NY Times' 'Improved' Online Real Estate Listings Don't Work

And It's All Your Fault

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There was a time when I could go to the real estate section of The New York Times and quickly set up a search of select neighborhoods throughout New York. But, like many companies, the Times couldn't leave well enough alone. Perhaps goaded by the cranky real estate brokers working for deluded clients unwilling to face the new reality of the housing market, the Times "improved" its site. And by improved, I mean they spiffed up the graphics but otherwise added three or four unnecessary extra steps and now the search-by-neighborhood function is nearly impossible to work.

Using my usually subdued and rational manner, I posted a gripe on the forum of popular Brooklyn real-estate blog Brownstoner to see if I was the only one (that's me, RaginCajun). Hardly. Not only did the site moderator bump the forum post to the front page, the commenters chimed in. My favorite, though, was from the one Brownstoner reader who actually got a response from the Times, which explained to him -- in 350 words -- that it was the browser's fault and that he needed to clear his cache and perhaps read some help instructions or call his ISP. Customer service!

A month or so ago, I found the site easy to use and navigate. I checked it every day and had an RSS feed linked to one search (which went dead without notice when they relaunched). Neither Explorer nor Firefox nor Safari had problems with the cache. But now, it's so frustrating that it's become completely useless to me. And readers are being told to ditch their cache as a solution? Sorry, but I'm not going to wipe out my entire cache just to get the Times real estate site to work. It's obviously one area where the Times makes pretty decent money and, true, the readers don't pay anything for it, but I wonder if its advertisers -- both the brokers and, in particular, the private property owners who don't have big budgets or other outlets with this scale -- are aware that potential buyers are just giving up.