Brokers, REBNY, Zillow/StreetEasy At Odds In 2024

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member

Tougher rules for real estate ads go into effect this fall
NYRAC flooded DOS with letters calling StreetEasy’s Premier Agent “deceptive”

After three years of public vitriol, lobbying and rule-writing, tighter regulations for online real estate advertising will take effect in November.
The regulations, included in the May 6 edition of the New York State Register, require additional disclosures from firms and listing portals. The adoption of the rules, published in October 2019, comes three years after StreetEasy launched its lucrative-but-controversial Premier Agent advertising program, which set much of the real estate industry against the go-to listings portal.
The program, long used by StreetEasy parent Zillow, lets agents who advertise display their name alongside listings that are not their own. Despite popularity among buyer’s agents, listing brokers have called Premier Agent misleading and disingenuous. The Real Estate Board of New York said it caused a “maelstrom” of consumer confusion.

When the state revised the rule to require third-party sites to include the word “advertisement” if an agent is paying for an ad, both StreetEasy and the real estate industry called the new rule a “win.”
But that consensus cracked during the public comment period. The Department of State said it received more than 700 public comments related to the new rule — an “overwhelming majority” of which came from New York Residential Agent Continuum.
NYRAC, an industry organization formed in 2018, said in a letter to the DOS that it feared “the language in the regulation is already outdated” and called Premier Agent “deceptive.”
In a December 2019 letter, the Real Estate Board of New York praised the regulations as a “significant step forward,” but said StreetEasy continued to come up with ways to minimize listing agents. It also said the state’s slow-moving processes cost it credibility with some agents.
Heather McDonough Domi, an agent at Compass and founding chair of NYRAC, said while the jury’s still out, she does not think the current regulations go far enough. The broker group called on the DOS to require aggregators to disclose fees paid by advertisers, and to tell consumers who fill out a “contact” form on StreetEasy where (and to whom) their information is being shared. (The final rule also requires brokerages to obtain authorization if they display another firm’s exclusive listing.)

“If you’re submitting information to a third-party that’s giving it to someone who has paid for a lead,” McDonough Domi said, “there should be a check box saying, ‘We are selling your information.’ Because that’s what it is.”

Despite receiving feedback from the real estate industry up until the eleventh hour, the DOS said it would not make any further changes to the regulation.
In the May 6 register, regulators rejected NYRAC’s proposal, writing: “The purpose of the proposed rule is to require licensed professionals to use specific text in advertising, across a broad range of media platforms, to promote transparency.” Adding another layer of disclosure would be beyond DOS’ scope, since it would be equivalent to proposing a “new” rule governing online platforms, some of which aren’t licensed by the state.

Following the May 6 notice of adoption, a Zillow spokesperson praised the DOS’ “thoughtful” approach and said the final rules are “fair to all parties.”
“These rules affirm what we’ve said from the start — that digital advertising programs like Premier Agent are allowed under the law — and effectively refute the many misleading, untruthful claims made about online advertising during this process,” the spokesman said.
Since launching Premier Agent in 2017, StreetEasy has modified the contact forms for agents. Last year, it launched Agent Spotlight, which allows agents to avoid Premier Agent on their listings for $333 a month.
But the portal’s relationship with some agents — and brokerages — remains fraught. This past February, StreetEeasy stopped taking automatic listing feeds from firms. A groundswell of agents from the city’s biggest firms has started to bypass StreetEasy altogether.

In an email to members on Sunday, REBNY said the state will issue guidance “providing further interpretation” of the regulation. “REBNY will be providing more information and interpretation of these adopted regulations shortly.”

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member

StreetEasy threatens to yank Elliman’s rental listings
NYC’s dominant listing portal warned Elliman agents that rental listings would be pulled because of a “contract dispute”

Call it a declaration of war?
StreetEasy has threatened to yank Douglas Elliman’s rental listings in what the portal has described as a contract dispute.

The Zillow-owned company alerted Elliman’s nearly 2,500 New York City agents on Thursday that the brokerage’s rental listings would be pulled unless the dispute is resolved by June 19. StreetEasy also sent the email to landlords represented by Elliman agents.

“Douglas Elliman agents will also no longer be able to create or publish new rental listings” on StreetEasy, Zillow, Trulia, Hotpads and Naked Apartments, according to the email, a copy of which was viewed by The Real Deal. Sales listings will not be affected, though it wasn’t clear why.

