Papa don’t preach: StreetEasy breaks with Zillow by encouraging agents to post listings

Since May 1, Zillow’s only accepted MLS and company feeds

Aug.August 09, 2017 05:15 PM

The apple’s trying to fall far from the tree.

In an effort to retain its market dominance in New York City, StreetEasy is breaking with its parent company Zillow by allowing individual agents to manually update listings.

After 10 residential brokerages said they would syndicate listings exclusively through the Real Estate Board of New York, StreetEasy is trying to woo back agents by allowing them to update listings on their own. But that’s the opposite of a policy Zillow just adopted that prohibits agents from manually updating listings.

Zillow’s new rule, which took effect May 1, is an attempt to “get higher quality data and get rid of errors and potential fraud in manual posts,” Jay Thompson, Zillow’s director of industry outreach, wrote in a Facebook post this spring. “The industry and consumers have been asking/demanding that we clean up our data for years — we are responding to those demands,” he added, according to Inman News.

In New York, StreetEasy is going the other way. It won’t accept REBNY’s residential listing service (RLS), and it urged agents last week to act independently of renegade firms by updating listings themselves. The company explained its decision by saying that unlike with MLS systems nationwide, in which agents directly input listings, the RLS takes data from firms, which get listings data from agents. The RLS’ extra layer can compromise accuracy, StreetEasy said.

“Our top priority is listing quality and our goal is to get listing data as close to the original source as possible,” Susan Daimler , general manager at StreetEasy, said in a statement. “Around the nation, Zillow Group has relationships with MLSs because they are the most often first point of listing entry. REBNY’s RLS has no point of direct entry, instead the listings are first entered either directly at the brokerage or through one of a handful of third parties.”

So far, agents at Brown Harris Stevens, Town Residential, Compass and Stribling & Associates — the first four firms to stop feeding listings to StreetEasy — have manually updated 62 percent of rental listings from those feeds, StreetEasy said. Agents have also updated 31 percent of sales listings. And collectively, they’ve added 121 new rental listings and 26 new sales listings.

“We continue to be surprised that brokerages are choosing not to advertise their sellers’ listings to the largest real estate audience in NYC even though it is free, but we’re thrilled that individual agents understand the reach of our platforms,” Daimler said. StreetEasy’s rental listings get 25 million views a month, according to Daimler, while sales listings get 20 million views a month.

Since July 18, over 5,000 rental agents have joined StreetEasy’s rental network, which imposes a $3 daily fee per listing.

Immediately after launching the program, StreetEasy saw its rental listings drop around 55 percent from just under 31,000 on July 17 to just under 14,000 on July 19. On Wednesday, the site had 17,700 rental listings.

StreetEasy touted some of those numbers in an email sent Wednesday to agents whose firms stopped feeding listings to the site. “Because your firm has stopped sending a feed of sale and rental listings to these platforms, you are missing out on the largest audience of NYC renters, buyers and real estate professionals,” the email stated.

The dispute is escalating on both ends. On Tuesday, The Real Deal reported that REBNY plans to file a complaint with the state’s Department of State, alleging that StreetEasy has been marking available listings as “no longer available” if the agent hasn’t opted to pay the site’s $3 fee.

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