Firms Could Hasten Shift to More Exclusives in Brooklyn

In Manhattan, around 90 percent of properties are sold through exclusive listings, where a seller signs a contract with a broker to “exclusively” represent a property. But in Brooklyn there is a mix of open listings and exclusive listings, though it is slowly moving towards exclusive listings only.

Going forward, company heads said that Manhattan firms entering the Brooklyn marketplace will likely have an effect on listings, hastening Brooklyn towards a model more similar to Manhattan’s.

“Open listings, where the seller retains the right to list with anyone he chooses, were the norm through about 1997,” said Chris Thomas, President of William B. May in Brooklyn. “Now, they are no longer the norm, and probably represent 35 to 40 percent of sales.”

Thomas said his company, because of experienced brokers and a large referral base, generally prefers open listings. The company first looks to sell a property to its existing client base, and then, if necessary, share the listing with other brokers. “People should understand they are hiring us because we have the most experienced agents in Brooklyn,” said Thomas. “We have a huge referral base, and we expect to sell it among the people who exist in the client base now.”

By contrast, Corcoran and Fillmore are advocates of sharing listings with other firms right from the start, though there is not always cooperation among firms.

“Our philosophy is very actively co-broking,” said Magnett, “But even though we have the majority of listings on the market, the majority of firms are still reluctant to co-broke.”

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There is a Multiple Listing Service for Brooklyn, though Corcoran isn’t a part of it. The MLS connects about 200 brokers in Brooklyn. So far it is only for brokers, but in the next 60 days a new Web site will be unveiled that will share listings with consumers as well. It will be located at

Reinhardt said he and his company, Fillmore, have taken a large role in getting the MLS going and that the company is a strong advocate of exclusives, noting it has more exclusives than anyone else in Brooklyn. “The MLS will be great for consumers,” Reinhardt said.

Meanwhile, Magnett said she is currently undertaking efforts to boost the Brooklyn division of The Real Estate Board of New York. A second meeting of the chapter will take place soon, and Magnett thinks the organization will begin to thrive once more Manhattan companies open up shop in Brooklyn. “I think it will become easier to recruit members once other Manhattan firms get established here,” she said. If that happens, she said she expects to see more co-brokering among all firms.

“I think if that happens, the co-broke situation will be corrected,” she said. “Sellers would demand it.”

Magnett also sees a need for modernizing some other aspects of real estate in Brooklyn, like technology.

“Every agent at Corcoran has their own computer, but they don’t have that in many other companies,” she said. “In that respect, Brooklyn is the way Manhattan was 20 years ago.”