Realtors take sides in Zillow-StreetEasy NYC battle

24 Jul 2017

The battle between real estate classified sites run by the Zillow Group and New York City rental agents continues to heat up.

After Zillow began charging $3 per listing per day to post onto its New York City sites — primarily StreetEasy, which leads the rental classified space in the city — realtors are divided. Some are swallowing what they consider an oversized and foul tasting pill, while others are in open rebellion.

On the rebellion side: the Corcoran Group, which announced it will no longer send its rental listings to StreetEasy. Citi Habitats, a brokerage that Corcoran bought in 2004, has done the same. Both are owned by Realogy Holdings. Corcoran CEO Pamela Liebman likened the new fee to biting “the hand that feeds them.”

However, a Zillow spokesperson told The Real Deal website that both firms are still sending their rental listings. But The Real Deal only found a single listing, from Realogy franchise Sotheby’s, on StreetEasy when it checked last week. Corcoran said it will allow its agents to post to StreetEasy on their own. Corcoran also hasn’t cut its feed of for-sale properties to Zillow.com.

On the bitter pill-swallowing side, Douglas Elliman, the city’s largest residential firm, said it will cover the cost of the new fees through its advertising budget. The Real Deal said that cost could soar as high as $1.6 million a year.

Taking a middle ground, some brokers such as Brown Harris Stevens and Town Residential are not boycotting StreetEasy outright, but are forcing their agents to pay the fee themselves if they choose to list there.

StreetEasy general manager Susan Daimler dismissed the agents’ concerns. In an email, she wrote: “For agents, the advertising fee represents a single-digit share of the potential rental commissions earned and is nominal for the service and advertising value that StreetEasy provides for agents and their listings, reaching the largest audience of renters in NYC.”

You can read our previous coverage here.

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Brian Blum

Brian Blum covers the U.S., Canada and Israel for Classified Intelligence Report, and contributes to our special reports and research projects. Originally from San Francisco and now based in Jerusalem, he has been with the AIM Group since 2004. He is the president of Blum Interactive Media, specializing in writing and multimedia content development for online, print, video and audio. His clients include newspapers, universities and non-profits. He is currently working on a book about the billion-dollar bankruptcy of a once high-flying Israeli startup.