Struggling to find homes in outer boroughs

October 31, 2011 10:50AM

Searching for a New York home can be more difficult in the outer boroughs, the New York Times reported, with small independent brokerages still dominating many neighborhoods. These tiny firms are often family-run businesses that specialize in specific neighborhoods and shy away from technology, making information more difficult to come by.

“Every neighborhood has its own little brokerage company,” said Michael Carfagna, the founder of MPC Properties in Queens. “We basically specialize in Jackson Heights.”

In Queens, for example, apartment hunters find it more difficult to find open houses, which are often scattered over a whole week instead of on a Saturday or Sunday, and a broker that is knowledgeable enough to show them around different areas.

“I really think what holds people back from exploring Queens is that there are so many different neighborhoods,” said Susanne Gutermuth, an associate broker at the Bayside office of Prudential Douglas Elliman. “The biggest part of the process is figuring out where they want to go.”

For couples with children, Gutermuth said, top neighborhoods in Queens include Forest Hills, Bayside and Flushing, while single buyers tend to be more interested in Astoria, Long Island City and Jackson Heights.

Another major factor is the reluctance on the part of many outer borough brokerages to use the Internet.

“I’m constantly amazed at how little or how poorly many small brokers use technology,” said Jonathan Butler, founder of Brownstoner.com. “In many neighborhoods, you really do have to walk the block or ride your bike around to look for a shingle out front.” [NYT]