate in Manhattan because the New York City housing market is so unique. Buying and selling a home in NYC is very different and more complex than any place else in the country. Generic real estate information was proliferating online that was not relevant to NYC housing.

Cooperative apartment ownership is the primary form of home ownership in New York City.
Co-op ownership requires submitting a comprehensive Board application (called a Board Package), being interviewed by the Board, and being approved. Helping a buyer pass a coop board is an important skill needed by the agent. A skill developed from training, experience and knowledge of a particular building.

At the time I started this blog in 2006 there was a cottage industry emerging of companies called "lead generatorsthird party lead generator sites and traffic aggregators from out of state. Some had actual broker's licenses and received referral fees but many were masquerading as Manhattan real estate brokers on the Internet through paid search and keywords sending consumers to their anonymous landing pages that captured their information that they forwarded to agents that paid for the leads. 

Consumers eventually caught on to the "Lead Capture" scheme and most decided they preferred to search listings anonymously without having to give up their personal contact information knowing they would be solicited by all those that paid to capture their information. 

After the lead generators, came the portals such as Zillow, Trulia and and the independent NYC website StreetEasy that provided transparent NYC property listings.

Zillow, Trulia and were not able to penetrate the complex NYC real estate market as they so easily did in markets in the rest of the country. So Zillow paid $50 million for StreetEasy after it bought Trulia in order to break into the unique NYC real estate market, the largest and peculiarly complex often puzzling to outsiders.

Zillow Group, a Seattle Washington based publicly traded company made many changes to the transparent NYC StreetEasy particularly aggressive monetization. As a media company rather than a licensed broker involved in a real estate transaction their revenue is generated by advertising. 

They don't sell "leads" they sell "impressions" Their business model is their business and should not concern you the consumer unless you are seeking transparency rather than confusion

Consumers beware! You are their commodity. Broker's listings are their content. They want your information so they can give your contact information to brokers and agents that bought zip codes that capture buyers looking for listings in a given zip code. 

Beware when searching for a listing. The so-called "agent expert" "for information" may not be an expert at all. They purchased the right to your contact information buy purchasing "impressions" for a particular zip code.

New media companies blur the distinction between advertising and editorial content. Newspapers must run a disclaimer "Advertising" when the distinction is blurred and may confuse. It's called an advertorial. The editorial content on these websites is not provided by journalists such as the articles written in the New York Times real estate section but rather by the brokers who are hired by sellers to exclusively list and market their property. The broker's listings have been "monetized" by these "aggregator" websites. The listing agent information is either eliminated or very difficult to find so they can send traffic for that listing to their paid "premier agent" instead. 

If you are a buyer looking for a property in a particular zip code you may be sent to either the agent who purchased that zip code "impression" or someone at the website. You may get an agent in Ohio even though you're looking for a coop on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The agent in Ohio that purchased a NYC zip code will try to sell or receive a referral fee for your contact info to another more local agent. The local agent may or may not have ever sold anything on the Upper West Side. 

The property you're interested in may already have an accepted offer, it may be gone by the time all the third party payees get back to you. Don't worry they will try to sell you something else since they have no particular knowledge, interest or relation with the seller of the property you may be interested in. 

"Too many cooks spoil the broth"

Before you click for information make sure you know who you want to contact. If you want to go directly to the source contact Listing Agent or Seller's Agent or just visit the scheduled open house. Unless the building prohibits open houses Sunday open houses are still the best way to go in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

If you want buyer representation you should find a good buyer's agent to represent you. In NY state you are entitled to your own representation. The NY state disclosure form will help you make informed choices about your relationship with the real estate broker and it's agents. 

You should do some research in order to find and work with a good buyer's agent. An experienced knowledgeable agent with specific neighborhood and building experience. There are many good agents in NYC that are REBNY (Real Estate Board of New York) members that can represent you that don't advertise or purchase "impressions" on other broker's listings in order to find buyers. *

"The more things change...the more they stay the same. Just different players.
 Here is an article I wrote back in 2006 about rental listings on Craigslist.

 Craiglist - No broker fee and bait and switch Craig Newmark the founder of Craigslist left a comment: 

Hey, please help me out and quote me right.
 I've pointed out that I've been working on this for a few years, and have handled thousands of cases.
 I've kicked off many unethical agents, have handled a few such cases already.
Since all real estate is local, I started this blog to give a local perspective of the Manhattan real estate market. If you would like to discuss this post, the market in general or anything about New York City real estate please reach out to me. I'm always happy to talk to people at any stage of the Real Estate process and can discuss the opportunities in each neighborhood, price point, room count and type of ownership.

6. Advertisements referencing property not listed with broker. Any advertisement that references or includes information about a property that is not listed with the advertising broker or was not sold by the advertising broker shall prominently display the following disclaimer: “This advertisement does not suggest that the broker has a listing or has done a transaction in this property or properties.” Such advertisement: (i) shall not, absent consent provided pursuant to subdivision (b)(2)(b) of this section, suggest, directly or indirectly that the advertising broker was involved in the transaction and (ii) shall not refer to property currently listed with another broker. 

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