I don’t just sell real estate. Occasionally I buy it, too, and experience many of the same emotions and frustrations that many of my clients do. Recently I’ve been shopping for a pied a terre in NYC and have zeroed in on the Bronx. (Yes, I know my neighborhood selection can likely generate a whole blog thread on its own. New Yorkers’ opinions about neighborhoods can reach the frenzied fervor of political or religious debates.) I’m looking in the Kingsbridge Heights area, through to the Van Courtlandt Park / Broadway side of Riverdale.
My heart goes out to any of you who’ve shopped for a coop or condo in NYC. Its downright frustrating. First, there’s no single source of listing information. There’s no real Multiple Listing Service, although in the Bronx a handful of Westchester Realtors have listings there that show up in the Westchester-Putnam MLS. The NY Times’ online real estate database functions like a quasi-MLS, but its far from comprehensive, particularly for the Bronx. Every day I search a half dozen agency websites, use a program to search Craigslist for any new keyword hits, and have auto-notifies set up on the Westchester-Putnam MLS and the NY Times.
When all my fishing comes up with a bite — a listing I’d be interested in seeing — I send an email or leave a voice message for the listing agent, and count my blessings if I ever hear anything back. I’d say that the response rate to a first inquiry is about 1 in 3. A second call or email will increase that to 2 in 3.
What I’d really like to do is find a good agent who works in the area I’m interested in, and rely on them to find appropriate properties to see. But in NYC, a lot of brokers don’t cooperate with each other, so you can’t rely on a single agent to be your point person for comprehensive inventory. You have to go from brokerage to brokerage to check on listings and find what you’re looking for.
Compared to the city, buying real estate here in Sullivan County is virtual nirvana. The vast majority of properties are included in the Sullivan County MLS. Brokers cooperate with each other well here, and even the handful of brokers who don’t participate in the MLS are willing to work with other brokers. And you can work with a single agent here and be confident that you’ll be aware of most everything available that meets your criteria. it is just so different than shopping in the city.