DIRECTOR OF MARKETING
CURZON REAL ESTATE
New York is Bonkers. Fixing the Data Will Help Everyone.
Imagine that you’re relocating to Manhattan from anywhere else in the world. Maybe you’re from London or Hong Kong, where prices are crazy expensive. So, Manhattan’s real estate doesn’t surprise you.
But there is one thing that makes you crazy. You soon learn that anything you see on the Internet about Manhattan real estate is likely to be wrong. You begin to feel like there’s a giant game of bait-and-switch going on.
No matter what you do to find property in the City, it’s impossible to tell whether it’s really for lease or sale. Or the prices are just too good to be true, because it’s an open listing and eight agents are marketing it with different amenities and prices.
Credibility in question. “New York is, by nature, a bonkers market, and our clients are in the thick of it,” explains Anastasia Morozova, the director of marketing for Curzon Real Estate in Manhattan. “That’s why part of our job is to prepare them for the market, and our agents do a really good job of that.
“Yet every time our clients — even the best prepared and most informed — click on a fake listing, or one with a ridiculous price, or another with the wrong amenities, it makes them question everyone’s credibility. Our agents, the other agents, the entire market … it doesn’t matter.”
Wasted time and energy. Morozova says that Curzon, an international relocation company that specializes in real estate, regularly finds itself in the uncomfortable position of explaining that the apartment a client saw on StreetEasy or RentHop isn’t available (and probably never was in the first place).
“It’s about more than fake listings,” Morozova says. “It wastes everyone’s time and gives clients an inaccurate picture of the market which can be really hard to correct, especially when clients are already fraught and frazzled.
“We’re holding their hands through one of the biggest transitions and transactions in their lives. But we’re wasting time and energy explaining that the one thing in Manhattan real estate that ought to be rock solid isn’t: listing data.”
Better data, everywhere else. Morozova says that everywhere else in Curzon’s service area has better data, because the central source of data for agents and consumers alike is a multiple listing service.
“Outside of Manhattan, you get back to reality,” Morozova explains. “When we go out to Westchester, New Jersey or Connecticut, the data is solid from the MLS. Then you’re competing on your service and expertise, which is a much better way to run a brokerage and serve clients.”
Morozova believes that having an MLS in Manhattan would create honesty, transparency and ethical behavior. But there’s another advantage as well.
Get rid of bad agents. “We all have to work together in this business,” Morozova says. “Leveling out the market in terms of data will not force honest, hard-working agents out. Instead, it would shine a spotlight on cynical, unscrupulous agents who manipulate data against clients’ best interests.”
“StreetEasy doesn’t hurt agents who have a couple of thousand dollars a month to spend on marketing,” Morozova explains. “But the situation in Manhattan hurts everyone else who doesn’t pay to play. Everyone hates it when a client gets the wrong picture of the market, or shows up at a listing with someone who knows nothing about the listing because of an ad.”
Morozova thinks it’s time for a fresh start.
“We’ve all heard that REBNY is coming up with a solution,” Morozova says. “But that’s been years in the making, and we haven’t seen much concrete action to really police listing data and agent behavior.
“The lack of an MLS has allowed some cynical firms to take advantage of the situation and clients. But we, as a community, can fix it. No one should be resigned to the way things are today. If everyone got involved, it would logically propel getting a real MLS into Manhattan forward.”
Let’s solve it right now. For Morozova, there’s one more big advantage to an MLS.
“Having an MLS will only improve the lives of everyday agents,” Morozova declares. “It’s not going to hurt anyone. I don’t understand why any brokerage would not be in favor of it. We’re in one of the most exciting markets in the world, and we’re holding ourselves back over something that can be solved, right now.”
“… every time our clients — even the best prepared and most informed — click on a fake listing, or one with a ridiculous price, or another with the wrong amenities, it makes them question everyone’s credibility. Our agents, the other agents, the entire market … it doesn’t matter.”