The Real Deal New York

StreetEasy is building a new agent portal for Douglas Elliman

Designing the back-end system for agents is a first for Zillow Group
By E.B. Solomont | November 08, 2017 03:45PM

From left: Scott Durkin, Howard Lorber and Susan Daimler

StreetEasy — which already dominates the real estate listings marketplace in New York — has upped the ante with a new deal to build a back-end portal for Douglas Elliman.

The residential brokerage tapped the Zillow Group-owned site to design and maintain an agent-facing system that will replace its archaic listings network dubbed Limo, Elliman said Wednesday. The new system, which will debut in 2018, will allow agents to input listings directly into an “Elliman-branded and StreetEasy-powered” portal, said COO Scott Durkin. “No one can deliver listings to agents and customers like StreetEasy,” he said.

Until now, Elliman agents have input and tracked listings via Limo, which will eventually be phased out, Durkin said. Early on, the firm considered overhauling Limo or building a system from scratch, but determined it would cost between $2.5 million and $5 million.

“We’re not a technology company, we sell real estate,” Durkin said. “If anyone thinks they can build [a system] internally and deliver it to agents in a timely manner — without it being obsolete by the time it’s ready — we weren’t prepared to attempt to do so.”

The new system will deliver real-time updates to consumers by automatically syncing agents’ listings with Elliman.com and StreetEasy’s desktop and mobile platforms, the firms said. Agents will also have access to a customer relationship management system as well as StreetEasy’s historical data. Elliman, the biggest residential firm in New York City with 2,000 agents here, first plans to roll out the system in New York before a national rollout in the second and third quarters of 2018.

Designing and maintaining Elliman’s listings feature is a first for a tech company known mostly for aggregating listings data. But it’s a natural progression, said Susan Daimler, StreetEasy’s general manager. “This is what we do. We know data,” she said. “Our north star is always getting the consumer the best, most accurate information possible. This ties into that perfectly.”

Agents will be inputting data themselves, but Daimler said there are built-in quality control measures. For example, if an agent inputs a listing but accidentally enters a unit that doesn’t exist, StreetEasy would identify the error based on the building data it already has, she said.

Elliman and StreetEasy both said the partnership has nothing to do with the Real Estate Board of New York’s new syndicated listings feed, dubbed the RLS, which debuted this summer. Plans for the RLS — a mechanism for residential firms to control their own listings data — were accelerated this spring after StreetEasy introduced a series of new advertising programs and fees for agents. After it went live, some firms stopped automatically feeding listings to StreetEasy in favor of the RLS.  (On Wednesday, The Real Deal announced that it would partner with REBNY on a free property listings platform for brokers.)

StreetEasy has said it will not accept the REBNY RLS, arguing that doing so could compromise the accuracy of listings data.

Daimler on Wednesday reiterated StreetEasy’s stance on the RLS: “We want to get data as close to the source as possible,” she said. “We think that’s a critical component to data integrity and data timeliness.”