With less than two weeks left until StreetEasy pulls the plug on automatic listing feeds, the city’s largest brokerage has lambasted the move and said it will consider “alternative marketing options.”
In a Dec. 20 email to agents, Douglas Elliman said it was “assessing the return on its StreetEasy investment as it works to explore alternative marketing options.”
“We will not go backwards in our ability to quickly and accurately utilize technology to market and sell properties,” the brokerage said according to the email, a copy of which was obtained by The Real Deal.
Starting Jan. 1, the Zillow-owned portal will require agents to manually enter all listings, and it’s upped the daily fee for rental listings to $6. Until now, StreetEasy had agreements with individual firms to take their listings in bulk via a feed.
The portal now says manual entry will help reduce errors and benefit consumers.
In a statement, Zillow spokesman Viet Shelton said the feed technology was a “barrier to innovation.”
“We had to evolve in order to solve the pain points of today’s buyer, seller, renter and agent,” he said. “Quality data is at the center of not only a good consumer experience, but an agent and brokerage’s business as well.”
He added that 50 percent of listings on StreetEasy are already entered manually. “The feedback is that it’s saving agents time,” he said.
But the brokerage industry has described the new policy as a form of blackmail. It views manual listings as a step back in time, and some have speculated the change is a way for StreetEasy to tack on additional fees for agents.
Last year, for example, StreetEasy launched a program dubbed Agent Tools that allows agents to circumvent Premier Agent by paying $333 per month. But to participate agents must enter listings manually.
In a recent conference call with agents, Corcoran CEO Pam Liebman lambasted the upcoming changes, according to multiple sources.
Several firms — including Compass, Brown Harris Stevens and Warburg Realty — cut their direct listing feeds to StreetEasy in August 2017 in favor of the Real Estate Board of New York’s newly-syndicated residential listing service (RLS).
Manual entry is just one flashpoint in the conflict between brokers and StreetEasy. Sources said the rental fee — which has doubled over the last two years — is a heavy burden for agents as well as the firms that have paid for those fees on behalf of agents.
After StreetEasy attempted to vet rental listings by asking agents for copies of their exclusive listing agreements, the firms accused the portal of trying to steal landlord clients. StreetEasy denied any attempt to cut out agents.
Zillow is going head to head with several top brokerages in the Hamptons, too. Earlier this year, several firms banded together to form the Hamptons Real Estate Association and this month launched a consumer-facing portal, called HamptonsRE. The group included the Corcoran Group, Sotheby’s International Realty, Brown Harris Stevens, Halstead and Saunders & Associates. Compass has since joined the group.
After clashing with Hamptons brokers, Zillow said it would drop the subscription fees for brokers and agents, who previously paid to post listings and access data on Out East. But skeptics likened the move to a Trojan horse and said they fear it’s the first step to monetizing the portal.