REBNY returns fire in StreetEasy battle, cites “maelstrom of consumer confusion”

Industry lobbying group maintains that controversial “premier agent” program may be illegal

New York /
Mar.March 20, 2017 08:30 AM

The Real Estate Board of New York penned a second letter to the Department of State regarding StreetEasy’s controversial new “premier agent” program, stressing that the initiative had resulted in “a maelstrom of consumer confusion.”

In the new letter, which was reviewed by The Real Deal, REBNY cites multiple instances where a consumer was allegedly misguided by the feature, which by default directs buyers to agents who pay to advertise on the site rather than to the exclusive listing agent.

In one such instance cited by REBNY, a broker who tried to contact the listing agent for a property in New York was allegedly directed to an agent in Ohio, who said she had bought the leads and was referring them to two or three New York agents for a slice of the commission. Other times, consumers have shown up with their own brokers to a listing, only to be “accosted” by a premier agent claiming to represent them, the trade group said.

Earlier this month, REBNY asked regulators to examine the program, claiming it violated a rule that prohibits advertising a property that’s subject to an exclusive with another firm. StreetEasy later challenged that notion in a response to the DOS, saying it was perfectly legal.

“Zillow neglects to address the consumer confusion caused by the new program,” REBNY’s attorney, Claude Szyfer, said in the new letter, dated March 17.

“Zillow claims that a listing agent ‘controls’ their advertising, and that if the listing agent has an issue, they are free to take down the listing,” he continued. “Zillow’s argument misses the point. The point is not for the brokers to shun StreetEasy, but to simply have the Premier Agent advertising program comply with well-established New York law.”

REBNY, which maintains the program may be illegal, also shot down StreetEasy’s prior claims that REBNY’s objections to the program were anti-competitive and bias towards listing agents.

“REBNY does not promote one side of the brokerage market over the other – which StreetEasy is apparently doing,” Szyfer wrote.

In an interview with TRD, REBNY President John Banks said “there is deep concern about how StreetEasy is conducting this program.”

“All we’ve asked for is an opinion,” he said. “That’s not anti-competitive, that’s good due diligence.”

Meanwhile, StreetEasy is showing some signs of being flexible with how the program is designed. In an email to New York agents last week, the firm’s general manager, Susan Daimler, said the company will try out new iterations of the agent contact box on listing pages.

Some of the city’s largest brokerages, including Corcoran Group, Citi Habitats and Town Residential, have said they will not support the program.


Related Articles

arrow_forward_ios
John Catsimatidis and 670 Pacific Street (Getty, StreetEasy)
John Catsimatidis clocks win for landlords in 421a suit; tenants vow to appeal
John Catsimatidis clocks win for landlords in 421a suit; tenants vow to appeal
Robert Herjavec and One57 (Getty, Beyond My Ken/Wikimedia)
Robert Herjavec buys One57 condo at $13M discount
Robert Herjavec buys One57 condo at $13M discount
Realtors no longer heart “love letters” to sellers
Realtors no longer ♡ “love letters” to sellers
Realtors no longer ♡ “love letters” to sellers
1 Swan Landing
5 Gatsby-esque homes fit for the Roaring 2020s
5 Gatsby-esque homes fit for the Roaring 2020s
Home sales rise in June, snapping four-month downward streak
Home sales rise in June, snapping four-month downward streak
Home sales rise in June, snapping four-month downward streak
Housing investors took advantage of a hot market, collectively purchasing the group’s most homes in a quarter since 2000. (iStock)
Housing investors went on spending spree in second quarter
Housing investors went on spending spree in second quarter
Sundae co-founders Josh Stech and Andrew Swain (Sundae via LinkedIn)
Distressed-property startup Sundae raises $80M in Series C round
Distressed-property startup Sundae raises $80M in Series C round
M&T Bank reports late-stage delinquent loans more than doubled in past year
M&T Bank reports late-stage delinquent loans more than doubled in past year
M&T Bank reports late-stage delinquent loans more than doubled in past year
arrow_forward_ios

The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

Loading...