Remember Myspace, Netscape or even AOL? There was a time when these sites dominated the internet. Not any more.
Even that bastion of community-based info, Craiglist — once the place to find odd jobs, used furniture, roommates and even housing — appears to be passing its sell-by date.
Now, a new crop of real estate sites are offering better data and more insights to challenge the more established players.
Marketproof and Compass, for example, each show more than 22,000 listings, as compared to StreetEasy and The New York Times, which have around 17,000. However, where newer sites can excel is the accuracy of their listings.
For Marketproof, accuracy is achieved by using advanced software techniques that root out lapsed and fake listings. For example, an old trick used by real estate agents is to slightly alter a unit number (for example, unit “4G” may be relisted at unit “4GG”) to make a listing appear new. That maneuver doesn’t get past today’s software.
Here’s where it gets really interesting. StreetEasy and Marketproof lead the field when it comes to the accuracy of rental listings, but for very different reasons. Streeteasy charges agents by the day to post rentals — and this gets expensive fast. So, agents are reluctant to post listings unless they are real. Marketproof again uses software to ensure quality. It expires listings that are outdated and it filters out fakes.
The New York Times, once NYC’s leading real estate site, meanwhile, has many listings greater than 90 days old. In the case of Compass, which does well with sales listings, it has a few rentals which date back as far as 9 years.
Quality of Life Information
For quality of life information — eg. where to live, neighborhood characteristics, noise levels, restaurants, parks, etc — you can try Localize which offers some innovative visualizations of ‘things you should know’. Also try established websites like Curbed, Brick Underground, Brownstoner in Brooklyn, QNS in Queens, and which all have great articles and detailed profiles.
- Curbed – Beginners Guide to NYC
- Streeteasy – How to Move to NYC Guide
- Brownstoner – Architectural Styles Guide
- Brick Underground – How to Sell Guide
Finding an Agent
As with websites and cars — not all agents are created equal. It’s good to test drive a few before making a decision. While all will talk a good game to get a listing, a few local services can help you choose one that’s right for you. Scout and SellMyApartment.com are two that come to mind. Leading brokerages, such as Douglas Elliman, Corcoran, Halstead, Brown Harris Stevens, Sotheby’s, Compass, and others, will have great agents that can represent you. However, these firms don’t offer matching services and leave it to agents to find you, or for you to find them. Agents at these firms will present themselves as highly polished and competent. Remember, though, there are a few superstars who do most of the deals and choosing between them can be tough, so interview a few and find the right one for you.
Finally, when it comes to research, Marketproof and Property Shark offer profiles of buildings in New York City. If you own or are buying or renting, you can get a full history of a building you are interested in, including permits, violations, sales data, and, on Marketproof, floor plans. Marketproof is free for unlimited research and Property Shark offers one property report for free.
Disclosure: Marketproof powers the real estate listings for Brownstoner, a publication of Schneps Media, which is the parent company of amNewYork.