Engel Volkers Moving to Multiple Listing
By Jennifer Landes
(03/04/2010) This week, Jonathan Lerner, a managing director of Engel and Volkers, said the real estate company will be leaving the Open Real Net Exchange and its public Web site, Hamptons Real Estate Online. Instead, he said, he will use the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island and a new platform that is being developed by Streeteasy, a public listing service.
As director of the companyâ€™s SouthÂampton office as well as offices in Westchester, Mr. Lerner said on Monday that the way the East End realty market has operated has been a disservice to the seller and buyer and is against the code of ethics of national real estate associations.
â€œWith a true [multiple listing service] any broker can join,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s accessible and reasonably priced, about $200 a month. The idea is being cooperative with each other and to have information shared. There are guidelines in place, such as: A photo of the property has to be put on the listing within 24 hours of its listing.â€
Rather than working with listings that only one broker has access to, â€œthis is an equal playing field and the broker doesnâ€™t hold the listing back for his own benefit,â€ Mr. Lerner said.
Mr. Lerner said the Open Real Net Exchange, which is also called OREX, operates more as a private multiple listing service. â€œSome players who can afford to can join, but the smaller ones are paying $4,000 to $10,000 a month,â€ he said.
A larger operation with multiple offices pays $40,000. Nicholas Khuri, the president of RealNet Solutions, which provides the OREX and Hamptons Real Estate Online services, said those estimates were about right. However, he said, the number could be lower or higher depending on the individual companyâ€™s customization of the service.
â€œWe can afford it. Itâ€™s not a money issue. Itâ€™s the principle, and itâ€™s wrong,â€ Mr. Lerner said. â€œThere are only about 12 brokers who participate with OREX. Itâ€™s so expensive the smaller shops canâ€™t afford it.â€
Mr. Khuri said his company only provide the technology to the various offices. It is up to them to determine how they use it and almost all of it is shared with other brokers, he said.
â€œSomehow thereâ€™s this idea that OREX does not share data, but 98 to 99 percent of those listings are shared through other agencies, whether they are on OREX or not,â€ Mr. Khuri said. â€œThereâ€™s more data shared than the M.L.S., weâ€™re just not governed by M.L.S.,â€ he said of the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island.
Streeteasy arrived last summer as a popular public listing service from New York City and is now working on a â€œback-endâ€ or private model for real estate brokers to adopt. Mr. Lerner said that another potential player in the market could be the Hamptons and North Fork Realtors Association, which has its own listing system and is working on making it operable.
A look at the number of public listings on Hamptons Real Estate Online and Streeteasy in East Hampton indicated that the two platforms were running about neck and neck with just under 1,500 properties, some of which could be duplicate listings. In contrast, the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island had only 57 properties listed in East Hampton.
Mr. Khuri said that all major brokers and most small ones use his service. He said he is now working with Agawam Realty to reduce its costs as it cuts back to one office.
Mr. Lerner said that Agawam was leaving the service. Calls to the company were not immediately returned.
Mr. Khuri said that his company had started out with smaller brokers and â€œworked hard to make the technology compelling enough to large brokers.â€ He said his company has had the best system in the region and has been customized for each client, growing with the industry here.
He also said it would be very expensive for a business to offer a start-up venture that was similar to what he now provides, particularly at a lower price. That was an opinion that other brokers said they shared, but did not want to state on the record.