Neither company would confirm what sparked the email.
In a statement Thursday, a StreetEasy spokesperson said the company is committed to “ongoing conversations” with Elliman and wishes for a “swift resolution.”

“To be clear, this is not our preferred outcome,” the spokesperson said. “We know that StreetEasy is a valuable marketing tool for agents and a trusted resource for consumers.”
A spokesperson for Elliman declined to comment. But in an email to agents later on Thursday, the firm called StreetEasy’s threat “heavy handed” and said it was continuing to negotiate “some aspects of our relationship.”

The public clash marks a major turn in the relationship between the two companies. Ellliman largely stayed out of a brawl that erupted between StreetEasy and the city’s top firms in 2017, when the portal launched Premier Agent, its controversial agent advertising program. Instead, that year Elliman hired StreetEasy to build a back-end listing system for agents. At the time, Elliman COO Scott Durkin said of the portal: “No one can deliver listings to agents and customers like StreetEasy.”

But the system, which was supposed to debut in 2018, never materialized. Neither side would say publicly what happened. By late last year, Elliman joined other residential firms in blasting StreetEasy when the portal stopped taking listing feeds from brokerages. Although Zillow claimed that feeds were a “barrier to innovation,” brokers alleged manual entry was a form of blackmail that was time-consuming and would increase errors.

In an email to agents late last year, Elliman said it was “assessing the return on its StreetEasy investment” and exploring alternative marketing options. “We will not go backwards in our ability to quickly and accurately utilize technology to market and sell properties,” the firm said.

With 24 offices in New York City, Elliman churns out a heavy volume of rentals and sales. The firm sold $7.96 billion worth of real estate in 2019, according to TRD’s most recent ranking of top firms.

Some of its competitors, including Compass, Brown Harris Stevens and Warburg Realty, cut their direct feeds to StreetEasy in 2017 in favor of the Real Estate Board of New York’s syndicated residential listings service (RLS), which StreetEasy refused to accept.

The listing feed issue is just one point of contention among rental brokers, however. StreetEasy has steadily increased the fee to post listings, which now costs $6 per day per listing.
In New York City, agents have not been allowed to conduct in-person showings since March, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered non-essential workers to stay home.

Elliman had a net loss of $69 million during the first quarter, having lost $10.4 million in the same period last year, its parent company Vector reported. Quarterly revenues were $165.5 million, up 2.3 percent.
During an earnings call, Elliman chairman Howard Lorber said the firm is bracing for a “severe decline” in sales activity.

The firm laid off 100 employees and already cut salaries by 15 percent. It plans to consolidate offices or negotiate “rent reductions, deferrals or holidays.”

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member
OneKey takes on StreetEasy with new listing site
The portal has 24,432 for-sale listings from Long Island to Putnam and Orange counties

Brokers in the New York metro area are taking on the real estate industry’s 800-pound gorilla.
Realtors in Westchester and Long Island, who merged their multiple listing systems in 2018, launched a consumer-facing portal on Monday.

OneKey MLS, which debuted last year as an MLS for agents, currently has more than 40,000 listings from Montauk to Manhattan to Monticello, said the group’s CEO Jim Speer, speaking at a Zoom news conference to introduce the site.

“In this day and age, accurate data is everything,” added Richard Haggerty, president of OneKey MLS and CEO of Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, who said listing data in New York City comes directly from brokerage firms.

OneKey executives did not mention StreetEasy or its parent company Zillow by name, but they cast their site as a place where agents will retain control of their listings. The relationship between New York City’s brokerages and StreetEasy has been tense since 2017, when the listings portal introduced Premier Agent, an ad program that lets agents advertise to be a buyer’s agent.

“The consumer will never be offered pay-to-play agents,” said Leah Caro, the chairperson of OneKey’s board of managers and president of Park Sterling Realty in Bronxville.
Like aggregator sites, OneKey offers a slew of information about each listing, including neighborhood data translated into 20-plus languages and information about recently sold properties nearby. Users can save favorites, sign up for updates and see when a listing was last updated. (OneKey syncs with local MLS systems every five minutes.)

