New York Real Estate with HGAR CEO and OneKey MLS President


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Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors CEO Richard Haggerty knows New York real estate. He's been working with HGAR for over 30 years, bur has never seen a year like 2020. While the news narrative may hyped up the rental exodus, Richard testifies to the skills of NYC Realtors to adjust and refocus efforts on the suburb markets, which are growing and thriving. Listen as he explains how the NY state of mind helped real estate agents prosper, and how the need for a unified MLS will help everyone, but most importantly, the consumer.


Welcome to Brokerage Insider the podcast where we interview the leaders in real estate and technology.

I'm your host Britt Chester Director of Marketing Success at TRIBUS one of the largest independent prop tech companies in real estate and provider of custom brokerage technology to medium and large brokerages today on the show we are joined by Richard Haggerty. Richard is the CEO, the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, Inc, and president and chief strategic growth officer of One Key MLS.

Richard, thanks for joining us today.

It is my pleasure, Britt. You know, Richard, we spoke last year at Inman connect, New York and well, a lot has changed. Can you sort of take me through, let's start if we can even start at January of last year w you know, where we were a little bit more optimistic, things kind of changed after that and kind of give me your 30,000 foot view from the, from your members view, as well as the consumers in your area and the opportunities they were confronted with during this incredibly tumultuous year in real estate.

Wow. You know, I've been in this business for 35 years. I have not ever seen anything like 20, 20 quite frankly. I hope I don't see anything like it again, it was, it was a tale of two years in one year. You had actually, you could make an argument with like three stages of the year. We were very optimistic in the first quarter of 2020.

The sales were looking really, really strong. The market and our entire geography was looking really, really strong, and we've got a very diverse geography. We cover Manhattan. We actually merged with the Bronx in the middle of the pandemic in July all the way up to that, to the Valley.

So four counties in the Hudson Valley, Westchester, Rockland, peppermint, orange, and all, all of that geography was just looking really strong. But then March happened and it was actually the middle of the third week of March, where literally within a week, everything shut down. I had to close my office.

Fortunately, we kind of seen the writing on the wall and we were able to transition all of our staff to working from home seamlessly. But real estate for all intents and purposes was shut down. Agents could not show up visibly show properties. And it was scary. I mean, I live in the upper East side of Manhattan.

And that became a ghost town very, very quickly. So yeah, I think everybody come that the end of that first quarter the end of March in the, for the most part, all of April, we were just really pretty much scared. Europe was really the epicenter. Our infection numbers were extremely high, the highest in the country early on in the pandemic.

And everybody was just, you know, shut up in their homes. And a lot of folks, if they had a second homes, they headed to wherever the second homes were, whether it was out in the Hamptons, up in the Poconos they got out of town. You know, and I think part of that narrative we were seeing from the outside, looking in, in New York was this, this mass Exodus kind of like, you're talking about people where we're going to the second homes, but I think there was also a lot of people who didn't have second homes.

And so they started to look to where they came from it and move out. And so that, you know, again, that, that narrative kind of painted by the news was this, this empty city, what was it like. Living there. And what were your members you know, part of the association, what were they going through and what were their thoughts and what were the concerns that they were bringing you to you and to your executive team there?

Hudson gateway association of Realtors. Well, first off, I think everybody was in a state of shock initially because it happened so quickly. And especially in New York, it was a bit of an avalanche. So I think everybody was scared. Everybody was a little bit shell shocked and nobody really wanted to go show properties.

We didn't have buyers who were comfortable going to view properties for the most part early on in the pandemic. So really I'm talking about April come may. I think that started to change with the spring, people were starting to get a little bit ancy We've got a better handle on what was going on with the COVID-19.

How has, and it was handled pretty aggressively in New York, I think in the early days. And what we really had to do with some sensation was keep our members informed. What could they do? What couldn't they do so they could show homes virtually. And a lot of folks were already set up to be able to show them virtually.

And that did happen to some degree. Closing started to take place because we had virtual notary memorization approved in the state. So those properties were in contract prior to the pandemic slowly but surely we're able to be closed, but for all intents and purposes, you know, that second quarter was wiped out.

So. April through the middle of June was really, there was no business going on because of the activity curtailed by the governor's executive orders in New York which prohibited in-person showings. But that did change come the middle of June. I believe it was the second week of June where showings were allowed to happen again with safety protocols in place.

And as I said, it was really the, the tail of. Two years, because all of a sudden, what was a non-existent work, it just took off. And that was actually in large part due to the fact that a lot of folks from the city were now buying in the suburbs and it was the Connecticut suburbs. It was the New York suburbs both Westchester County and long Island.

