The Real Deal New York

Deadline day: Corcoran, Citi Habitats say they’ve cut StreetEasy rentals off – here’s what the others are doing

BHS, Town won't follow Elliman's lead; agents must cover their own costs
By Miriam Hall | July 18, 2017 06:01PM

From left: Pam Liebman, Howard Lorber and Andrew Barrocas (Credit: Getty Images)

UPDATED, 10:34 a.m., July 19: When StreetEasy’s controversial paid rental program went live today, two of the city’s biggest brokerages made good on their promise to not play ball.

“Corcoran, as a firm, stopped sending its feed to StreetEasy at midnight … however, we have set it up so agents who choose to sign up on their own have the ability to send their listing,” said Pamela Liebman, the president and chief executive officer of the Corcoran Group. “We’ve done the same thing at Citi Habitats.”

An insider at StreetEasy, however, disputed this claim, saying that the platform was still getting the feeds from both firms. Corcoran will continue to provide sales listings.

Last month, the Zillow-owned company announced that on July 18, it would begin charging residential agents $3 per day for each rental listing advertised on its platform. It was a move that would allow StreetEasy to quickly add revenue to Zillow’s coffers while capitalizing on the adversarial nature of the New York brokerage community, which has struggled for years to get a multiple listings service off the ground through the Real Estate Board of New York.

In a statement Tuesday, a spokesperson for StreetEasy said: “We anticipated that many agents would sign up after the deadline, once they realized their listings were no longer on StreetEasy, and today we’re seeing agents opting in by the minute. In addition, stale inventory is getting weeded out. We’re excited about what this means for renters in New York City, who now have access to a database of legitimate, active and accurate NYC inventory.”

StreetEasy’s efforts to monetize the thousands of rental listings on its portal were given a big boost when Douglas Elliman said last week that it would allow agents to use their ad budgets to pay the daily fee starting Aug. 1.

“I wasn’t happy — I think that it’s not a good move,” Liebman said of StreetEasy’s plan to monetize rental listings.

“I think we’ve been partners and friends with StreetEasy for many years,” she added, saying that the platform “is biting the hand that feeds them. And I don’t like it.”

As of Tuesday, less than 7 percent of Corcoran’s rental listings are on the site, according to Liebman. Citi Habitats, a major player in the rental market that is also owned by Corcoran parent NRT, now has just around 20 percent of its listings on StreetEasy. Its share of listings on StreetEasy is higher than Corcoran’s, Liebman said, in part because Citi Habitats represents a number of landlords, who aren’t charged fees by StreetEasy.

Brown Harris Stevens and Town Residential said Tuesday that any agents who chose to display their listings on StreetEasy would have to pay the fee out-of-pocket. Compass will take the same approach.

Bess Freedman, executive vice president of BHS, said the brokerage is turning its attention to the plan to syndicate listings through REBNY’s Residential Listing Service starting Aug. 1.  StreetEasy has stated, however, it will not take the feed from REBNY.

Some firms are getting in bed with StreetEasy – at least temporarily and to some extent.

Stribling said it will reimburse agents for the full amount of their rental listings on StreetEasy until syndication begins with the REBNY RLS feed.

Zach Ehrlich, CEO of Mdrn., said the firm would cover the agents’ first 30 days of rental listings on StreetEasy.

Bond New York’s co-founder Bruno Ricciotti said the firm plans to “share the increased expenses with our agents” and is monitoring ROIs.

“If we feel the marketing is worth it, we pay it,” added Mirador Real Estate’s Karla Saladino. “If our agents opt out of StreetEasy… I don’t want it to be because of the $3 a day fee.”

Warburg Realty’s Frederick Peters refused to comment, other than to say the company would be routing its listings exclusively through the RLS portal when it’s up and running.

Andrew Barrocas of MNS said that keeping their listings on StreetEasy was a “no brainer,” and that they will cover the cost of every agent’s exclusive listing. “We are all in,” he said. “It is a significant cost… for now, we will continue to support it.”