A few months ago, StreetEasy made a major change to its marketing platform. This change has affected buyers, sellers, landlords, renters, and of course real estate agents, in a major way. This past Sunday, at an open house, I witnessed a scenario I wasn’t aware of or wasn’t prepared for. I want to share it with everyone.
A couple came to my open house and looked around the apartment. T
hey were first-time home buyers, very excited about the building and very excited about the apartment. They had a slew of questions about the apartment and the condominium. I was able to answer all their questions right on the spot and provided them additional information about the apartment, building, and neighborhood to complete the picture for them. They started feeling comfortable with the idea of purchasing property in NYC
and more specifically the apartment I was showing them.
The day before the open house, these same buyers were connected with a random broker over the StreetEasy platform when they were searching properties to go see. They connected with this broker over email and asked him the time of the open house. He responded and gave them the accurate time but no additional information about his role or the property. Instead, he showed up at the open house 10 minutes after they had arrived and were already speaking with me.
At that point, he told them he was their broker, and he’d be happy to assist them. He was informative and was able to speak about the building and the apartment. The information on both was no different than what I already told them but it probably didn’t hurt for them to hear it another time. It was at this point, that the prospective buyers’ mood changed and they became confused and uncomfortable with the process. You could see it on their faces, they did not want to be in this process where they had to work with someone that they did not know and they were not prepared for in advance. The buyer’s agent became pushy and was holding his position. I quickly backed off, not to add any more trauma or tension to the showing and hoping that the buyers could become comfortable with the situation. They ended up walking out of the open house.
I followed up with the buyers later that day to reassure them that they were more than welcome to work with that broker or any other broker that they choose to work with, but the buyers had been turned off by the process. They were not certain that they wanted to continue to look for an apartment to purchase. They said that they were not going to be working on the StreetEasy platform to look for properties if they did move forward, and they wanted to avoid this property altogether because they feared repercussions from this agent if they bought it without his support. They feared he might come after them for a fee or he might harass them through the process.
This, of course, is not fair to that buyer and not fair to the owner. It doesn’t create a free market for any of these parties, and it turns this once fair and even real estate sales market into a wild west show, where people are pushing forward and fighting to get into the market. It reminds me of the late 1990s, in the rental market, when brokers would be less than forthcoming, offering up misinformation on properties so as to secure a client.
This is not what’s going to help our market. It’s not going to help people fee
l comfortable buying. It’s not going to help people feel comfortable selling or being in the process altogether. We’re all rooting for the brokerages and StreetEasy to sort this out and bring back accurate and transparent information to all parties like it has been for the last 15 years. I really hope that this situation doesn’t happen to me or anyone else in this industry again. I’ll be working over the next few weeks to come up with a solution to this destructive scenario so that the prospective buyers that show up at my open houses are not put in this situ
ation and feel comfortable when seeing a property.
Although disturbing, I thought it was important to get this news out from my Sunday open house.