REBNY, CoStar launch Citysnap listing portal

Portal to house RLS data for residential rentals, properties

CoStar's Andy Florance and REBNY’s James Whelan (Getty, iStock)
CoStar's Andy Florance and REBNY’s James Whelan (Getty, iStock)

The Real Estate Board of New York, in partnership with CoStar Group, launched a long-awaited public portal for residential listings.

Dubbed Citysnap, the platform is the first search site and app to feature all data from the RLS for both residential rentals and properties for sale.

The service potentially fills a void: the confounding absence of a citywide multiple listing service. Previously, infighting between major firms dashed hopes for one. This time, New York City’s largest brokerages stood united behind the initiative when it was first announced.

Douglas Wagner, a REBNY co-chair and director at BOND New York, said the brokerage community has “fought tooth and nail for years” for an “easy exchange” between a central listing inventory to brokerages’ internal operating listing systems.

The platform was created following the principles of “Your Listing, Your Lead,” meaning all leads from Citysnap listings will go directly to the listing broker or agent, with no additional cost or daily fee. REBNY’s more than 12,000 residential brokerage members will have free access to Citysnap Pro.

In addition to data, Citysnap offers detailed listing features, such as distance to nearby subway stations and details on the buildings in which each listed apartment is located. It also offers a Sky Cam feature, which shows over 50,000 360-degree aerial videos of residential buildings across the city.

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Citysnap underwent a series of surveys, meetings and focus groups in preparation for its launch. Corcoran Group COO Gary Malin said the brokerage community has “rallied around” the platform, but persuading agents to make the switch might pose a challenge.

“Change is never easy for anyone,” Malin said. But “​​I think the agents really are going to embrace this. I think consumers will embrace this.”

Citysnap presents a challenge to StreetEasy, which has for years acted as New York City’s defacto MLS.

Eighty percent of people searching for real estate online in New York use StreetEasy and Zillow Group’s other consumer brands, according to a ComScore survey. StreetEasy says it received more than 180 million visits across its website and mobile apps in 2021, up over 20 percent from the year before and up almost 40 percent from 2019.

However, StreetEasy charges $6 a day for rental postings, along with fees for other features, such as agent spotlight and feature listings. The premiums, along with requirements that agents must post listings on the site prior to posting elsewhere, pose a burden to users and, with a free option now available, spell trouble for the listing behemoth.

“I can’t speak for StreetEasy because I think they’re more about monetizing everything,” said Bess Freedman, CEO of Brown Harris Stevens. “What Citysnap is trying to do is empower agents and make sure the consumer has transparent information right there and there’s no pay-to-play.”