In the five boroughs, where data comes directly from brokerage firms, users can see a unit’s block and lot number, as well as the unit’s sales history from ACRIS. Users across the metro area can also schedule a tour from the OneKey site.
The site currently has 24,432 for-sale listings. By comparison, StreetEasy has 15,258 for-sale listings in New York and New Jersey.

A deeper search, however, shows StreetEasy still has the upper hand in Manhattan — by a lot. OneKey currently has 1,093 for-sale listings compared to 6,616 listings on StreetEasy.
New York City brokerage firms have clashed publicly with StreetEasy over the site’s agent advertising programs. Last year, StreetEasy said it would stop accepting brokerage feeds, and instead encouraged agents to send listings directly.

Many New York firms already cut ties with StreetEasy, instead sending listings to the Real Estate Board of New York’s syndicated Residential Listing Services. The RLS has hinted at launching a consumer site but hasn’t gone public with concrete plans to do so.

Haggerty said OneKey does not get an RLS feed. Instead, it gets listings directly from major firms, including Compass, Keller Williams and several others. Agents from Douglas Elliman and the Corcoran Group have also shared listings with OneKey, according to the site.

David Goldsmith

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Staff member
Elliman gives in to StreetEasy’s manual listings
Earlier memo to agents said listings feed would stay intact

The Douglas Elliman-StreetEasy drama has taken a new turn.
After emailing agents June 19 that the two sides had settled their bruising contract dispute, sparing agents from manually entering listings on StreetEasy, Elliman’s leaders have told them manual entry must continue.

In a memo obtained by The Real Deal, the brokerage tried to spin the news as positive — despite months of criticizing StreetEasy’s decision to stop taking automatic listings feeds from residential firms.

“We are excited to inform you that beginning July 15th, you will directly enter all new sales and rental exclusives on StreetEasy using Agent Tools,” read the June 30 memo, signed by Elliman’s New York City CEO Steven James. “By allowing you access to Agent Tools, we are providing the most effective means for you to upload your listings quickly and accurately.”

The policy amounts to a 180-degree turn for Elliman, which last year was among the New York City brokerages to condemn StreetEasy for pivoting to manual entry. Previously, the Zillow-owned portal had agreements with individual firms to take their listings in bulk.

Things came to a head in May when StreetEasy emailed Elliman’s nearly 2,500 New York City agents (and landlord clients), threatening to pull rental listings unless the firm resolved an undisclosed contract dispute.
After hasty negotiations, Elliman sent its June 19 memo to agents, letting them know the dispute — and the tedium of typing in data — were over. “As of today, the listings feed between Douglas Elliman and StreetEasy is live and you will no longer have to perform any manual entry for the site,” it declared.

Douglas Elliman declined to comment on the email sent 11 days later, in which it said it was working with StreetEasy to develop training for agents and ongoing tech support.
In a statement, a Zillow spokesperson said, “We are pleased to offer Douglas Elliman agents uninterrupted access to Agent Tools and the StreetEasy platform.”

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member
And now giant IBM
IBM slams Zillow with second suit over patented search tools
Tech giant said listings portal used 5 patents without licensing deals

IBM is escalating its legal battle with Zillow, filing a second lawsuit accusing the listings giant of infringing on patents to build its real estate search engine.
In a July 21 lawsuit, filed in federal court in Washington, IBM claimed the Seattle-based company infringed on five patents that improve searches by ranking results and simplifying content displays, among other things. Despite written notifications, Zillow has engaged in a “policy of willful blindness” and continues to use the technology, IBM alleges.

“Dozens of similar companies, including Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook, have agreed to cross licenses with IBM,” said the complaint. “Unfortunately, Zillow is not among them. Instead, Zillow has chosen to willfully infringe the five patents in this lawsuit without even considering licensing discussions.”
IBM and Zillow have been fighting over patent licensing deals for several years.
In September, the tech company sued Zillow in federal court in California, accusing it of building its portal with the unauthorized use of seven patented technologies. In that complaint, IBM said it tried for three years to reach a licensing deal with Zillow but wasn’t able to do so. In that case, IBM is seeking “royalties on the billions of dollars in revenue that Zillow has received based on their infringement of IBM’s patented technology.”