And it was just a tremendous surge of buyer interest that occurred in that when then for the balance of 2020. And how did you navigate that? Cause again, you know, the seams, you know, I've said this a lot, it's this anomaly year of real estate you know, unprecedented on one hand, but also a completely unplanned.

And I don't think anyone really knew how to handle that. How are you all kind of navigating that those opportunities and directing, you know, consumers and kind of guiding your clients in that way. From my expected what the association role on that was really, again, just being a conduit of accurate information and getting that information out as quickly as possible which we continue to do now.

We're actually doing it with the eligibility for vaccines. It just went from 65 to 60 yesterday. So we've got that notice out to our members ASAP. So we still are fulfilling that role. But I think a big part of it had to do the resiliency of our members Realtors really bounced back in a very strong way.

They did what they needed to do during that second quarter, when everybody basically had to hunker down and stay safe, keep their family safe and your consumer saying, okay. But then when we opened back up, they were there using safety protocols. To help the consumers, that they have relationships with find additional home.

And, you know, sometimes it wasn't even folks selling in Manhattan and buying in the Hudson Valley or Wyland a lot of times it's just quite frankly, folks buying a second home. And so they have those options going forward. I think that it was the whole Exodus from New York city was a little bit overplayed.

I do think that some folks who are. Starting families who were thinking about moving to the suburbs for whatever reason, because they wanted you know, green grass and schools in the suburbs, those folks have that decision making process feed it up because of the pandemic. So I don't think that necessarily led to an Exodus that you know, is going to continue.

I think it just speeded up the process and folks who are already thinking of moving out to the suburbs, they've made that decision more quickly. And again, you know, when, when you and I spoke in June where you'd kind of teased One Key MLS, you know, it was, it was on the horizon at the time. And I think, you know, you all chose to do something pretty unique and you know, really, really present that wow factor with, with launching one MLS, I think, like you said, at the height of the pandemic, talk to me about kind of the decision, the decision to do that, and, you know, continue moving forward with that decision.

And some of the unknown barriers that you might've encountered, you know, as with that launch and rollout. So to be honest, the reasons why we created One Key and One Key is a regional MLS it's owned by the Hudson gateway association of Realtors in the long Island board of Realtors was to really take advantage of the power of our geography for the benefit of our Realtor members.

You have a lot of regional on the lessons, much larger than ours. You know, we've got a large one, we've got over 42,000 subscribers. We've got about 4,400 brokerage offices. But we hit, you know, their, their larger MLS is around the country and, you know, California you've got bright MLS on the East coast.

But those are not really specific to geography per se, where we really wanted to. Focus on the New York city geography in the tri-state area, in terms of anywhere buses and trains go in and out of you know, New York city, we felt that there should be a regional MLS that takes advantage of that geography that I think is even more starkly obvious today than it was pre COVID-19.

Because we truly have become a region. Especially with folks who are now working remotely, they're able to do so in counties where you can't even easily commute, it would be a multi hour commute. But now if you have a second home in Sullivan County and your business is in Manhattan, you can still effectively do business.

So the power of region and the power of geography, I think has become even more apparent during this pandemic period. And we were positioned to take advantage of that. Did you, you know, New York I think is always in a international real estate Mecca, you know, with, with, with, with foreign buyers and foreign investors, did you see any kind of changes with that, with that sort of like traffic to the site or, or did you see any sort of changes with that sort of money kind of coming into the market?

It's interesting. We launched Winky MLS in March of 2020. We launched our consumer facing MLS website in the middle of June. And the traffic was high right off the bat, without question, because again, there was just a lot of interest in the geography that we cover. It's interesting because New York definitely took a much.

A deeper dive in terms of just the, basically the bottom fell out in terms of sales in New York city. It is bounced back more quickly than I anticipated especially in the luxury market there's been, you're really now looking at the same kind of numbers this year, as we were looking prior to the pandemic last year.

Part of that though, is there are. I think deals to be had. And I think especially with a new development developers are actually making deals that they might not have made pre pandemic. So there are a lot of opportunities. The rental market really took a hit and the rental market is still struggling.

And that may take some time to come back, but I quite frankly, Libyan Manhattan. I, you know what I see in the streets today versus what I saw in the streets back in March and April of last year is night and day. I think that there really is a renewed interest in Manhattan because the perception of, you know, that there are deals to be had as well as in Brooklyn and as well as some of the other boroughs, I think the challenge quite frankly, is going to be the commercial market.

The commercial market is going to take a little bit longer to find its feet. I think, you know, you've, you've heard a lot in the press that there probably is going to be some type of hybrid going forward, where some companies will say come into the office, you know, three days a week and work from home two days a week.

