Real Estate Weekly
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Featured Opinion

REBNY optimistic about city’s way forward

By John Banks,
REBNY president

Last year was a another successful one for New York City, which continues to enjoy a booming economy, record job growth and unemployment rates at historic lows.

The NYPD announced the City is on pace to have another record-setting year for lower crime.
Our population continues to grow on schedule to reach nine million by 2040.

JOHN BANKS

This success is attracting the country’s leading entrepreneurs and technological innovators.

The year concluded with news of Amazon’s decision to develop its HQ2 in Long Island City. The move is expected to create tens of thousands of good jobs and validates New York City as a global center for tech innovation.

Amazon’s selection of a borough outside of Manhattan marks a major milestone in the long-term City and State economic development strategy to diversify our economy throughout the five boroughs.

REBNY is a strong supporter of the project and all that it means for our future. Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio deserve credit for their leadership in securing this significant achievement.

Generating billions in annual tax revenue that funds vital city services, New York City’s real estate industry remains the engine behind New York’s economy.

As the Real Estate Board of New York celebrates its 123rd year, we are proud to report that REBNY is just as vibrant as the City itself.

We look forward to the upcoming legislative session in Albany, where we will work with Governor Cuomo and the new State Legislature. As the state’s rent regulations are scheduled to expire in June, REBNY will advance policies to ensure investment in our housing stock, job growth, and the creation of much needed housing, particularly affordable rental units.

At the local level, New York City’s elected officials continued to support policies that will help the City to address its need for more good jobs and affordable housing to meet the enormous demand of our growing population.

The Mayor and City Council put in place several crucial zoning changes last year, in the process generating thousands of new units of affordable housing and driving economic investment in areas like Manhattan’s Garment District, Inwood, and Jerome Avenue in the Bronx. A special rezoning in Union Square will help make that area of Manhattan a vibrant tech center as well.

In 2018, REBNY advanced various initiatives to meet the changing needs of our industry.

REBNY’s Residential Listing Service (RLS) celebrated the one-year anniversary of Syndication. The launch of RLS Syndication has empowered REBNY brokers and salespersons to send residential listings via the RLS to a growing network of local, national, and international consumer websites, and has ensured the accuracy of listings by centralizing listing data through a single feed.

The success of this effort is demonstrated by the participation of 600 residential brokerage firms, and 98 percent of them have adopted Syndication. The RLS also developed and launched a new compliance tool, which is a critical milestone in our commitment to clean and accurate residential listing data.

Driven by the demand for real estate technology innovation, we hosted a global competition called the PropTech Challenge that tapped into the entrepreneurial spirit of the tech community and put forth innovative ideas for solving complex challenges faced by our industry.

The deep engagement and participation of our members is what makes REBNY such a dynamic organization. Over the past year, attendance at REBNY Residential Brokerage events increased by 61 percent and the number of programs delivered increased by 28 perecent. Attendance at Commercial Brokerage events jumped 10 percent and the number of programs increased by 21 percent.

Nearly 7,500 professionals attended in-person and online courses to acquire or renew their license and gain new skills. A wide range of over 75 New York State approved Continuing Education Courses were taught by certified instructors. Enrollment in REBNY online courses jumped by 71 percent and in-person education courses is up 37 percent from last year.

In October, more than one hundred REBNY members participated in a public hearing at the New York City Council.

REBNY members wearing blue hats in solidarity at a City Council hearing on commercial rent control.

The Manhattan Borough President’s Office and the Bronx Borough President’s Office held information sessions with REBNY members interested in joining a community board. These sessions helped members learn about community boards and their role in city government.

In 2019, we will continue to educate and organize members interested in getting involved on the front lines of municipal government and playing a role in future public policy debates.
New York City’s real estate has been integral to the City’s history and growth. That is why REBNY donated its extensive records — kept since our founding in 1896 and including data like property transfers, mortgage details, and zoning alterations on every building in Manhattan — to LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City, Queens.

Preserving these records will foster historical inquiry, inform public policy, and cultivate public awareness of our industry and its role in shaping New York City’s iconic skyline.

REBNY formed a new working group that began meeting and setting goals to increase diversity and inclusion in the industry. In 2019, we look forward to advancing efforts to retain and promote women, people of color, and others from diverse backgrounds in the real estate industry.

REBNY’s outlook for the City’s future is an optimistic one, as our industry helps to guide the City forward with advocacy to advance sensible urban planning, responsible development, and environmental sustainability to keep New York the greatest city in the world.

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