On Monday, Sandy Mattingly, one of the finest and most honest broker-bloggers the New York City real estate industry has produced to date, posted an entry about a loft at 135 Watts Street (right) on his site, Manhattan Loft Guy. He probably spoke at length about the reasons why the unit, in a landmarked Tribeca building, was recently pricechopped by over $300,000, a piece of information available to anyone who knows how to search StreetEasy. We say "probably," because Mattingly suddenly removed the content of the post. Here's what it looks like now. In a later post, he explains why:
The short story is that an agent who believes that a post of mine that put in context a specific listing (comparing it to other sales or non-sales in the same building) "cost them a deal", which led to some conversations between that firm's Chief Operating Officer and mine, including reference to language in the uniform co-brokerage agreement that REBNY members all sign that arguably prohibits any REBNY agent from saying anything in public about anyone else's listing. I don't know the facts about any connection between my blog post and the buyer's decision, but it is not hard to see that a seller, an agent and a listing firm would be pretty upset about a lost deal. I read my ethical obligations as permitting me to comment so long as I didn't do such bad things as be misleading or to denigrate the listing or the competing agent. Hence, I have tried in all my comments to be factual -- critical in the sense of analytical rather than in the sense of negative, while making connections between various strands of data. (Whether I have ever crossed the line in making a snarky comment or not, it has always been my intention to be critical-not-negative.) If that sounds sanctimonious to you, so be it -- but it is accurate. I had checked the REBNY Code of Ethics way back when because I wanted to do things right, knowing that making any comments was both unconventional (at least within the industry) and potentially controversial. Indeed, I tried to find all the limitations that could apply to my blogging, but did not come across the REBNY co-brokerage agreement until now.
So, because "burning bridges is not a business plan," and because the Real Estate Board of New York would rather its members never ever utter a word in public about that which they deal with all day, it looks like things will be changing over on Manhattan Loft Guy. And for this, we are sad.
· Manhattan Loft Guy [MLG]