New York City has long been a data black hole. And despite improvements over the past decade with attempts at a unified multiple listing service and the New York City Buyer Graph, the biggest companies still can’t agree on how many homes are sold in the nation’s biggest market.
Joe Rand, a one-time New York City resident and managing partner at Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty, ripped into New York City’s lack of data sharing ability during a session called, “Lights Out/The Black Hole in NYC,” at Inman Connect New York.
“How do you do market analysis when the biggest companies can’t agree whether sales are up or down?” said Rand, sharing a graph that showed conflicting sales reports from Corcoran, Douglas Elliman and Compass.
“It’s a matter of — on a micro-level of an agent — if you’re not dealing with a common set of sole data, and you’re trying to do a CMA, how do you know whether you’ve got all the data,” said Rand, who now focuses his business in the suburbs of New York City. “How do you know whether you’ve got every sale in that local area that might be meaningful for that seller, when you don’t have an agreement on what data is in the system?”
In the rest of the country, comparative market analyses mostly look the same, said Rand, who acknowledged that data issues arise nationwide. In Westchester, a suburb north of New York City, an agent building a CMA can go to the multiple listing service and pull up recent sales and filter the data through one resource. In New York City, however, agents often rely on as many as four different resources, Rand said.
It used to be worse, Rand added. When he purchased property in New York City in 2004, brokerages weren’t cooperating on the active listing front, the way the rest of the country does.
“When I went to go look, I would go with a Halstead broker and she would show me her listings,” Rand said. “Then I would go look with a Corcoran broker and she would show me her listings, then I’d go out with an Elliman broker and he would show me his listing.”
There have been significant changes since then, specifically with the non-public-facing listing service powered by the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), the local trade association. The Residential Listing Service sends its listings to realtor.com, RentHop and Homes.com, but not StreetEasy.
“It’s gotten better,” Rand said. “In the last 20 years, they now cooperate with each other, they put the active listings into a pool and for the most part, they do offer cooperation with each other in order to enlarge the market.”
“And so what happened the last 15 years in Manhattan? The market exploded,” Rand added.
A unified MLS launched in 2018 out of a merger between the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service and the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island (MLSLI) and boasts that it’s the first Realtor-run multiple listing service in New York City.
Multiple listing services have operated outer boroughs like Brooklyn and Staten Island, but New York MLS is the first attempt at creating an MLS that encompasses the entire city.
A number of brokerages also partnered last year with real estate technology startup RealScout to launch a New York City Buyer Graph, a tool to share anonymized buyer data.