The Real Deal New York

Realtor.com claims it has 20% more listings than StreetEasy. But there’s more to the story

Ad campaign is latest attempt to gain marketshare in NYC
By E.B. Solomont | January 24, 2018 07:00AM

Spencer Rascoff and Rupert Murdoch

Realtor.com has a braggadocious message for New Yorkers: It’s got 20 percent more listings than StreetEasy.

The website — owned by a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. — is ramping up a campaign aimed squarely at its chief rival in New York City, where Realtor has been gunning for more market share. The red-and-white ads, first introduced this fall, will now appear throughout the five boroughs, with digital and print messages at bus stops and in subway stations.

“We’re committed to investing in New York City,” said Nate Johnson, chief marketing officer for Move, Inc., which operates Realtor. “We really want to make sure we’re driving this message so we can increase awareness among consumers.”

As of midday on Tuesday, Realtor.com had 18,942 for-sale listings citywide compared to StreetEasy’s 18,031 (5 percent more). If in-contract listings are excluded, Realtor.com has 14,412 listings to StreetEasy’s 11,735 (22.8 percent more). And on the rental front, Realtor.com had 25,626 listings compared to StreetEasy’s 17,367 (47.5 percent more).

But Realtor’s edge can be attributed, in part, to janky listings.

A cursory search of Realtor.com’s for-sale listings in New York City turned up commercial properties, rentals, homes in upstate New York, and even a houseboat. There were also a number of duplicates and listings that had either been sold or rented already. (To be fair, StreetEasy also has a few wonky listings that come up.)

Susan Daimler, StreetEasy’s general manager, declined to comment on Realtor’s numbers. But in a statement, she said StreetEasy “has always been, and will continue to be, focused on the quality of our listings data, not the quantity.”

For its part, Realtor declined to provide specifics on its methodology. But Johnson said the company analyzed listings on both websites in late October and November. Comparative advertising has been a staple of Realtor’s national ad strategy for several years, he added. “What we’re trying to do is share that Realtor.com is an excellent choice,” Johnson said. “In fact, we give you a great advantage.”

On the rental front, StreetEasy’s new $3-per-day fee to post listings could have tipped the scales in Realtor.com’s favor.

In July, when the portal launched the fee (under the auspices of its NYC Rental Network), the number of rental listings on the platform dropped significantly, with some agents opting to withhold their listings. At the time, StreetEasy said it anticipated the dip. By charging agents to post listings, StreetEasy has said the portal will end up with fewer stale or inaccurate listings.

On Tuesday, Daimler again touted the significance of having New York City-specific data. “StreetEasy is built on this unparalleled local knowledge,” she said.

Over the past year, Realtor has sensed an opening in the New York City market, after Zillow ramped up efforts to monetize StreetEasy. In July, the Real Estate Board of New York launched a syndicated listings feed dubbed the RLS. Realtor.com signed on to take the feed in August. (Disclosure: In late 2017, The Real Deal also signed a deal to take the feed.)

So far, StreetEasy hasn’t taken the REBNY feed, saying it gets more accurate data directly from brokers.