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Real estate brokers defy their firms’ boycott of StreetEasy

Opposition from REBNY and several brokerage firms have failed to stunt the growth of StreetEasy’s paid listings service.

During his firm’s latest earnings call, Zillow Group CEO Spencer Rascoff said that more than 10,000 New York City agents have paid to advertise rental listings on StreetEasy during the third quarter.

“New Yorkers love the StreetEasy brand,” Rascoff said. “Agents will always want their listings displayed where the largest audience goes for their home search needs, and in New York, that’s StreetEasy.”

The service, called the NYC Rental Network, distributes listings to StreetEasy and related outlets such as Zillow, Trulia and Hotpads. Launched only last quarter, the program charges brokers $3 per day for each listing. It was initially met with opposition from several large brokerages.

Four of the city’s biggest firms – Compass, Stribling, Brown Harris Stevens and Town – announced that they would no longer advertise on StreetEasy.

Last August, the Real Board of New York launched a competing listings syndication platform, the Residential Listings Service. The defectors fed their listings to the RLS service. RLS has since made modest gains. Last September, the New York Times announced that it would take REBNY’s syndicated feed.

The immediate fallout was drastic. According to a report from DNAInfo, the number of rental listings on Streeteasy dropped by more than 50 percent within the first 24 hours of the program. However, about four months after the fee was implemented, StreetEasy appears to have fully recovered, and it is welcoming back defectors with ease. According to the firm, a total of nine brokerages stopped updating their StreetEasy feed. These include Brown Harris Stevens, Town Residential, Compass, Stribling & Associates, Warburg Realty, Fox Residential, Kleier Residential, Leslie J. Garfield and Tungsten.

StreetEasy allowed individual agents at those firms to manually update their listings. This essentially blunted the broker revolt. According to StreetEasy, 100 percent of the rental listings neglected by brokerages have been manually updated by agents. Meanwhile, as of the end of September, 80 percent of sales listings have been updated by individual agents. Sales and rental brokers in the nine brokerages also created around 1,000 new listings.

Rascoff attributed the growth of the paid platform to StreetEasy’s reach in New York City. During the third quarter, Streeteasy’s rental listings generated 14 million visits. Sales listings, meanwhile, generated 13 million visits.

StreetEasy also posted gains with its Premier Agent service, the controversial feature that connected homebuyers with agents who buy ads on the for-sale listings. Premier Agent registered revenue growth of 24 percent during the quarter, driven by the performance of the newly-launched New York City segment.

“In our New York City marketplace, the rollout of Premier Agent on StreetEasy and paid inclusion for the NYC rentals network have exceeded our expectations,” Rascoff said.

However, evidence of StreetEasy’s gains in countering dissent goes beyond revenue growth and visits.

Last week, the firm announced a partnership with Douglas Elliman to develop a listing platform. The new service, which will cover Douglas Elliman’s sales and rental listings, is expected to be released next year.

This continues favorable relations between the two companies. Douglas Elliman earlier allowed agents use their marketing budgets to pay for StreetEasy fees, according to a previous report from The Real Deal.

StreetEasy also recently agreed to a deal with Realogy, which owns the Corcoran Group, Sotheby’s and Citi Habitats.

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