IBM, which reportedly invests more than $5 billion a year in research and development, has a history of suing tech companies, including Groupon and Twitter, for patent infringement. In March, it slapped Airbnb with a suit accusing the travel startup of using patents related to improved navigation using bookmarks and advertising in an interactive service.In a statement, Zillow said, “We are aware of the lawsuit filed in federal court. We believe the claims in the case are without merit and we intend to vigorously defend ourselves against the lawsuit.”

Since 2019, the company has bet heavily on home-buying as the future of its business. Last year, Zillow generated $2.7 billion in revenue, including $1.365 billion from its iBuying segment. However, the company lost $305.4 billion, up from $119.9 million in 2018. Zillow temporarily paused home-buying in March amid Covid’s uncertainty.

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member
Zillow launches brokerage to boost iBuying
Salaried agents will represent listings giant on cash offers

For years, Zillow denied it had plans to become a brokerage. But the listings giant is doing just that, in a move it says will streamline its iBuying operation.
Starting in January 2021, the company said salaried agents will work with sellers who want cash offers for their homes through Zillow Offers. In those transactions, Zillow Homes will be the broker of record, the company said. To start, Zillow agents will work with homeowners in Atlanta, Phoenix and Tucson, with plans to expand the service to other markets later next year.

Previously, Zillow relied on local brokerage partners to represent it when it purchased homes. Zillow’s iBuying is a burgeoning piece of its business, and by bringing that work in-house, Zillow said it hopes to make the transaction smoother for homeowners.

“Many customers found the handoffs and the back-and-forth between the Zillow employees and the agents to be confusing,” Errol Samuelson, Zillow’s chief industry development officer, said in a video circulated Wednesday to brokerages. “This new approach will streamline the transaction.”

Samuelson made a point to stress that Zillow is not looking to usurp the role of local agents, who have long feared the Seattle-based giant would push them out of transactions. “Let me address one thing right off the bat. We are not recruiting agents from other brokerages,” Samuelson said. Instead, Zillow will ask current employees who work on Zillow Offers to get licensed.

Zillow, which historically made money by selling ads through its Premier Agent program, has bet big on iBuying since 2018, when CEO Rich Barton called instant home-buying a “moon shot” opportunity. In general, iBuyers like Zillow, Opendoor and others make cash offers for homes for a fee, and aim to resell at a profit after making modest repairs.

A Zillow spokesperson said the company’s agents will only represent it on iBuying deals and will not be allowed to moonlight as agents in the traditional sense. “We are only bringing in-house the back-end work to represent ourselves whenever we directly buy or sell a home,” spokesman Viet Shelton said. “In no way are we signing clients traditionally.”

According to Shelton, Zillow will continue to refer sellers to local broker partners (i.e., Premier Agents) if they choose to sell their home traditionally. Zillow will also refer clients to local agents if they need help finding and buying their next home.
Zillow first got licensed as a brokerage in Arizona in 2018, under pressure from local regulators after it launched its iBuying program. It has steadily accumulated licenses in other states, including New York earlier this year. (Zillow does not operate its iBuying business in New York.)

Zillow has denied plans to operate a traditional brokerage. Rather, it says some of its offerings require licensing, such as its “Flex” program, which gives agents qualified buyer leads. Agents pay no upfront costs but get a “success fee” akin to a referral fee if they close a deal.

Still, the lines between traditional brokerage and iBuying are getting blurry.
Brokerage giants Realogy and Keller Williams offer online home-buying options. And in June, Offerpad launched a real estate solutions division that allows clients to list their homes with in-house agents and use a concierge service to get their property ready to list.

Last month, SoftBank-backed Opendoor quietly began recruiting agents. The company, which plans to go public via a $4.8 billion SPAC deal, said agents would work on a new “Home Reserve” platform that lets sellers list their home with Opendoor while purchasing their next home with an all-cash offer. To start, Opendoor has sought agents in Phoenix, Inman reported.

Zillow said its brokerage operation is different from its rivals since agents will only work on Zillow Offers.
Last year, iBuying accounted for 0.5 percent of the U.S. housing market, or $8 billion in sales, according to industry analyst Mike DelPrete. Opendoor, the market leader, generated $4.7 billion in revenue. Zillow, in the No. 2 spot, generated $1.365 billion in iBuying revenue in 2019, up from $52.4 million in 2018. But it still lost $300 million on iBuying.

