2009 Jun 28th

We All Love to Discuss the Hoboken Real Estate Market And So We Shall

Hoboken Real Estate News

This blog is written by, and is purely the personal opinion of  Howard and myself.  We primarily discuss the Hoboken real estate market, among other things.  It is not affiliated with, nor does it in any way reflect the opinions of The Liberty Board, The Hudson County MLS (“HCMLS”), the New Jersey Association of Realtors (“NJAR”), the National Association of Realtors (“NAR”),  or any other person or organization.    While we happen to be real estate agents, we do not and have never sold real estate on this blog.  In our opinion, this site is not commercial and we have never “advertised” MLS or any other property listings, or ourselves on this blog.   There is no search engine for properties or “find a home” function here.  There never has been.   We believe that by providing useful advice and information, intelligent, thoughtful buyers and sellers will recognize our skills and the value we add and will seek out our services and listed properties on our fully-conforming agent website hobokensbesthomes.com.

The HCMLS asserts that by including links to MLS listings in our analysis we violated one of their rules.  The rule prohibits “advertising”  of a listing that is not ours without the prior permission of the listing agent and the listing agency.  (The listing is the property of the ageny, not the agent).   It is not feasible to obtain the prior permission for every property on the market prior to publish the link to each listing.  That is why the HCMLS initiated the Internet Data Exchange (“IDX”) system.  IDX allows an agent to pay the HCMLS for a data feed of the MLS listings.  We have been told we are permitted to put a search engine for the IDX feed on our agent website or here.  The resulting listings say “courtesy of Coldwell Banker or Weichert Realtors” and have the listing agents name and phone.  Although we could pay the HCMLS to put IDX on this site, we don’t find IDX very useful.  It is a very elementary program that does not allow us or you to sort, analyze or compile the resulting information in any meaningful way.

In our  posts we had been including a link to the  ‘customer copy’ of the MLS listings.  This copy is generated by HCMLS’s computer program.  It can be emailed by any agent to anyone.   The customer copy is an attenuated version of the ‘agent report’ that agents access through the MLS computer program.  The agent report includes the listing agent and agency and the commission amount and the number of days the property has been on the market.  Agent reports cannot be emailed.  The HCMLS determines what fields of information appear on the customer copy.  It now has only the name and contact info of the agent who generates the report at the bottom of the page.  Since the content of the information on each customer copy is exactly what is provided on a listing searched through the IDX feed, it would seem that if a brokerage granted permission for its listings to be included in the IDX feed it would also apply to the customer copy.  The substance is the same, the information is just accessed and presented in a different form.  If the HCMLS were worried that a consumer would be mislead and think that every single listing in Hudson County were ours,  (or any other agent’s who thought to post the links) the HCMLS could include the listing agent info on the customer copy but they haven’t.

The HCMLS has fined us $50 a day for posting the links.  They threatened to deny us access to the MLS, which would effectively put us out of business, unless we removed them going back for a 30 day period, which we have done.  While we can no longer post the links, the HCMLS allows all agents to email the very same link to anyone who requestes said info.  As such, from now on we will email reports with links, but only upon request so as not to violate any rules.  Last week we published the Weekly Wednesday Wrap Up without the links (as we will continue to do) and asked you to email us if you wished to receive the report with the links.  We  received HUNDREDS of requests this week.  My inbox was a mess.  We are creating a private email distribution list.  My apologies for the one email that accidentally had email addresses in “To” instead of “bcc”.  I was a bit overwhelmed by this whole episode.  The only thing that will change on this blog is that we will not post MLS links.  The weekly Open House Google Map is going to need some tweaking as well.  We’re working on it and appreciate your patience.  Everything else will continue as always.

We are licensed real estate agents and abide by the regulations of our governing bodies with respect to selling real estate, which we do on our official agent website, hobokensbesthomes.com.  The HCMLS and the NJ Real Estate Commission (which is a governmental agency) can surely regulate the time, place and manner of our commercial speech.  They can possibly regulate the content of our speech when we are selling real estate.  We have made and will continute to make every attempt to comply with their rules and regulations with regard to our commercial site.  There are scores of agents in Hoboken with agent websites that are in screaming violation of the HCMLS and RE Commission rules.

