PORTICO REALTY GROUP
“Have you ever tried to correct an amenity on StreetEasy?” asks Emi Cacace, managing broker and founder of Portico Realty Group in Manhattan. “I had a client who looked at a unit for sale in her own building, because she wanted to trade up. So obviously, she knew what amenities the building offered, and what it didn’t.”
The problem: StreetEasy said the building had a pool. But conclusively, the building, a pre-war co-op, did not. Cacace’s client called her to ask why this obviously incorrect detail was on the listing, and how to get it fixed. She knew that it might affect her own listing if she decided to put it up for sale. Cacace offered to call the listing agent to get it corrected.
“That’s when the games began,” Cacace recalls. The agent explained that she was actually referring to the municipal pool down the street and agreed to remove the mention of the pool. Within 48 hours (the time it took StreetEasy to update the listing), the listing was corrected.
But two weeks later?
The pool had miraculously come back, just in time for the agent’s open house.
Accountability “It just shows there’s no accountability without an MLS,” Cacace explains, who is a member of both REBNY/RLS and the Hudson Gateway Association of REALTORS and Multiple Listing Service. “If that listing had been on HGMLS, an inaccuracy like that would never have been permitted.
“The agent would have been forced to remove it and take responsibility. If it was an honest error, the agent probably would have received a warning. But if it was intentional, the agent would have been fined. Because that’s the right thing to do.”
Cacace’s firm, which specializes in luxury real estate in Manhattan and Westchester, counts on HGMLS to provide insight and accurate data in every community it serves outside the city. But inside the city?
“It’s a free-for-all,” Cacace says. “People can and do whatever they want. Sometimes it’s innocent, but sometimes it’s not. Either way, it’s hard to do business when you don’t have accurate data about the thing that makes your business possible: real estate listings.”
StreetEasy isn’t an MLS Cacace says that the lack of an MLS puts StreetEasy in a position it should not be in as a media company.
“StreetEasy isn’t an MLS, but many Manhattan brokers think of it that way because they’ve never worked in a real MLS,” Cacace says. “People might think of it as Manhattan’s de facto MLS, but I can tell you, it is not. StreetEasy is a marketing tool, period. You either buy it or you don’t. But because it has most of the listings, whether they’re accurate or not, agents and consumers go there.”
For Cacace, that makes life harder when she is looking for accurate data about Manhattan listings.
Where Collaboration Begins “It means that you spend time you shouldn’t have to confirming details and looking up things that ought to be housed and verified in an MLS,” Cacace says. “It’s a waste of time and energy. But what brokers in the city don’t realize about an MLS is that while it does have accurate data and rules, it’s also where collaboration begins.”
Cacace says that the insider information contained in a real MLS is a gold mine, especially the details within the agent remarks section.
Creating Market Momentum “That’s where we can share inside information and expertise and really collaborate to get a property sold for a seller,” Cacace says. “Every agent on the MLS can see your listing and know everything about it. Because the information is accurate, you can move more quickly to get it sold.”
Cacace says that while there are broker-to-broker remarks in RLS, what’s at issue is that not every broker that sells real estate in Manhattan is a member of REBNY.
“So, they may not even see the remarks, or they think they don’t need RLS or even an MLS because they only specialize in certain neighborhoods,” Cacace says. “But an MLS that has every listing in a market works for every broker, because it’s the one place that has everything. If Manhattan had an MLS, watch out. This market would explode because everyone’s data would be accurate and accessible.”
Data Hoarders There’s another practice in Manhattan market that Cacace finds puzzling.
“Brokers will hoard their data and keep it to themselves,” Cacace explains. “It’s unimaginable to me why, because if you do things right as an agent, you should look across the entire market for the right property for your clients. Not just on your company’s system or your personal network. Your job is to match your client to the right property. An MLS makes that process easy because everything on the market is there.”
For Manhattan brokers, Cacace says the idea of a central source of verified data with a unified view of the market seems like a dream.
Good for Everyone “I was talking to a broker a little while ago, and we were comparing notes about what it’s like to do business in Manhattan vs. Westchester,” Cacace recalls. She told him about how the MLS works for Portico Realty Group and the fact that her brokers based in Scarsdale do not have to independently confirm every detail of every listing in the MLS — because the data is already verified.
“His first reaction? ‘I wish we had that here,’” Cacace says. “So, I told him, you can have it here. It saves time. It’s more effective. But you have speak up for it if you want it. I personally cannot understand why there is no MLS in Manhattan. It doesn’t make any sense to me. But I know that it would be good for my business and everyone’s business if we did.
“New York brokers should embrace the MLS,” Cacace concludes. “It’s good for everyone.”
"New York brokers should embrace the MLS. It’s good for everyone."