New York City agents will soon be able to opt out of StreetEasy’s controversial Premier Agent program — to the tune of $333 per listing per month.
The Zillow-owned portal informed brokerage heads on Tuesday that it plans to introduce a new initiative, dubbed Agent Spotlight, through which agents can pay to post sales listings, sources said. Those listings will only feature the listing agent’s name and photo, and will not display contact information for a Premier Agent — or an agent who pays StreetEasy to purchase buyer leads.
But the program — which will debut Feb. 12 — is available only to agents who manually enter listings.
In conjunction with Agent Spotlight, StreetEasy said it plans to roll out a back-end listing platform for brokerage firms — much like the one it was hired to build for Douglas Elliman in late 2017.
StreetEasy is now offering that same platform — which it is calling “Listing Tools” — to all New York brokerage firms. There will be a free and a premium model, the company said. The premium version is customized to the brokerage firm, and integrates with their marketing platforms, so pricing will vary. For firms that do not switch to either version of the new platform, listings will continue to display the listing agent along with a Premier Agent’s name and contact information.
In a statement, StreetEasy said the Listing Tools platform caters to a growing number of agents who manually enter listings anyway. The company estimated that more than 50 percent of listings are input by agents.
“We spent the last year focused on better understanding the challenges local agents faced,” StreetEasy general manager Matt Daimler said in a statement. “As a result, we built something that marries the importance of data accuracy with convenience.”
But sources noted the new system clearly incentivizes agents to input listings directly, thereby bypassing their firm.
Many of the city’s top firms — including the Corcoran Group, Douglas Elliman and Compass — automatically feed listings to StreetEasy via their own back-end systems. In the coming days, those firms will need to decide whether to continue those feeds, or switch to Listing Tools to allow agents the option of participating in Spotlight.
On Tuesday night, Compass was the first to cast its lot.
“We don’t encourage a world where people have to pay to be on their listings,” Rory Golod, the firm’s general manager of New York, said in a statement.
As of Tuesday evening, StreetEasy had 14,248 active sales listings and 15,118 active rental listings. Under Agent Spotlight, agents would pay $333 per listing for the first three months of a listing’s shelf life; after that, there would be no additional fee (and no Premier Agent display).
“It’s not even affordable for the companies,” said another brokerage head, calculating that an agent with 50 listings would be forking over $16,650 per month.
Premier Agent has been a cash cow for Zillow, accounting for 76 percent of its $1 billion in revenue in 2017. But the program has been sharply criticized by New York brokers, who resented the portal’s interference in their business.
At the time, many predicted sales listings would be next.
“There are a lot of agents right now that are going to take listings off of StreetEasy,” said the Corcoran Group’s Brian Meier, who said he was expecting the portal to announce a fee for sales listings for more than a year.
At the same time, Meier conceded, removing Premier Agents from the equation would be a good thing, he said. “I’m getting brokers not experienced in the area giving misinformation.”