The Real Deal
November, 2003

SMALL GROUP OF MANHATTAN REALTORS
PUSH FOR CITYWIDE MLS


A small group of Manhattan brokers is pushing to try to get the rest of the city’s brokers to sign onto their multiple listings system.

The Manhattan Association of Realtors, a chapter of the 900,000-member National Association of Realtors, wants to form a citywide MLS system similar to what is in place in most other communities around the nation.

One of the main advantages, they say, is that Manhattan properties would
get wider exposure because they would be connected to other MLS systems throughout the nation. Properties would also be listed on Realtor.com,
which nationally draws 75 percent of those who go online to look for real estate, they say.

“It’s in the best interest of the consumer and clients,” said Esther Muller,
the secretary of MANAR and founder of the Academy for Continuing Education. “It’s not only sharing listings in Manhattan, but with rest of company and the rest of world. Companies are losing money because
they are not on the MLS system.”

So far, involvement in Manhattan is small. The group has 40 member firms, but only two out of the largest 15 companies – Fenwick-Keats Realty and Coldwell Banker Hunt Kennedy. The two-year-old group has around 400 members, much smaller than the 3,500 total brokers that are members of REBNY, which counts all the top firms in Manhattan among its members.

The organization, which unveiled a revamped MLS system last month, recently moved into new offices and received a dedicated lobbyist
assigned to represent New York from the state Realtors association.

David Michonski, MLS President for MANAR, said the plan is to grow the organization slowly and “continue with the gradual increase in people joining the MLS.” But he said he is also hopeful that one of the big companies, Douglas Elliman or Corcoran, might join. Jeff Wolk, President of MANAR and a co-principal of Fenwick-Keats, said he also hopes to eventually see “MANAR and REBNY joining forces together.”

Michonski and Wolk said they were particularly hopeful about wooing new Douglas Elliman CEO Dottie Herman to join the organization, because she has a background as a member of the National Association of Realtors and because 2,000 agents at Prudential Douglas Elliman on Long Island belong.

Stephen Spinola, president of REBNY, said he was “willing to work with any organization that wants to work with us.” He pointed out that most members
of MANAR are also members of REBNY, but that “most of my members have no interest in NAR. We believe we set the standard.”

Michonski pointed out that having a central consumer Web site would cut out the need to advertise so heavily in The New York Times. “If we ever had a recession, we would have the MLS in a heartbeat.”