One of StreetEasy’s most outspoken critics is taking on Zillow with a new rental platform in New York City.
Phil Horigan, who launched Leasebreak.com in 2013, is rolling out a “comprehensive” and free rental marketplace at frēlē.com, he said. Horigan is not pulling the plug on Leasebreak — a popular website that connects tenants looking for renters to take over their lease — but frēlē will target a broader swath of the market.
The former Corcoran Group agent said he decided to launch the site as a matter of principle after StreetEasy began charging agents $3 a day to post listings last year. “I don’t fault any broker for putting a listing on StreetEasy,” he said. But, he added, that doesn’t mean they should have to.
“Can David take on the Goliath?” he asked. “I think so.”
Currently, Leasebreak has more than 8,000 listings on its website — including many that are generated by tenants looking for a renter to take over their lease. Frēlē will have those listings and thousands more by accepting the syndicated listings feed from the Real Estate Board of New York. The short-term leases available on both of Horigan’s sites will be a “differentiator” for frēlē in an increasingly-competitive rental market.
Since REBNY launched its syndicated RLS feed last summer, a slew of companies have rushed into the space, including Realtor.com, which is upping its game in New York City. Analytics site Urbandigs.com recently became a portal, and The Real Deal is also launching a portal.
StreetEasy, which has declined to take REBNY’s feed, declined to comment for this article.
“The RLS has definitely leveled the playing field,” said Horigan, who pointed out that it took StreetEasy several years to convince the city’s residential firms to share their listings. “Now the RLS is allowing you to just plug into the listings. The barrier to entry just dropped to zero.”
Like Leasebreak, frēlē will have a freemium model. It will be free to post and search for listings, but agents and renters can pay for extras. For example, agents can buy renter leads for $15 each. Agents can also buy leads to tenants who want help marketing their apartments. Listing leads will cost between $10 and $20 a piece, based on the duration of the lease, neighborhood and rent.
In a blog post Tuesday, Horigan laid out a four-point pledge to users, including a promise to remain free and to never sell the website to Zillow.