I think especially in the next year or two, that probably will be the norm. But I do think the commercial market will get its feet within the next three to five years. That residential quite frankly, is coming back very strong, more quickly than I anticipated in New York city. You see any sort of kind of speaking to that hybrid model, something that came across the news here in Denver somebody was calling this place, a new developer.

They called it a condo tale and it's it's, they're they're condos that I believe. And I, you know, I'm, I might be butchering this, but I believe there's zoned for like short term. And so people are, are, I guess, how they're marketing. These are two, two investors to do, like long-term and short-term Airbnbs.

And it's just got me curious to know what. Maybe what you're thinking about that, that hybrid model in the commercial market, because there is so much real estate in New York that is, you know, I would say right for disruption right now. What do you kind of think about what that hybrid model looks like?

Or, you know, do you have any, any thoughts on what that could look like? The only thing I can really predict with any clarity as people are going to have to be very creative, you know what we're going to end up with? I don't think we should be. No guessing too much. I think we just have to kind of get creative.

And I think in terms of the hotels and that kind of creativity would match up well with what you just described. I've also heard a lot of folks saying, well, let's convert commercial buildings to affordable housing or residential housing. I think that's where problemat, you know, commercial buildings are just not designed nor plumbed that way.

And I don't know, it just really makes a lot of sense. That you could convert commercial space, especially commercial space. That's older to residential housing, but I do think we've got to get creative and I do think we're still in the early days. I mean, New York, you know, the vaccines are definitely coming in now, the Jacob Javits center is this huge vaccine distribution center and the number of people who are getting vaccinated today.

It's pretty staggering, at least in the urban areas of New York. And I think by may and June, that's really going to make a difference. And I think by the fall that's, especially hopefully by the fall, we'll have, you know, the theaters back open. We'll have all of the arts that have just continued to be shut down, which is such a drain on the New York economy.

And the New York city economy will start to recover. That's what I think people will really start to use that creativity to figure out well, what's life gonna look like for this market and for this area going forward.

We're coming up on the, I would say the one year anniversary. What would you say, you know, looking at, you're looking at your members and looking at, you know, even just kind of New York as a whole, from your view, like you said, you've, you've been with you've been in real estate here for over 35 years.

What have you seen as. Being one of the most valuable kind of pivot points for agents. Cause I think, you know, the industry yeah. Had to shift and I think everybody's models have had to, whether that's through marketing plans just kind of their entire approach to real estate. Again, what have you seen as some of the really valuable pivots that agents have done and that you and the team have done it?

HGA are. No, it's interesting. I've seen so much growth in this industry. In my tenure, when I first came to work for the association, I was 24 years old. I had been looking for a job in publishing and was offered a job to work. Then Westchester County board of Realtors. We had 1,400 members now, or over 12,000 members.

You know, we've merged with several associations since then to create synergies that really, again, go along geographic lines. But I think the more things change, we forget that the more things stay the same and yes, technology has had a huge impact on us in this. It's going to continue to have a big impact on this industry, but it, from my perspective, that's still about the age.

And it's still about the agents relationships with consumers at the end of the day, that was what it was 35 years ago. That's what it is today. I don't see that changing. You just have agents who are able to utilize technology in effective ways. So for example, during the pandemic, I think for very good reason, the whole concept of virtual tours really went up a notch.

And I think that's going to continue to really improve that technology. But that's not going to replace agents all this discussion about, you know, agents are going to go away. I never bought it and I still don't buy it. So I still think at the end of the day, how do we provide better tools for agents?

And as an association, we've got to be careful because we also don't want to step on the toes of the brokers. We don't want to interfere with their value proposition and what they offer to their agents. But there are basic building blocks like education, and certainly we offer a lot more tech education focused on technology than we used to, but we've got to offer those building blocks for agents to succeed in their communities and in their business that has not changed.

That's not going to change. I agree. And, you know, TRIBUS, last year we launched design studio, which was a, kind of like a, a one-stop shop to be able to connect, you know, agents with their clients, through, you know, kind of new flyers and, and creating an easier process there. And I've seen. You know, I think you see more investment in email marketing and you see more investment in you know, digital, digital marketing, whether yeah.

It's in social media or, or Google in ways like that. How have you at One Key MLS sort of like pivoted your marketing efforts both to, to engage your, your Realtors and help them like empower them to reach their consumers and clients. Social media, you know, that that has had a huge impact on our industry.

It's going to continue to have an impact on already has a huge impact on our lives. Let's be honest. And that's a space where I think when can you, that it's been effective, but we've got to give them the better as well as the association. And that's the one area where I think we've got to help our members step up their game.

Social media is going to continue to be a huge conduit communication with consumers. And it's also going to be a conduit of communication between our members. We used to rely on email though. It's interesting. One of the things that we launched very early on in the...

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