Start Your Engines! Buying & Selling on the Web

In Manhattan’s real estate market, consumers are hungry for efficient ways to find that elusive perfect apartment. Today, more than ever before, choices abound from the Web sites of individual brokerage firms to sites which feature compilations of listings. The Internet has profoundly affected the way people buy apartments. Various residential Web sites seeking to meet the high demand, display a variety of visuals to help pre-sell properties. And it’s working. Brokers report that buyers are viewing less and less apartments as the months go by. They say this is because buyers are becoming more knowledgeable; by previewing available listings on the Web, buyers are better prepared and know what they want. Just what is the future of online brokerage?

An MLS for Manhattan?

Although most metropolitan areas in the United States have had multiple listing services since the 1970s, it was only recently that an effort was made to provide this service in the New York market. And it almost wasn’t so. Last summer, a battle was taking place between two groups; one led by Douglas Elliman and The Corcoran Group and another by the MLS Task Force, led by firms such as Sotheby’s and Brown Harris Stevens. Taken aback by the Corcoran/Elliman announcement of joint listings last August, the MLS Task Force struck back and announced their own similar endeavor.

Just recently, the two groups announced they have come together to participate in an online listing service that includes 100 firms and represents 90 percent of the residential brokerage firms in Manhattan.

At the top of the nymls.com web page, a rotating banner scrolls through the names of participating real estate firms. It gives the impression of unity and cooperation between these companies. There is no evidence of the controversy that divided them just a few months ago. The unification of the Corcoran/Elliman listing service and the MLS Task force indicates the resolution of this controversy but answers as to the future of this endeavor are still hard to come by.

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