For 20 years, I have been looking for the one real estate web site that could deliver content and data without feeling like someone was putting their hand in my pocket, trying to steal my clients, tolerating inaccurate data and fostering the notion that a website is far more valuable than any service I, as real estate agent, could provide.
Eureka! I have found that site: It’s Homes.nyc, and it quietly launched about a week ago in New York. It has the potential to be the successor to big industry players like Streeteasy, Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.
Homes.nyc is filled with glorious video content and with search filters ranging from generic to granular. This splashy website delivers a hyper-local and uniquely global approach to New York’s real estate market. It seamlessly translates into 19 languages and 59 currencies, and can even convert square footage to the metric system.
Homes.nyc sets itself apart with streaming scenes of New York that showcase various neighborhoods at their most captivating. New York’s energy resonates throughout the site: The video and the dramatic photos of properties are populated with the listing details and include critical information such as price history, closed sales data and days on the market.
The site has as of this writing 10,117 sales listings and 20,364 rental listings in Manhattan vs. Streeteasy’s 9,954 sales and 21,523 rentals. The difference on the sales side is that Homes.nyc has some listings of new construction condos that are missing from Streeteasy.
Homes.nyc is owned and developed by Michel Gabriel of Gabriels Technology Solutions. Full disclosure: I have known Michael Gabriel for 20 years, from the days when he published a book of all the rental buildings in New York. He pivoted quickly into the tech space, and by 2000 he was powering the online advertising sections of most major media companies in North America including The New York Times. Gabriels Technology is based in New York with a staff of 200 employees and has offices in India and Romania. Today he provides products and services to the real estate industry in 40 states and 50 countries.
Homes.nyc was birthed in Spring 2019, when the brokers in the Hamptons went to war with a Zillow-owned portal called OutEast. A group of brokerage firms banded together and hired Gabriel to build a website called HamptonsRE.com. This past summer, according to Gabriel, HamptonsRe.com generated 6,500 leads per month from consumers to brokers.
Several of the Hamptons firms have offices in New York City, but getting a large number of competing brokerage firms around the table to agree on a website similar to HamptonsRE.com is a tall order. It should be noted that the real estate trade is not unlike other industries —- music, travel, movies and entertainment—that have been upended by technological disruption because the main players could not get along.
In New York City, the Zillow-owned Streeteasy.com has been eating the breakfast, lunch and dinner of brokers. It charges $6.00/day per rental listing and has expensive advertising modules, including a side business called “lead generation,” which pays Streeteasy a portion of the commission on sales it generates. By any measure, it is an ugly website, built around 2005, and at times it can be confusing as to which agent represents what property. The parent company, Zillow, has so little regard for accurate information on its own website that it labels most co-ops as condos.
Enter Michael Gabriel.
Homes.nyc has flipped the script. Its model is more Shopify than Amazon. Its philosophy: The consumer and broker are all clients. The search filters are robust: A consumer can create searches that will automatically send emails that list the properties the site finds based on your personal parameters. Homes.nyc can send hot sheets of current, newly-listed and reduced properties as well as open houses. It has a section that lists 20,001 agents and is building out individual websites for each. The consumer finally has the ability to read about the agent they are dealing with.
Some of the New York video was built using drones. Videos of streets and buildings were shot by Gabriel himself, who strapped an expensive camera on the roof of his Mercedes SUV and drove every street in Manhattan. He did not want to pay Google for their static Street View, preferring to rely on his own urban aesthetic.
Gabriel is currently developing similar real estate portals for other major metropolitan areas throughout the United States, which he is planning to launch in 2021. He also plans a website for Europe. His vision represents the next generation of real estate websites, and I believe his disruption of the space will not only benefit potential buyers but brokers as well.