Although journalists will go to jail before they give up their sources, as a broker, I can’t pass go and Collect $2000 without an educated client. Nine times out of ten, a broker manages to close a deal as a result of relationships with architects, expeditors, lawyers, planning experts, and community board members, or knowledge about what’s going on with the Landmarks Commission, school districts, and so on. Every little bit of information helps. Here’s my annotated rolodex of go-to development sources.
Real Estate Forum
A real estate trade journal with 60 years experience covering the national trends and themes, Real Estate Forum targets institutional investors, attorneys, housing industry experts, lenders, and other big players. It’s a great resource to get a sense of what’s going on outside of our little world of New York.
Real Estate Weekly
The New York Times of the real estate business, Real Estate Weekly (REW) focuses on the New York tri-state area and covers everything from local residential sales to the bank financing of the office tower down the street to construction trends in the Hamptons. REW also announces formations of new companies, promotions, and new hires within the industry. For those in the real estate business, it’s the absolute bible.
Real Estate Board of New York
The member site for the Real Estate Board of New York links to the websites of some of the most reputable companies in the industry. Listings are organized by residential and commercial brokerage companies, so if you’re wondering how to find commercial properties, this might be the place to start. Or anytime I forget the name of a company, I go to its listing of member sitessit’s huge!
Crain’s New York Business
The online real estate section of Crain’s concentrates on commercial real estate more than residential. It’s one of the best sites in terms of links to government agencies, appraisers, and other industry-related organizations.
The Slatin Report
Peter Slatin has earned a reputation for being among the few to integrate discussions of design and urban planning into his real estate reporting. His website offers insightful, critical reports on developmentssmostly large-scale and commerciallacross the country.
This is the blog of Jonathan Miller, the head honcho of Miller Samuel, the city’s top real estate appraisal firm. Miller is to real estate what Lew Wasserman was to the film industry. A great blog that never talks down to the user.
The Real Deal
Just a couple of years old, this monthly is a bright bold Variety-format glossy tabloid that targets newcomers and the old guard alike. Easy to read, The Real Deal attemps to build a community online with its website and has organized conferences with heavy-hitters in the industry. Its website even has podcast interviews with boldfaced names like Pam Lieberman of Corcoran or Jonathan Miller.
In the old days, one had to go down to the Department of Buildings and deal with surly city workers to find out anything about a building or vacant lot. With Propertyshark, a subscription-based database, anyone can get property informationnthe identity of owners, whether or not they’ve filed for building permits to build higher or turn property into condos, et cetera. It includes information on zoning, prices, foreclosures, and pictures of every single property in New York City. The highest level of membership allows you to access preforeclosure information and owner contact with one click.
The first site I check everyday is the one for the company I work for, Warburg. Then I go to other companies’ websites—Corocoran, Elliman, Brown Harris Stevens, et cetera—and check new listings. Keeping up with new listings and actually going to see the properties are keys to staying informed.
No, it’s not a blog about brownstones: it’s a blog about Brooklyn. This site covers all real estate happenings in Brooklyn. It concentrates on all the hot locales like Park Slope and Red Hook.
The blog Curbed began in May 2004, with an article that I recall made fun of the Hotel on Rivington. The site has since ballooned into the go-to website for independent, unfiltered commentary on the field. Curbed breaks down information by neighborhoods, understanding that each is a mini-city in itself. It also does what the Internet does best: brings together divergent people and opinions and makes them a community. Understanding that restaurants play a huge role in the development of a particular block or area, the site now links to restaurant blogs and articles on openings, closings, and reviews. With a wise-cracking sense of humor, it balances coverage of what we pay attention to and what’s just ridiculous. Like many early blogs, it started being on the outside looking in, and now finds itself an industry standard, with new sites dedicated to Los Angeles and San Francisco.
As a broker, I have access to up-to-the-minute information on any property via a MLS (multiple-listing service) called Rolex. A new site, Streeteasy, helps buyers as well as sellers find this kind of specialized information without a broker. This well-organized site is divided into search areas of not only price and location but school district, development type, and more. Searches come with a useful map andmortgage calculator. There’s a discussion page, statistical information on neighborhoods, and more. I am a big fan of search sites such as these, which help brokers by educating clients.
"Triple-mint" is a term used by real estate brokers to describe a property that’s in pristine condition. The website with this name covers new developments primarily in New York city. It’s loaded with bright pictures, witty and incisive commentary on the architects, developers, interior design, and even web designn in essence, what developers and sales team are communicating about their projects.
Trulia bills itself as the octopus of real estate search engines:
Its tentacles go to all corners of the web so you don’t have to. It aggregates other real estate sites’ listings, including pictures and prices, and even links with Google Maps’ mash-ups so you can see exactly where the property is located. Unfortunately NRT Incorporated, the parent company of Corcoran and largest real estate company in the country, has forbidden Trulia to link to their site. And in the burbs, a fair amount of real estate is sold through print classifieds Pennysaver and local real estate offices that don’t have websites. If anything, it’s a good place to start your initial search, but you will have to dig deeper elsewhere once you get serious about buying.
I check this site once a week. Massey is the number-one commercial broker in New York City. Whenever I get calls from architects looking for new office spaceesomething they can design to show their chopssor artists who want to work or live in a commercial building, I send them here. Okay, now you know; no need to call me anymore.
New York Post
Real Estate Section
This gem of a section comes out every Thursday. Though often overlooked, it covers all of New York and consistently breaks down the intricacies of purchasing or selling real estate. It has a great question-and-answer section, quality pictures, and their topics really have something to do with typical New Yorkers’ lives, unlike many other sources that obsess endlessly about which celebrity bought what multi-million dollar property.
The New York Times
The New York Times real estate section is the absolute first stop of serious buyers and sellers. Their online site is a resource I use three to four times a day. Updated constantly and easy to read, it’s the best place on the web for searching New York City property. The site also aggregates many websites of major real estate companies so there is no need to go to each individual company website. Major tip: When you see a property listed over and over by many different companies, or there is no actual address, its signals that it is an open listing, not an exclusive, and you don’t need a broker to see the property.
The Villager, Tribeca Tribune, Resident, Downtown Express, Brooklyn Papers, and other neighborhood newspapers are a great source of real estate news. Their highly localized focus means they are often filled with firsthand, first-to-the-scene reports about what’s going on every parcel of land or bar or restaurant within their borders. And these publications tend often list Community Board agendassan invaluable resource.
The New York Sun
Definitely worth checking out. Informative, often overlooked stories which you will usually find written about weeks later in bigger newspapers and magazines.
This site bills itself as a consumer-awareness site where buyers and sellers can obtain more accurate real estate sales information than what brokers might offer. It’s source of consternation for some real estate agents, but for me, let’s just say I’m not shaking in my boots. If you think I’m being flippant, enter your own address and find out how incorrectly they value your apartment.