The Real Deal New York

Listing non grata: REBNY says StreetEasy is marking available rentals as unavailable

Board said to be looking to file complaint with DOS
By E.B. Solomont | August 08, 2017 01:20PM

An active listing that’s marked unavailable on StreetEasy (Click to enlarge)

Hell hath no fury like a brokerage spurned.

In the latest chapter in the ongoing dispute between the city’s top brokerages and StreetEasy, the Real Estate Board of New York plans to file a complaint with the Department of State, accusing StreetEasy of misleading consumers by marking certain apartments as unavailable, sources said.

At the heart of the matter are three words — “no longer available” — which residential brokers say StreetEasy has posted on properties being marketed by agents who haven’t joined the portal’s $3-per-day-per-listing rental network.

Instead of removing those listings, StreetEasy has marked them “no longer available” even though they’re still active listings. That could lead renters to think those listings are no longer on the market, causing agents to lose business.

“It’s just not available on StreetEasy,” one brokerage source said.

Jamie McShane, a spokesman for REBNY, declined to comment. Representatives for the DOS, which regulates real estate advertising and licensing, declined to comment.

In a statement, StreetEasy’s general manager Susan Daimler said unavailable listings do not appear in search results or email notifications to consumers. Rather, they are “essentially invisible to the consumer unless they saved the URL or they look in the building’s listing history.” Since July 19, a day after the daily fee kicked in, rental listings on StreetEasy have been viewed 12 million times, Daimler said. Just a fraction of those views – less than 1 percent — have pulled up listings designated unavailable, she said.

So far, more than 5,000 agents are opting to pay the $3 fee, StreetEasy said.

In March, REBNY asked state regulators to probe StreetEasy’s Premier Agent program over concerns it violated a rule that prohibits advertising another agent’s exclusive. While REBNY argued it caused a “maelstrom” of consumer confusion, StreetEasy said the allegation was without merit.

REBNY rolled out its own syndicated listings service August 1, and StreetEasy so far refused to accept its feed, even though 10 prominent residential brokerages have said they would exclusively feed their listings through REBNY’s RLS.

The firms are Brown Harris Stevens, Town Residential, Compass, Stribling & Associates, Warburg Realty, Fox Residential, Kleier Residential, Leslie J. Garfield, Bond New York and Tungsten. There may be others.

“It’s not that I want to stop sending to StreetEasy,” said Barbara Fox of Fox Residential. “But I want them to get the right information.”

Douglas Elliman is feeding to both, as is Halstead Property — for now.

But Halstead CEO Diane Ramirez said that once additional aggregators start accepting the RLS — such as Realtor.com, which just inked a deal with REBNY — Halstead is “deliberately positioned to pivot our feed to post solely through the RLS syndication.”

“We have actively monitored and evaluated the changes that StreetEasy has implemented over the last number of months,” Ramirez added. “And while we do not agree with the different directions the site has taken, our commitment, first and foremost, is to our agents and their clients.”