REBNY vs. StreetEasy: The fight for listings in Gotham

REBNY accuses StreetEasy of “brazen tactics” as tensions between the trade giant and listings site reach a fever pitch

Jan.January 20, 2020 03:20 PM

In December, attorneys for the Real Estate Board of New York wrote an angry letter to New York State regulators accusing StreetEasy of using “brazen tactics” to steer consumers to agents who advertise on the site. A proposed state rule would ban the practice, but it has not yet taken effect…

REBNY claimed that StreetEasy’s Premier Agent platform “falls woefully short” of pending standards that would require third-party websites to clearly credit listing agents. “Consumers need to know that Premier Agent is nothing more than a paid-for status and not an indication of the level of service, experience or the personal qualifications of the broker,” the letter stated…

New York State regulators have been conducting a two-year probe, issuing guidance for who’s allowed to advertise properties for sale and how, following backlash from residential agents over Premier Agent. REBNY has said the ad program caused a “maelstrom” of consumer confusion…

With pressure from StreetEasy mounting, REBNY has made a renewed push to gain traction in the residential brokerage community. As part of that strategy, the trade group has been looking to step up its own syndicated listings feed, which had a reported 19,000 listings as of March 2019…

That’s not the only confrontation… Last fall, New York City brokerage execs, including Brown Harris Stevens’ Bess Freedman, also accused StreetEasy of using confidential information to try to skirt brokers and woo landlords to list directly on the site. A StreetEasy spokesperson called those claims an “unfortunate misunderstanding”…

Going to bat for residential brokers has been an uphill battle for REBNY… In 2018, Douglas Elliman’s Howard Lorber got into a heated exchange with the trade group’s former president John Banks, who stepped down the following year. Lorber told TRD at the time that his frustration stemmed from what he believed was REBNY’s tendency to focus on commercial members at the expense of resi firms…

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