Monday, June 19, 2006

Heating Up In More Ways Than One...

Summer is right around the corner and things are heating up here in the Big Apple.

As predicted, the rental vacancy rate sank to under .5% for May 2006, meaning that fewer than 5 apartments per 1000 were vacant and available for rent. We rental agents are facing a lot of situations where there are perhaps three apartments that might fit our client's needs, if we're lucky. Alas, we are facing a lot of shell-shocked individuals out there... people who are realizing too late that there just aren't that many places to see.

One interesting highlight of the week is that Craigslist finally started charging 10$ a listing for rental listings. There are a lot of mixed feelings about this. The main idea is that consumers would not be bombarded every day by the same listings - agents would post several times a day just to stay near the top of the listings. With the new charge, that will not happen nearly as often. Second, smaller outfits may be hurt by the fact that Craigslist is no longer free.

I'm pretty philosophical about this. While I certainly did manage to get some clients from Craigslist, I welcome the idea that I don't have to post incessantly - a task that can take several hours out of a day depending on how I do it. I plan to post my own listings on Craigslist, and not the same ones that everyone else is.

Second, most small brokerages started because the principal(s) had a small base of loyal landlords and/or owners who promised to stick with them. These people will have exclusive listings and they will advertise them on Craigslist and pay the 10$ charge - it's not that excessive. For those people who don't, it's time to hustle.

Third, I'm hoping that Craig will institute a similar (though possibly lesser) charge for the "rent by owner" listings. Within eight hours of Craig beginning to charge, several brokers had started posting on the "by owner" portion of the site. Naturally, I find this very distasteful, and probably so do many of the consumers who answered the ads. Other brokers started flagging these fake listings immediately and I'm glad to say that Craig has worked with them. But I think that Craig has better things to do with his time and should consider charging up to $5 per listing. It won't be too much to deter serious owners and just enough to deter brokers who must be desperate to resort to shady dealings such as these.

I personally intend to continue using Craigslist and am happy that I no longer have to pay so much attention to it.

Things are moving along here as the summer goes. I will have several new exciting listings in Chinatown, Gramercy, and down home in Windsor Terrace... Stay Tuned!

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