I studied First Amendment law as a student at Boston University Law School where I was on the Law Review and graduated magna cum laude.   I spent two years as a law clerk to a judge in Federal Court in the District of Columbia.  When I was a practicing attorney, I served on the New York State Bar Association First  Amendment committee with  Floyd Abrams.   (I am still a member of the bar of the State of New York in good standing, officially of retired status).  Some of our readers are attorneys and may be experts but I do know a little about free speech.  Hobokenrealestatenews.com is our personal blog on the subject of Hoboken real estate.   We express our observations and opinions of the Hoboken real estate market, community and local economy.    It is not commercial speech.  We appreciate your support.  I wish I had the time to respond to each and every one of your individual messages saying how much value you find in our information.  We will continue to do everything we can to provide open, honest, transparent information.

  1. Tiger

    Thanks a lot Lori and Howard! We all truly appreciate your efforts.

    I read this post and shake my head. It’s still the United states, isn’t it? For a minute it sounded like we moved country overnight.

  2. Andy

    Lori & Howard, Thanks so much for all you do. Its very clear to everyone that you must have struck a sore spot with HCMLS and other 2bit agencies in Hoboken. You raised the bar by providing open and transparent information which unfortunately Hudson County has always recoiled from in all forms(Political and Retail). The mere fact that these other agencies felt threatened by the work that you guys have been doing speaks volumes. In the end, this website has created a fiercly loyal following and you guys should feel satisfaction for all your hard work.

  3. FAP

    It seems that being a realtor does not make one a good business person. This is directed at the bone heads who figure that fewer people seeing their listing will improve their chances of closing a sale, not at Lori or Howard.

    Making the market more transparent IMPROVES volume and volume is one of the two factors in figuring gross commissions.

    I personally am looking at moving to a new rental unit and right now because craigslist and the realtor websites are so poor I’ve had trouble finding decent information on open rentals! That means that some unit has likely gone unrented and a realtor, who very well be struggling to make ends meet, has lost out on a commission.

    Ignoring technology that brings transparency to markets is not a sustainable business plan. It’s not 1995 anymore and those who don’t evolve will die.

    Lori and Howard thank you for helping people find homes. If other Realtors had any good sense they’d be sending you thank you card for helping them move inventory and they’d be telling the listing service where to stick it.

    Keep up the good work!

  4. Mansard Commercial Properties

    I like what you’re saying ‘FAP.’ If you keep up with yellow book ADs to increase sales and commission, you will fail…especially in this market. The internet is easier to update and much more accessible to find properties available. Clearly, this is where the world is heading, and buisnesses have to get used to it.

  5. Buyer

    Lori and Howard, thanks for everything that you do! If the real estate industry was smart, it would provide all the transparency itself. No wonder we are in the crisis we are in…

  6. JC

    Interesting news regarding ETF’s: UMM (bull) and DMM (bear) were designed to offer U.S. housing exposure with exchange traded liquidity but without issuer and counterparty credit risk.

    UMM and DMM are benchmarked to the S&P/Case-Shiller Composite-10 Home Price Index, the most widely watched home price index in the world, which is a weighted measure of home price changes in the following metropolitan areas:

    Las Vegas
    Los Angeles
    New York
    San Diego
    San Francisco
    Washington, D.C.

  7. Trey A

    And you wonder why most people refer to agents as crooks and a useless profession. This is just as bad as when the president of the NAR went on TV in 2007 saying it has never been a better time to buy a home.

    Its sad, but I truly hope the internet brings commissions down to 2-3% or no need of an agent at all…

  8. Tiger

    Trey, that’s not fair. Just like any profession, there are good and bad RE agents. That’s just how it is.

    I am an IT consultant for an enterprise software, we work with different clients, different vendors, and yes, even side by side with competitors. You’d be amazed how many highly paid ‘experts’ mess up million dollar projects; giving all consultants a bad reputation. It makes it much harder for a small company like us to get business; but over 90% of our business is return customers / direct referrals from prior clients, so not everyone is ‘bad’

  9. Trey A

    Tiger – I am referring to the people who run the profession – the true representatives. The NAR is basically a mafia\monopoly like agency, that can go around and bullying and and suppressing information. This is completely unconstitutional, and the agency gets away with price fixing (see commissions), suppressing information, as well as scare tactics. I know that some FSBO listers have been threatened by agents if they dont use a broker.

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