REBNY’s RLS chief bows out

John Canniffe oversaw crackdown on bad data

From left: Sandhya Espitia, John Canniffe and Jim Whelan (Linkedin, Whelan by Evan Gutierrez)
From left: Sandhya Espitia, John Canniffe and Jim Whelan (Linkedin, Whelan by Evan Gutierrez)

The RLS is running without a head.

John Canniffe, who joined the Real Estate Board of New York last year to run the residential listings service, has left the trade group for a new role, sources said.

Despite his relatively short tenure, Canniffe oversaw the RLS during an eventful few months in which the RLS suspended its days-on-market counter to help agents weather the shutdown of their businesses due to coronavirus.

As head of the RLS, he was also involved in efforts to clean up inaccurate data shared by the city’s residential brokerages. Starting Sept. 15, REBNY will begin issuing fines of up to $20,000 per sales listing and $3,200 per rental listing to agents who violate its policies, including Fair Housing Law violations.

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Canniffe did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Prior to REBNY, he spent six years as a vice president of strategic initiatives at Realogy, the brokerage giant that owns the Corcoran Group, Coldwell Banker and Sotheby’s International Realty.

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“We are grateful for the meaningful contributions John has made to the RLS and wish him success in his new venture,” Sandhya Espitia, REBNY’s chief operating officer, said in a statement.

In June, REBNY laid off staff, slashed expenses by 15 percent and cut executives’ salaries amid a steep drop in membership dues.

The trade group collected $9.7 million in dues in 2018, according to its tax filing from that year. According to the filing, REBNY paid a dozen senior staffers salaries ranging from $143,500 to $587,651. In 2018, REBNY disclosed nearly $500,000 in expenses related to operating the RLS.

Syndicating the RLS has been a major focus at REBNY in recent years, amid tension between residential firms and StreetEasy. The Zillow-owned portal does not accept the RLS feed. StreetEasy recently stopped taking brokerage feeds, too, and now requires agents to manually enter listings.

Last year, Canniffe was involved in a decision last year to award venture-backed startup Perchwell a lucrative contract to power the RLS.

At the time, sources complained that the process lacked transparency. Stratus Data Systems, which previously operated RLS’ back-end system, sent cease-and-desist letters to both Perchwell and REBNY, suggesting the startup was piggybacking on its proprietary software and data.

Write to E.B. Solomont at