Terra sells part of RealPlus stake to Corcoran and Elliman

Ownership of the listings company is now split between Terra, Corcoran, Elliman and RealPlus founder, Eric Gordon

Oct.October 15, 2019 01:24 PM
From left: RealPlus' Eric Gordon, Corcoran's Pam Liebman, Halstead's Diane Ramirez, Douglas Elliman's Howard Lorber and Brown Harris Stevens' Bess Freedman (Credit: Eric Gordon by Emily Assiran, Getty Images, Halstead, BHS, iStock)

From left: RealPlus’ Eric Gordon, Corcoran’s Pam Liebman, Halstead’s Diane Ramirez, Douglas Elliman’s Howard Lorber and Brown Harris Stevens’ Bess Freedman (Credit: Eric Gordon by Emily Assiran, Getty Images, Halstead, BHS, iStock)

Four of the city’s top residential firms are teaming up on a shared listing system amid the industry’s long-running feud with StreetEasy.

In a deal that was months in the making, the Corcoran Group and Douglas Elliman agreed to buy a partial stake in RealPlus from Terra Holdings, sources told The Real Deal. Terra, the parent of Brown Harris Stevens and Halstead, has owned 50 percent of the listings company since 2001.

RealPlus founder Eric Gordon said the four brokerages will now use a shared listing platform called reSOURCE, which his firm started developing three years ago in consultation with BHS and Halstead. The company’s remaining clients will use a different application, All Access NYC, which is essentially the same as reSOURCE, save for a few tailored features that are included for the major firms.

Gordon declined to comment on the sale of Terra’s stake to Corcoran and Elliman, and the company’s new ownership structure. Elliman and BHS also declined to comment, while representatives for Halstead and Corcoran weren’t immediately available.

According to a statement, the new system, “offers real-time property, market trend and neighborhood data to agents assisting clients with the buying, selling and renting of homes throughout New York City.”

As a group, Corcoran, Elliman, BHS and Halstead are responsible for almost 55 percent of listings on the market, according to industry sources.

For years, the four brokerage firms have maintained proprietary listing systems. In a city without a centralized listings system, StreetEasy has filled that void. But for the past two years, firms have been at odds with the Zillow-owned portal over new fees.

The deal appears to mark the end of Elliman’s ill-fated partnership with StreetEasy. In 2017, the firm said it hired the Zillow-owned portal to build a back-end listing system to replace Limo. But Elliman never adopted the system, and in February StreetEasy launched a listing system for agents called “Listing Tools” that was based on its work for Elliman.  (Listing Tools promotes manual entry of listings, and allows agents to pay a fee to avoid Premier Agent.)

For RealPlus, having some of the city’s biggest brokerages sign onto its new system is a significant boost. Amid mounting competition, it has lost a host of major clients — including Stribling & Associates and Sotheby’s — to competitor Perchwell.

“We’re very proud of this application,” Gordon said. “The response we’ve gotten from it has been tremendous.”

Gordon launched RealPlus in 1984, when listings were still shared via fax or mail. In an interview with TRD in August, he said he initially worked out of parents’ home in New Jersey, using a Ping-Pong table in his sister’s old bedroom as a desk.

In the early 2000s, the company introduced a shared electronic listing exchange dubbed R.O.L.E.X., which removed the need for faxing.

For years, a centralized Multiple Listing Service has evaded New York City, largely because major firms could not agree to any terms. In 2017, the Real Estate Board of New York began syndicating listings via its RLS (or Residential Listing Service). StreetEasy does not accept the RLS feed and the portal has since urged individual agents to manually enter listings.

Most recently, the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors and Long Island Board of Realtors merged into a single entity that covers entire metro area, from Montauk to the Catskills.

The reSOURCE application will only be used in New York. However, Gordon said he hoped in time that it would be rolled out in other markets.

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