New York brokerage bigs band together in MLS fight

The Real Estate Board of New York has struck a deal with the city’s top residential brokerages to establish a syndicated feed of residential listings.

The agreement creates REBNY’s exclusive Residential Listing Service, a centralized feed of residential sales and rental listings across the city.

The new service appears to be a response to Streeteasy’s “Premier Agent” program, a controversial feature that has been criticized for allegedly misleading home buyers.

The RLS service, which requires REBNY member firms to opt-in, already has commitments from BOND New York, Brown Harris Stevens, Citi Habitats, Compass, The Corcoran Group, CORE, Fox Residential Group, Halstead Property, Leslie J. Garfield & Co., Stribling & Associates, TOWN Residential, and Warburg Realty.

REBNY did not mention Streeteasy in its announcement. However, its intention to push back against aggregators is clear.

DIANE RAMIREZ

“This plan for syndication directly addresses a critical challenge facing New York City residential real estate brokers and salespeople,” said Halstead CEO Diane Ramirez, who also serves as co-chair of REBNY’s residential brokerage board of directors.
Streeteasy criticized the agreement, saying that it declined an offer to participate in the program.
“We have had this conversation with REBNY and we clearly stated at that time that we will not be taking a feed from the RLS because we would characterize this as a clear move to restrict our efforts to provide consumers with the most robust real estate marketplace in New York City. We believe in both an open and competitive market, and the current partnerships, proprietary technology and dedicated teams that we have in place that ensure the data on our platforms is the best it can be for agents and consumers,” said Susan Daimler, Streeteasy‘s general manager.

The discontent against Streeteasy crystallized last March. The city’s top brokers, led by Nest Seekers broker and reality TV star Ryan Serhant, criticized Premier Agent, saying that it violates the state’s real estate advertising laws. The feature allows brokers who pay a fee to get first dibs on inquiries in a certain ZIP code. In an Instagram video posted earlier this year, Serhant demonstrated how the feature hurts his business. He called the number on one of his own listings and was rerouted to a Premier Agent broker.

REBNY’s listing service may have a difficult time upending Streeteasy’s gains through Premier Agent. The company has yet to release financial information on the new Streeteasy feature. However, Zillow, the parent company of Streeteasy, reported positive returns for the service shortly after it was launched. It is part of a division that grew by 30 percent in the first quarter.

“The early sales have been excellent,” Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff said during the company’s recent first quarter earnings call. “It’s a great time to be a Premier Agent advertiser in New York on Zillow Group because StreetEasy has added significant lead volume.”

According to REBNY, they have been working on the service for the past 18 months. It has set a target date of August 1 for the RLS launch.

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