The Daily Dirt: Big changes at real estate trade groups

RSA and CHIP merger, an RSA rival

Real Estate Trade Groups to Undergo Major Changes
Compass' Jason Haber, The Agency's Mauricio Umansky, RSA's Joe Strasburg and CHIP's Jay Martin (Getty, Compass, The Agency)

Major changes are on the way for two real estate trade groups.

The Rent Stabilization Association and the Community Housing Improvement Program have been in merger talks for a while, and RSA’s board could vote on the deal this week. The landlord groups have overlapping membership and priorities, and their marriage may result in a more unified message from owners of New York City rental housing.

For entirely different reasons, a new group is aiming to replace the embattled National Association of Realtors. Compass agent Jason Haber and Mauricio Umansky, star broker and co-founder of The Agency, are forming the American Real Estate Association, according to the New York Times.

The new organization has launched a National Listings Service and is departing from NAR in a few key ways. AREA will not have a president, and will allow its member brokers to determine their own commission rates. The group will not require listing agents and buyers’ agents to cooperate, which is, of course, the subject of various litigation against NAR.

“People want something different,” Haber told the newspaper. “We’re setting ourselves up for failure if we try to replicate the NAR model.”

Obviously, the circumstances surrounding these groups are different, but it does seem that these sectors of the industry are at an inflection point. Industry professionals are questioning  what they expect from their trade groups and what role these groups should play in framing the industry to the public.

What we’re thinking about: What communities should the state certify as pro-housing? Send a note to

A thing we’ve learned: Even video games have a real estate connection. Joseph Cayre built his fortune, in part, through the success of MortalKombat, which his company GT Interactive distributed. Thank you to this 2008 New York Post article, which very casually mentions this fact.

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Elsewhere in New York…

—The new subway cars with accordion-style connectors cannot run on express A tracks, Gothamist reports. The design of these so-called gangway trains “makes it impossible” for train operators to conduct required track inspections when the emergency brake is activated, according to an internal MTA memo.

— Someone used artificial intelligence to fake audio of Manhattan Democratic Party boss Keith Wright dissing Assembly member Inez Dickens, Politico New York reports. “In an attempt to divide Harlem, someone created AI-generated audio that was misogynist and disrespectful to the legacy of our esteemed Assemblywoman,” Wright posted on Facebook Sunday.

— The city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene issued an advisory Wednesday identifying social media as an “environmental health toxin,” CBS News reports. New York is the first city to make such a designation, according to the administration.

Closing Time

Residential: The priciest residential closing Wednesday was $30.5 million for a condo at Extell Development’s 157 West 57th Street in Midtown.

Commercial: The most expensive commercial closing of the day was Jeff Sutton’s sale of 717 Fifth Avenue to Gucci’s owner for $963 million.

New to the Market: The priciest residence to hit the market Wednesday was a condo at 215 East 19th Street in Gramercy Park asking $15 million. Douglas Elliman has the listing. — Jay Young