Streeteasy.com moves into Hamptons market; Elliman, Hamptons Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage onboard

By Candace Taylor | June 11, 2009 05:36PM

Real Estate listings Web site Streeteasy.com has expanded again, this time to the notoriously opaque Hamptons real estate market.

Starting today, Streeteasy.com has debuted some 5,000 sale listings and 10,000 rental listings on the East End of Long Island, said Derrick Gross, a business analyst at Streeteasy.

Gross said the company is aiming to bring more transparency to the Hamptons real estate market, which, with no centralized multiple listing service, currently offers customers very little listing information, with property addresses and even asking prices rarely accessible.

A great deal of real estate in the Hamptons — traditionally a playground for the rich and famous — has traded hands through word of mouth, while celebrities’ brokers prided themselves on their discretion, Gross said.

“The brokerages haven’t been forthcoming with their data,” Gross said, adding that in terms of transparency, the Hamptons is “one of the worst [markets] in the country. Really, Manhattan and the Hamptons are the only places in the country without an MLS.”

That’s where Streeteasy.com comes in.

The popular site posts listing information — including  increases and decreases in price — by “scraping” data from real estate Web sites and direct feeds from real estate brokers. The site is also posting closed sales data from municipal records, just as it does in New York City.

Prudential Douglas Elliman and NRT-owned Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage are among the first companies to agree to send all of their Hamptons listings directly to Streeteasy.com, several times a day.

“They are the number one search engine now in New York for real estate,” said Matt Austin, Elliman’s head of marketing and IT for the Hamptons. “That’s the way the consumer likes to search, and we want to be a part of it.”

He said Elliman hopes that Streeteasy.com’s popularity will help drive traffic to Elliman’s listings, especially since 90 to 95 percent of the firm’s Hamptons customers come from the New York City area.

“From the Hamptons perspective, Streeteasy.com is the Long Island Expressway of the Web for us,” said Paul Brennan, Elliman’s Hamptons regional manager. “It’s the biggest site in New York, and the Hamptons really is an extension of New York.”

Austin added that by sending listings data directly to Streeteasy.com, Elliman can make sure that the information is up-to-date and accurate, and provide additional data that’s not available to scrapers.

The more information a listing provides, the more site users are attracted to it, Gross said.

And, in turn, “The more data a listing has, the more views it gets on our site,” he said.

Austin said he believes Elliman is only the first of many real estate firms with Hamptons offices that will soon start sending their data to Streeteasy.com.

“It’s going to take a little while for other agencies to catch up,” he said. “But they’re going to realize they want to be there as well.”

Michael Daly, a broker and author of the Hamptons Real Estate Blog, said Streeteasy.com will likely be welcomed by Hamptons consumers, especially since it’s become popular in Manhattan.

“I think [Streeteasy.com] will be accepted readily because they’ve established themselves in the Manhattan market,” he said. “The Manhattan market is like the big sister market to the Hamptons.” Streeteasy.com was founded in 2006 and covers New York City and recently, North Jersey.

Still he said, there are some obstacles for Streeteasy.com in the Hamptons. First, he said, Suffolk County is much slower to record sales data than New York City, he said, so Streetasy.com data on past sales for the Hamptons won’t be as plentiful as it is in Manhattan.

Moreover, many Hamptons brokers don’t use specific addresses in their listings, Daly said, which will make it harder for Streeteasy.com to keep track of the data.

“People are hungry for transparency,” he said. “But if the agencies don’t map their listings, part of the transparency isn’t going to work.”

And not all East End brokers welcome the idea of a new listings Web site in the area.

“I have a little resentment towards aggregators,” said John Nickles, the president of Hamptons and North Fork Realtors Association and the principal member of brokerage Lewis & Nickles. “I don’t need people stepping between me and the customers.”

He added that there are already many Web sites that feature East End listings, including Realtor.com and Hamptons Real Estate Online, as well as brokers’ own Web sites.

Streeteasy.com planned to move into the Hamptons market more than a year ago, but got “sidetracked” with other projects, Gross said. As a result, the site already has a stockpile of Hamptons data.

“We have some really good history,” Gross said, noting that some East End listings have fallen in price by 50 percent. “That’s great for the consumer.”

He added that the additional market information could help stabilize the hard-hit Hamptons market, since additional information about price cuts can help convince buyers they’re getting a good deal.

“It gives them more incentive to move on the property,” he said.

Only time will tell how fully the East End real estate community will embrace Streeteasy.com, Daly said.

“There’s no way of knowing for sure if the companies and the agents will cooperate,” he said. “But it would be a good thing if they did.”