UrbanDigs head leaves Halstead for venture

Aug.August 12, 2009 03:07 PM
alternate textBlogger Noah Rosenblatt leaves Halstead Property (Animation by Derek Zahedi)

Well-known blogger Noah Rosenblatt has left his post as an associate broker at Halstead Property to focus more attention on his popular real estate analysis Web site, UrbanDigs.com, and launch a new consulting business.

Rosenblatt will continue to work as a real estate agent for now, but his license is now being held by the newly founded company associated with his Web site, UrbanDigs Analytics and Consulting.

Over the next six to eight months, Rosenblatt and his partner, Jeff Bernstein, will also redesign the Web site “to make it more social and interactive,” and add a suite of analytical tools to help buyers and sellers assess the state of the real estate market, Rosenblatt said.

A former equities trader, Rosenblatt has gained a loyal coterie of followers since he founded the UrbanDigs.com blog in 2005, applying his knowledge of macroeconomics to real estate. By mid-2007, Rosenblatt was predicting the end of the Manhattan real estate bubble.

“I always thought the industry had a car salesman-like approach,” Rosenblatt said. “The goal of UrbanDigs has always been to provide an unbiased view of what’s happening.”

The revamped Web site will take that one step further, providing “an ahead-of-the-curve source for where the market is trending,” Rosenblatt said. That could include data on inventory, price reduction and contracts signed, though he remained mum on exactly where the data will come from. The redesigned site should launch in early 2010, he said, though other features may come later.

Meanwhile, Rosenblatt will continue to work as a real estate sales agent, he said, though eventually, he plans to transition to offering flat-fee consulting services.

“With no vested interest in the transaction, I can better service my clients’ needs without the bias that comes in a commission-based industry,” he said.

UrbanDigs currently averages about 4,000 visits a day, he said.

Bernstein said the goal is for the new site to bring more transparency to the industry.

“Urban Digs hopes to be a catalyst for change,” he said.

Another real estate blogger, Douglas Heddings of TrueGotham.com, recently left Prudential Douglas Elliman to form his own group at Charles Rutenberg Realty in New York City, citing greater blogging autonomy as one reason for his departure.

Rosenblatt is known for his sometimes dire view of the market, and Halstead sometimes asked him to identify himself solely as the founder of UrbanDigs, not as a Halstead broker, when making public appearances and statements. But Rosenblatt said that had nothing to do with his recent departure.

“This has been part of the plan along,” he said.

Unlike industry veteran Heddings, Rosenblatt is relatively new to real estate and is better known as a blogger than as an agent. 

Rosenblatt began his career at Citi Habitats five years ago and moved to Halstead in January 2008.

“I registered UrbanDigs.com before I got my real estate license,” Rosenblatt said. “I wanted a new career and real estate was my second passion, so I thought, ‘why not get involved in real estate and at the same time build this blog concept?'”

As a broker, Rosenblatt has worked mostly with buyers, he said. His recent sales include a studio at 1 Wall Street Court, an East Harlem townhouse and a two-bedroom at the Laurel condominium on the Upper East Side, he said.

“We wish him the best,” said a spokesperson for Diane Ramirez, president of Halstead.

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