REBNY plans new open house web feature

By Lauren Elkies | November 19, 2007 09:59AM

The Real Estate Board of New York plans to launch a new open house tracking feature on its free residential Web portal, ResidentialNYC.com, said the board’s president, Steven Spinola.

Come January, house hunters will be able to go to a single site to view locations of open houses, rather than jump from one brokerage Web site to another.

“I really think people will love it when it comes on,” Spinola said.

Also at the beginning of the year, the portal, powered by real estate search engine Trulia, will provide access to a Web site that evaluates public schools in the city.

The portal gives the public access to all of the exclusive sales and rental listings of its members on one site, bypassing classified ads and other Web listings.

When the service officially debuted on September 28th, it included 3,000 listings from 60 firms. Now there are 4,000, and a few more small firms have signed on, but real estate giants Prudential Douglas Elliman and the Corcoran Group have continued to opt out.

Spinola called ResidentialNYC.com a success, and said that in its first month, it had 2.5 million hits, with 20,000 unique visitors. The average time spent on the Web site is nine minutes.

The topic of open houses has been in the news lately, after a series of open house burglaries were reported on the Upper West Side. Spinola said the new ResidentialNYC.com feature would not make home owners or brokers any more vulnerable to theft than if their listings were on individual broker Web sites.

Four burglaries were reportedly committed by two women — or maybe one woman and one man in drag — posing as buyers on two recent Sundays.

“I believe it’s a very rare situation. It appears to be one couple that is doing this,” Spinola said. “Because open houses are such a critical part of home buying and home selling, they’re going to continue and we’ll just have to be more alert to ensure that these things don’t happen.” By Lauren Elkies