StreetEasy updates to our Real Estate Annual article

25 Oct 2017

In the AIM Group’s 2017 Real Estate Classified Annual, we took a deep look at the battle for New York City following pricing and changes in functionality made by Zillow Group’s StreetEasy (and the pushback from the city’s strong realtor community). We spoke to a number of the more outspoken players in the story, including StreetEasy general manager Susan Daimler.

Susan Daimler, GM of StreetEasy (courtesy)

After our article was published, Daimler contacted us and said that, in the time between when we conducted our interview over the summer and the publication date of our report, there have been some updates. Daimler wanted to set the record straight. Here’s some of what she told us.

One of Zillow Group biggest changes was the introduction of a $3-per-listing-per-day fee for rental properties posted to StreetEasy. We reported that the number of rental listings on StreetEasy plummeted from over 30,000 to under 14,000, climbing back slightly to 17,000. That was correct, Daimler said, but the number today is “hovering around 18,500 and we are down only 20 percent year-over-year, not 50 percent” compared with the original figure of 30,000.

Moreover, Daimler wanted to emphasize that “year-over-year is a better barometer of our overall listing picture rather than the 1-day snapshot referenced. The 50-percent reference is only applicable to the first day that we turned the Rental Network on. While there was an initial inventory drop, it was anticipated. Seasonality also plays a role in listing inventory.”

When we reported this article over the summer, two brokerages, Corcoran Group and Citi Habitats, said they had stopped their feeds to StreetEasy in protest. But, Daimler stressed the two never actually made any changes to their feeds. And in September, Realogy (parent to both Corcoran and Citi Habitats) inked a long-term, multi-year deal with Zillow Group where Realogy is paying the posting fees for its brokers.

We also reported on a second rebellion, this one by the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), which launched its RLS — the city’s first true, multiple-listing service — just days after StreetEasy’s announced its changes. At the time, Daimler called the RLS feed “a clear move to restrict our efforts to provide consumers with the most robust real estate marketplace in New York City.”

Daimler has now tempered her ferocity. “Our business is healthy, robust and we see plenty of room for both direct feeds to StreetEasy and REBNY’s RLS offerings to coexist in the marketplace. Where REBNY represents the industry, StreetEasy’s north star is the consumer.”

In announcing the Realogy deal with StreetEasy, Corcoran CEO Pam Liebman said in an email that “we of course will still support the RLS feed and will continue to send our listings through the RLS to the hundreds of aggregation sites that have signed on to it.” But, she added that the new deal with Zillow and StreetEasy “is in the very best interest of our clients and our agents.”

Not everyone agreed. Groused one brokerage to The Real Deal, Liebman “got everyone to go get their bathing suits on, and when it was time to jump in, she never did.”

The Realogy-Zillow understanding certainly takes some of the wind out of the rebellious brokerages’ bluster. Still, a total of 11 New York City firms have stopped — or said they will stop — their automatic feeds to StreetEasy. They include Halstead Property, Brown Harris Stevens, Town Residential, Compass, Stribling & Associates, Warburg Realty, Fox Residential, Kleier Residential, Leslie J. Garfield, Bond New York and Tungsten.

Following the original brouhaha over the listings fees, StreetEasy made clear that realtors could update their own listings manually. Many are doing so with their brokerages’ permission (if not financial support).

StreetEasy’s Daimler said that, as of Sept. 15, 2017, “nearly 80 percent of sales listings that originated from stopped feeds have been updated by agents, and 100 percent of rental listings have been updated. Almost 1,000 new listings (cumulative sales and rentals) have been created from scratch by agents at these firms.”

Daimler added that during Q2 of FY2017, more than 14.7 million people visited Zillow Group’s NYC Rental Network, which includes Zillow, Trulia, StreetEasy and HotPads, and 2.1 million email leads were delivered to rental professionals.

One of the bigger gripes that brokerages complained about was that StreetEasy wasn’t taking down listings from realtors who decided not to pay the $3-a-day fee. Instead, their active listings were being marked “unavailable” — even if they’re still on the market.

StreetEasy addressed that confusion directly. The status on the site for listings in this situation now reads: “No longer on StreetEasy.”

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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.