A New Yorker’s Guide to the Brooklyn MLS in NYC

What exactly is the Brooklyn MLS? Is it related to the Real Estate Board of New York? What parts of Brooklyn does it cover? Do I need to list in the Brooklyn MLS or is the REBNY RLS sufficient? How much does it cost to join the Brooklyn MLS? We’ll answer all these questions and more in the following article.

Table of Contents

What Is the Brooklyn MLS?

The Brooklyn MLS is an independent multiple listing service based in the deep southern Brooklyn neighborhood of Gravesend with coverage primarily over the neighborhoods in eastern and southern Brooklyn.

The Brooklyn MLS is not affiliated with its larger New York City cousin, the REBNY RLS headquartered in Midtown Manhattan, nor is it affiliated with the National Association of Relators (NAR) from which it seceded in 2012.

The Brooklyn MLS was a result of a merger in the mid 2000’s between the Mid-County MLS and the South Shore MLS. The Brooklyn MLS later absorbed the Bay Ridge-Bensonhurst MLS in the summer of 2010.

What is the Brooklyn MLS? Should I join as an agent or list my home in the Brooklyn MLS vs the REBNY RLS? Neigbhorhoods covered, fees & co-broking & more.

The Brooklyn MLS has just over 4,000 members as of the start of the new decade, in comparison to over 17,000 members for the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY).

It’s also important to note that unlike most MLS organizations or REBNY, the Brooklyn MLS is a shareholder organization vs a membership organization which we’ll discuss in a later section in this article on fees to join the Brooklyn MLS.

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Is Listing on the Brooklyn MLS Necessary?

It depends on where your property is located and who you ask. For most New York City home sellers, listing on the pre-dominant, de facto NYC Multiple Listing Service, the REBNY RLS, is more than sufficient for most purposes.

However, the Brooklyn MLS does compete with the REBNLY RLS in deep southern neighborhoods of Brooklyn like Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, and some agents will claim that the Brooklyn MLS may even be more popular than the RLS in the deep south of Brooklyn.

The Brooklyn MLS is also reputed to be popular in the deep eastern reaches of the borough, such as Coney Island and East New York.

However, for any Brooklyn home sellers who are in the ritzier, hipper or more gentrified areas of the borough, typically closer to Manhattan, then the REBNY RLS will be the dominant broker database to list on.

For example, much of the “brownstone” Brooklyn neighborhoods you’ll hear about like Boeurum Hill, Clinton Hill, Park Slope, Williamsburg and even Bed-Stuy will be fairly solid REBNY RLS territory.

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How Does Co-Broking Work for the Brooklyn MLS?

Unlike the Real Estate Board of New York, the Brooklyn MLS does not have rules around how much or what proportion of the total commission must be split with buyer’s agents.

Whereas the REBNY RLS requires commissions to be split at least equally in favor of cooperating agents, the Brooklyn MLS does not have a rule requiring that buyer’s agents must be treated at least equally when it comes to real estate listing agents splitting commission.

The Hudson Gateway MLS (HGMLS) operates in the same manner whereby listing agents only must offer something to buyer’s agents, even if it’s $1 in commission.

So how much do Brooklyn MLS listing agents typically co-broke?

From interviews with Brooklyn MLS agents and recent experiences by our partner brokers, it seems splitting the commission equally between the buyer’s agent and the listing agent is nowhere near as standard as it is in REBNY held territory.

One Brooklyn MLS agent told us that it’s extremely common, or almost universal and standard, to co-broke only 1% to buyer’s agents. In fact, that co-broke is frequently lowered to only 0.75% by some Brooklyn MLS firms if the buyer’s agent is not a Brooklyn MLS member.

Sometimes, the reason given for a lower co-broke is because “the buyer’s agent is from Manhattan and wasn’t available to shake my hand,” but in reality we suspect the reason is simply because the listing broker can do whatever he or she pleases.

What about total commission rates in the Brooklyn MLS?

Total commission rates are negotiable between the seller and their listing agent, and as everyone knows, there’s no standard or rule as to what commission rates must be. This is even more true in parts of Brooklyn covered by the Brooklyn MLS where total commission rates are generally lower than that of REBNY controlled territory closer to Manhattan.

Whereas 6% or 5% in total commission is commonplace in Manhattan and other REBNY held territory such as Long Island City and Riverdale, total commission rates can be 3% or lower in deep southern Brooklyn.

One Brooklyn MLS agent we interviewed complained that southern Brooklyn is the “horrible, wild, wild west” of NYC real estate, where home owners are spoiled and don’t want to pay a lot in commission, and can get away with it due to the lower density and price point.

What Are Brooklyn MLS Fees for Agents?

Brooklyn MLS fees have been historically daunting and prohibitively expensive for new agents to join. Because the Brooklyn MLS is a shareholder organization, all initiates must invest in the organization and buy $20,000 worth of stock, plus member fees, in order to join.

If a broker member decides to quit the Brooklyn MLS, he or she is allowed to sell his or her stock on the open market for whatever someone will pay for it.

However, as a result of a desire to boost membership and a new advertising push at the end of last decade, the Brooklyn MLS has finally allowed members to join without having to buy stock.

This desire was likely also influenced by the announcement of the merger between the HGMLS and the MLSLI (Long Island MLS) to create the One Key MLS, which will be a super-sized MLS covering everywhere from the Greater Hudson Valley to all of Long Island.

This new class of so called “subsidiary brokers” won’t have voting rights and will have higher annual dues than full voting members.

Subsidiary Broker Dues:

  • $750 initiation fee

  • $1,500 in annual member dues

  • $395 per year per agent associated with the broker

  • No requirement to buy stock to join

Full Member Dues:

  • $360 in annual member dues

  • $180 per year per agent associated with the broker

  • $20,000 purchase of Brooklyn MLS stock to join

As an interesting side note, because of the traditionally prohibitive cost of joining the Brooklyn MLS, and the resistance to having to pay for two sets of dues, the larger NYC brokerages have for the most part not joined the Brooklyn MLS.

One notable exception seems to be Douglass Elliman, though it’s reported by the Real Deal that they may be re-negotiating due to Brooklyn MLS demanding all of Elliman’s Brooklyn based offices to join the Brooklyn MLS.

Disclosure: Hauseit® and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal, financial or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal, financial or accounting advice. No representation, guarantee or warranty of any kind is made regarding the completeness or accuracy of information provided. Hauseit LLC is a Licensed Real Estate Broker, licensed to do business in New York under license number 10991232340. Principal Office: 148 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10013.

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