REBNY and CoStar’s new listing portal will let agents pay for top placements

Future rival StreetEasy’s practices “offensive to the industry,” CoStar CEO Andy Florance said Tuesday

REBNY's James Whelan and CoStar CEO Andrew Florance (Getty, iStock)
REBNY's James Whelan and CoStar CEO Andrew Florance (Getty, iStock)

When the Real Estate Board of New York revealed earlier this month that it was launching a public listing portal with commercial data giant CoStar, agents and industry leaders asked: How would it make money?

The answer: promoted listings.

Citysnap, REBNY’s long awaited residential listing portal slated to launch next year, will offer agents the opportunity to buy preferred placements to increase exposure for their listings, CoStar founder Andrew Florance announced during the firm’s earnings call Tuesday.

While it will be free to list on Citysnap, Florance likened the feature to promoted listings found on other websites, including apartments on Apartments.com and commercial properties on LoopNet.

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CoStar CEO Andy Florance and REBNY president James Whelan (Getty, iStock, REBNY)
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Brokerage execs gush over REBNY, CoStar listing portal. Agents aren’t sold

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The Real Deal first reported REBNY’s partnership with Homesnap (which is owned by CoStar) in December 2020. The official announcement earlier this month was met with positive responses from brokerage executives, sprinkled with some doubts from agents and industry leaders who were unclear on how it would win over consumers and curtail StreetEasy’s dominance.

“We believe we can build a profitable successful business without disintermediating our clients,” Florance said, adding that CoStar hopes to use its technology to help agents strengthen their client relationships and sell more properties.

Florance threw some direct shade at Zillow subsidiary StreetEasy’s controversial reign as the de facto multiple listings service for the city’s residential market.

“I’m aware that folks are pretty annoyed with StreetEasy and the fact that the prices are going up so rapidly,” he said. “Blackmail’s too strong a word for it, but it’s Zillow-mail or something. It’s a little offensive to the industry.”

Through a website and app, Citysnap will aim to provide complete, accurate and real-time residential listing data to agents, building owners, home buyers and renters, he said. Citysnap will employ Homesnap’s suite of tools to connect potential buyers and renters with listing agents, both for free listings and promoted ones.

CoStar’s profits increased 5 percent in the third quarter, despite weakening demand for apartment advertising. It recorded $64 million in net income for the quarter on $499 million in revenue.