REBNY approves dues increase to invest in RLS

$1M infusion will allow system to feed listings to third parties like Zillow, Trulia and StreetEasy

Nov.November 18, 2016 12:30 PM

UPDATED, 3:22 p.m., Nov. 18: The Real Estate Board of New York and its members are opening their wallets to pump more than $1 million into the trade group’s patchy multiple listings system, which leaders said by next year will finally be integrated with third-party websites like StreetEasy, Zillow and Trulia.

The group’s Residential Brokerage Board of Directors voted unanimously Wednesday to fund a $1 million investment into the Residential Listing System – or RLS as it’s commonly known – with a dues increase for more than 14,000 residential brokers and agents in the city.

The directors agreed an increase of $150 each year for principal brokers, whose base dues are $1,500 a year, $100 each year on brokers and salespersons and $75 for first-year sales representatives, whose baseline payment is $250 a year.

A REBNY spokesperson said the new dues are expected to generate $1.3 million in the first year, with $1 million conservatively budgeted for the RLS project. If and when a surplus emerges, REBNY will update the membership, the spokesperson said.

Warburg Realty TRData LogoTINY CEO Frederick Peters said it had become clear that the RLS needed a cash infusion in order to stay relevant.

“Given the resources available, it’s been able to function pretty well,” Peters told The Real Deal. “But it’s become increasingly clear that ‘pretty well’ isn’t good enough.”

REBNY will also contribute $250,000 each year out of its budget toward the upgrade and operation of the system.

The RLS has had its starts and stops. REBNY debuted the system in late 2013 after months of delays from coordinating the five vendors that feed into the network.

The RLS acts like a hub, fed information by independent vendor systems such as OLR and Real Plus and proprietary systems built by brokerages such as Douglas Elliman (Limo) and the Corcoran Group (Taxi).

But for the longest time, brokers – after inputting listings info into their systems – would then have to take the extra step to send listings to consumer-facing sites like StreetEasy and Zillow. Not only is the process cumbersome, but it creates problem with inconsistent data that often doesn’t adhere to REBNY’s guidelines and co-brokerage agreement.

“In most major U.S. real estate marketplaces, all the third-party websites receive just one feed from their local Multiple Listing System (MLS),” RLS co-chairs Diane Ramirez and Michael Bisordi wrote in a letter announcing the new investment to members. “[This assures] that information seen by consumers and brokers is consistent and accurate, and that brokers and the public have simultaneous access to listings.

“The new RLS budget will allow the RLS to … cut down enormously on the number of content-related issues on consumer-facing websites, and allow for greater control and ownership of our data.”

The co-chairs said that, even with the increases, REBNY members pay less in dues compared to their counterparts in comparable markets such as Los Angeles, Miami and Chicago.

In the coming months, REBNY plans to hold seminars with agents and brokers to familiarize them with the changes as the organization acquires software and makes new hires.

This story was updated to include information on how the increased dues will be allocated to the RLS project’s budget.

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