I love New York City, because it is a dramatic space with fluid and dynamic energy and an artistic underlying climate. Being a real estate broker, is challenging, but it is also exciting. Throughout the years, open source players and creative programmers have tried to find a way to democratize data in the real estate landscape. After acknowledging that New York City’s real estate data has mostly operated in closed, non cybernetic systems prior to listing aggregators – they realized that it would behoove them, to mostly create tools that brokers can use to facilitate a transaction, or create spaces where brokers and prospective buyers and leasees could try to find real time data to negotiate a transaction based on a macro, contextually relevant comparisons. With aggregators, they welcomed the real estate industry’s willingness to share data and create an overall market place for all. Thus, consumers became locally familiar with the marketplaces, and brokers were able to find direct customers/clients. That is, until every new aggregator, or provider of real estate data, decides, that they are more interested in the classical brokerage model for controlling data and turning profit. Thus, democratizing of information is great, but then, they want to be compensated for the service that they provide, and what better way than to use the content already provided by the real estate players who kept the information in closed systems and by default control the market. A conflict of interest is born, and regardless of how many new tools are used to democratize this particular data, the content providers will pull back because it affects their profits. Data sharing is shrinking because of the push and pull that technocratization of this particular type of information purports, and the landscape is not ready to lose power or control of extremely valuable data with fancy profits. New York City’s real estate landscape is interesting because it contains different types of properties, and for each, a unique process. Furthermore, there are laws dictating how each property can operate within the macro landscape. Brokers are needed; technology is useful – what will the future bring for this complex landscape? will owners accept that an agent would not want to list their property in a given space, because this will mean having to share the commission? Will that owner receive the highest bid? will that owner still be paying the same commission amount if the buyer comes directly to the listing agent vs having to co broke it with a buyer’s agent representing a customer? Do buyers even care who represents them, and rather go directly to the seller’s agent because this will guarantee them getting the property that they want? If a buyer’s agent doesn’t know a property, his/her job is to conduct due diligence, and by default the understanding is that the professional has experience and knowledge in reference to the process, pricing and market movement. Will owners even care or understand how this paradigm shift impacts the bottom line? will the brokerage system change? Only time will tell.
Everything seems brighter in New York City today; the sun is bursting over the fabulous skyscrapers populating the radiant and inviting blue sky. Aside from the warm climate, the sales market is leading with a healthy uptick in movement and pricing. While there are factors that can contribute to the shift in pricing each quarter, in 2014 there seems to be a trend – inventory is low and prices are in the upswing. There are factors that contribute the market conditions, and there is an underlying cycle to the degree that eventually prices will reach a stasis. Subsequently, there is still technically a window of “opportunity” for real estate players. Cash is king, and that is true for buyers who do not need financing. What may be “too expensive” for some, can be an opportunity for others in our global economic landscape. Additionally, in Manhattan, the complexity of zoning and air rights, price for the land, as well as historic landmark allocation in some areas will continue to generate demand for land where development can occur. There is a nice segment of new construction, but in the high-end market, because the incentives to build “affordable” housing have diminished. Companies spend millions trying to crunch numbers and data to hedge identify the exact time, space and mobility of an asset– not even for a solid rock of gold do we know the trajectory, or do we?. The NYC real estate market is fascinating, dynamic, and the exact future of its peak or lack there of, somewhat evasive, but while in the moment – just a slice of the macro dynamics here in NYC.