Consumers in the Manhattan real estate market are gaining access to a broader range of online property listings through a new service launched by the Manhattan Multiple Listing Service Inc.

Manhattan MLS, owned by the Manhattan Association of Realtors, today formally announced the creation of an Internet data exchange (IDX) system that allows brokers to advertise their listings and other brokers’ listings on their Web sites. The system is voluntary, reciprocal and mutual.

While Internet exchanges of property listings are common in many markets across the country, the Manhattan real estate market has never before been home to an IDX network.

Laura Rubinfeld, association executive for the Manhattan Association of Realtors, said, “We have fallen in lockstep with the rest of the country.”

The advantage of IDX is that sellers can get more online exposure for their listed properties, according to an association announcement.

“Sellers and landlords who list with one of the MLS firms who participate in IDX get the advantage of exposure not just on the listing firm’s Web site but also the Web sites of competitors. The result is added exposure for their property and more interest,” the announcement states.

There are some other forms of Internet-based property-listing services operating in the market such as Craigslist.org and MLX.com that offer consumer access. And some brokers display their own listings on their own Web sites.

“The response has been just overwhelming,” Rubinfeld said. The first firms climbed aboard the new listings exchange about two months ago and there are now a handful of participants, she said, with more firms signing up.

While Realtor associations are the dominant trade groups across the nation, the Manhattan association, launched in 2001, is a relatively new player.

The Manhattan real estate market has long been dominated by The Real Estate Board of New York, a powerful trade group that represents a broad range of companies and individuals in real estate and related fields.

The real estate board has about 275 member firms that share their property listings with each other, though most member firms do not post all of these listings online.

Steven Spinola, REBNY president, said that REBNY member firms participate in their own property-listing service, which is “the most extensive and comprehensive listing service in New York. When you are selling or buying a Manhattan property, it is much more important to have more than 280 brokerage firms and their thousands of sales people aggressively marketing your needs than to have a dozen or so firms listing your property on their Web sites.”

JoAnne Kennedy, COO of Coldwell Banker Hunt Kennedy, said buyer registrations have jumped about 600 percent since the company began participating in the property listings exchange. “I think the fact that the buyers see so many more properties helps them to narrow what they want and it makes them more qualified, from our point of view. We are delighted with IDX,” she said.

Jeff Wolk, who is co-principal of Fenwick Keats and President of the Manhattan Multiple Listing Service, said, “Under IDX everyone wins. The buyer wins by having more to choose from. And the brokerage firm wins by getting more buyer registrations. We are very pleased with the results.”

Sellers who list their property with a member of the Manhattan MLS also receive exposure on national Web sites, including Realtor.com, AOL.com and MSN.com.

Rubinfeld said some companies, in order to participate in the IDX system, have redesigned their Web sites and hired staff to help manage Internet leads generated through the listings.

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Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to glenn@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 137.

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