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member
Tell me this isn't a thinly veiled lead generation platform?
StreetEasy launches automated home-valuation tool
Homeowners can request estimate of property value and monthly rent

At a time when the pandemic is tossing property values around like laundry in a washing machine, StreetEasy has launched a new tool to tell New Yorkers what their homes are worth.
The automated valuation model tool is similar to the Zestimate tool from parent company Zillow, but won’t be public-facing, Inman reports. Instead, homeowners must request access. Those who do can expect to receive an estimate of their home’s value, price per square foot and monthly rent.

Doug Perlson, StreetEasy’s vice president of real estate strategy and operations, told Inman the tool was created using “cutting-edge statistical techniques and backed by StreetEasy’s wealth of data.”
However, the company stressed that the tool is intended to be a “starting point” for homeowners, not a replacement for a professional appraisal or a real estate agent’s expertise.

Automated valuation models have faced criticism over the years from some homeowners and industry professionals who have questioned their accuracy.
A 2018 study by economists at the Federal Reserve that compared valuations from homeowners versus automated systems found the two were fairly similar, but neither was great.
According to the study, only about half of the automated estimates and 40 percent of homeowners’ estimates fell within 10 percent of the actual selling price.

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member
Looks like an anti-competitive practice:
Buy your competition and then shut it down.
Zillow to shutter Naked Apartments
Listing giant bought NYC rental site for $13M in 2016

Rental listings site Naked Apartments will go dark later this month as Zillow sends apartment seekers to StreetEasy instead.
Starting Oct. 28, apartment seekers who visit Naked Apartments in search of a New York City rental will be redirected to StreetEasy, according to an email notification. Going forward, Streetasy will have “the most complete set of NYC apartments available for rent,” the email said.

Zillow bought Naked Apartments for $13 million in 2016, three years after it bought StreetEasy for $50 million to gain a foothold in New York. Naked Apartments was founded in 2010 and billed itself as a hyperlocal rental platform with subway information, market data and agent reviews.

A StreetEasy spokesperson confirmed Naked Apartments would be discontinued. “All of the same apartments you see on are already on other Zillow Group sites,” including StreetEasy, the spokesperson said.

As of Thursday, StreetEasy listed 20,849 apartments available for rent throughout New York City.
Zillow has made several acquisitions over the past decade, and in many cases continues to operate established brands like Trulia, StreetEasy, HotPads and dotloop.
In the Hamptons, Zillow operates as Out East, after acquiring the listing platform Hamptons Real Estate Online. Zillow rolled out the new name in 2018, along with a glossy website to replace HREO’s portal, which hadn’t been updated significantly since the 1990s.

New York’s rental market is struggling as a result of mass unemployment and the departure of residents during the pandemic. Manhattan rental inventory climbed to a 14-year high last month as the vacancy rate hit a stunning 5.75 percent, according to the latest rental report from Douglas Elliman and appraiser Jonathan Miller.
The median net-effective rent in Manhattan fell to $3,036 per month, an 11 percent drop from $3,411 per month in September 2019.

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member

The Backlash Over Streeteasy’s Real Estate Listing Monopoly Begins​

New York City is seeing a listing battle like never before. Gabriels is the disrupter here, battling the former disrupter Streeteasy (Zillow) to become the defacto MLS in Manhattan. After Streeteasy killed their listing competitors and won the consumer, they began to charge significant fees to the brokerage industry to hold their listings and are acting like a monopoly and the quality of their data and features has continued to erode. One of the ways Streeteasy (and Zillow) makes money is to deflect the consumer from the actual listing agent and push them to an agent who paid Streeteasy to receive the leads. Also, Zillow is now also a brokerage firm and is, therefore, a competitor with the brokerage community such as their iBuyer effort.

Zillow deflects leads away from listing agents nationwide and absolutely screws the actual listing agent by having an “imposter” poorly represent the property and provides a blatant disservice to the consumer.

It is going to be interesting to see how the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) navigates this, having been ineffective in pushing out RLS, their failed attempt to win consumers back from Streeteasy.

REBNY is not happy with the entrance of Gabriels into the mix and hit them with a cease and desist. I think this makes REBNY look bad to their members as all of the big Manhattan firms except Corcoran seem to be on board. Why would Corcoran not be on board? Curious.

