They say follow the rule of three, but here we go with the top four websites you need to research property in New York City: 1) DoITT’s NYCity Map, 2) 80s NYC, 3) Who Owns What in NYC?, and 4) OASIS. We’ll test each website using the address 137 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn 11211.
DoITT’s NYCity Map
Everyone has their favorite property resource, but if there were a crown to give, the NYCity Map, aka the “DoITT map”, would be a strong contender for corenation. The DoITT Map’s simplicity is its premier feature. Yet in its simplicity, the map retains an impressive ability to branch out to numerous resources such as HPD data (such as building violations), DOB data (permits filed, stop work orders), ACRIS data (property ownership data), and tax map data (block and lot mergers, zoning data). And the clickable street map makes finding and navigating the loads of New York City property data much more manageable. One of our favorite features is the 1924 aerial view, which helps give a full history of the property and community. There are no shortage of surprises out there!
80s NYC is another important website for learning the history of New York City property. The website helps answers the question, what did my building look like in the 1980s? What did the street look like? Did the prior owners really add that dormer after 1990? Essentially, the website is a Google Street View, except with each picture taken in the early to mid 1980s. The site doesn’t provide much more data other than the building’s block and lot number, however, historical perspective on property can be invaluable. And you can individually right click and download the photo unique to each structure. Here’s 137 Bedford Ave circa 1985 to the right!
Who Owns What in NYC?
Who Owns What is a data tool created by JustFix.NYC. And who are they? “JustFix.nyc is a 501(c)3 non-profit that builds data-driven tools for tenants and organizers fighting displacement in New York. Our goal is safe and healthy homes for all.” OK, so you know they are awesome!
But what does this website do? It provides similar data to the DoITT map, but unlike the DoITT map, it provides information on the Limited Liability Company that owns a building. In other words, many buildings in New York are owned by companies or corporations, and learning the identities of the people behind these legal entities is daunting to many. But Who Owns What declutters the process and brings comprehensive information on the building’s owner, their personal identities, and the extent of their real estate portfolio. We picked 137 Bedford Ave. randomly, yet the people behind the LLC that owns 137 Bedford Ave. are also associated with 147 other properties!
Other great features include the number of rent stabilized units, the change in the building’s number of rent stabilized units over time, and exportable data. It’s not a holy grail, mind you, there are some data deserts for several addresses we tried. Despite the occasional shortfall, this website belongs in everyone’s toolkit.
Before the other maps came along, OASIS (Open Accessible Space Information System) was the go to resource for New York property data. OASIS is still the “it” website for environmental and land use data, I suppose. One of the really cool features is the visual zoning overlay, coupled with the historical slider. That gives you the power to see how zoning information has progressed from 2003 to 2016. That’s enough time to see how a community like Williamsburg was rezoned from industrial to residential, and maybe a glimpse into the future if you run the slider back and forth really fast!
OASIS has tons of other resources, such as the location of public pools, bike trails, parks, wifi, public libraries, playgrounds, environmental sites, toxic waste sites, food systems, and there’s so much more!
Remember, these websites are just the start, and using the best features and resources from each website helps draw the best conclusions into property research.