I noticed that a place I hope to rent has been relisted with a different apartment number. Is this a scam?
If a broker or landlord takes a listing off the market and then relists the apartment with a different unit number, it is usually done to make it appear like a new listing. That’s because the number of days the listing has been on the market will now be reset to zero—or at least look that way.
However, this practice violates the Real Estate Board of New York’s Residential Listing Service policy, according to a REBNY spokesperson. (Note, not all broker firms are members of REBNY, but most large NYC firms are.)
For example, if apartment 3A has been on the market for a couple of months, a broker might take the listing offline and relist it as apartment A3. Brokers typically just take them off for a day, change the apartment number, then relist it as new, says Bill Kowalczuk, a broker at Warburg Realty.
Section 11 of REBNY’s universal co-brokerage agreement is very clear about this maneuver. It says “exclusive brokers and/or exclusive agents cannot circumvent this section by attempting to rename or re-list the exclusive listing."
“If anyone violates this, they would be taken through the compliance policy for the RLS,” a spokesperson says.
It’s also discouraged by most real estate brokerages, says Steven Goldschmidt, senior vice president and director of sales at Warburg Realty.
So why do brokers do it? Mostly to get around the days-on-the-market counter, says Michael J. Franco, a broker at Compass. “There is a perception that too many days on the market is a bad thing, which can be true in some instances,” he says. Apartments that linger on the market might do so because they are undesirable or over-priced. It’s also a way to attract new renters who want to see the latest listings.
Keep in mind that an apartment that’s been on the market for an extended period of time represents an opportunity to negotiate a lower rent or some concessions. Similarly, if you notice an apartment has been listed multiple times with different unit numbers, it’s worth asking for a discount.
Some brokers might also claim that they do this to prevent prospective renters from buzzing the apartment and bothering the current tenant or the landlord, Amanda Hudson, an agent at Dallien Realty told Brick in the past. “But the reality is they want to have a second or brand new listing that doesn’t look stale.”