Gabriels has been in this space for decades (remember the Gabriels guides in the books stores?).


David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member

Accusations, a secret rival and brewing legal fight embroil new listings portal​

Michael Gabriel’s is in trouble with REBNY ahead of its launch

When Michael Gabriel began building a consumer-facing listings portal early this year, he thought he had the real estate industry’s blessing. Instead, he’s found himself embroiled in what could become a lengthy legal battle.
Just four days before the planned launch of, the Real Estate Board of New York hit the veteran software developer and his data partner RealPlus with cease-and-desist letters, claiming the two had improperly used its members’ residential listings data.

Both REBNY and share the goal of giving StreetEasy, the dominant listings portal in New York City, a run for its money. REBNY is said to be working on its own consumer-facing portal, backed by a third-party platform recently acquired by CoStar Group.

Now, both Gabriel and REBNY say they are lawyering up.

Gabriel is no babe in the woods. He got his start publishing an annual guide to New York City rental buildings before listings were online. Now, his firm, Gabriels Technology Solutions, is known for creating the listings portal, among other real estate sites and digital tools in the U.S. and abroad. Earlier this year, he decided to create a rival to StreetEasy, which rose to prominence in the absence of a citywide multiple listings service.

The residential brokerage industry, which has never created a successful consumer database, has been a vocal critic of StreetEasy because of the portal’s fees and advertising programs. That’s what motivated REBNY to launch its Residential Listing Service in 2017.
The official debut of was scheduled for Dec. 14. REBNY’s cease-and-desist letters accuse Gabriel and RealPlus of violating REBNY’s intellectual property by using listing data from its RLS without proper licensing.

RealPlus is owned by Eric Gordon as well as Douglas Elliman, the Corcoran Group, and Brown Harris Stevens’ parent company. Gordon was not available to comment and his partners declined.
REBNY’s lawyer indicated in an internal memo viewed by The Real Deal that the trade group had received complaints from several brokerages indicating they had not given permission to display their listings or logos. The site displays 22 residential brokerages’ logos, more than 10,000 sales listings and close to 20,400 rental listings.

“Your listings data is your most valuable asset and the compilation of those listings is the RLS’ most valuable asset,” wrote Claude Szyfer, a partner at Stroock representing REBNY, in the memo, which was sent to members of the Residential RLS Board of Directors.
“REBNY and the RLS will do everything they can under the law to protect that absolutely vital listing information,” he added.

Gabriel said he was shocked to receive the letter from REBNY and maintains that he was authorized to use RLS data on
Gabriel said he was talking to REBNY earlier this year about building a consumer-facing listing portal but, when they couldn’t agree on pricing, he decided to move forward with the website alone. Gabriel also said he’d been “encouraged by many of the larger firms.”

Correspondence provided by Gabriel shows that he filled out a form applying for a license to use RLS data in February 2020. The same day, John Canniffe, the head of the RLS at the time, wrote in an email that “due to a few things going on here, my product person suggests that you get the data from RealPlus.”
“The rest was verbal but you can take from those emails that there was authorization,” said Gabriel. “I did what I was asked to do.”

REBNY says that process did not amount to official licensing. The trade group’s president, James Whelan, said REBNY never granted a license, and RealPlus did not have its permission to give RLS data to Gabriel’s portal.
“We intend to pursue all available legal options in this matter,” he said in a statement. Canniffe left REBNY in August and did not respond to requests for comment.

There may be a factor beyond licensing at play for REBNY. The trade group has struck a deal with Homesnap, a residential technology provider, to build out its own public-facing portal that could launch early next year, according to a source with direct knowledge of the deal.
Homesnap was acquired by CoStar Group for $250 million last month, as CoStar seeks to break into the residential sector and compete with established firms — namely, Zillow Group, which owns StreetEasy.

“CoStar wants to go after Zillow,” said the person. “The only entry at this point is through this portal.”
The idea of REBNY building out its own consumer-facing portal has been much-discussed over the years, but active efforts this year were not previously reported. Asked about the partnership with Homesnap, a spokesperson for REBNY said, “We look forward to announcing upgrades and improvements.” A representative for Homesnap did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Gabriel said he wasn’t aware of REBNY’s recent plans, but he has hired an attorney to consider whether REBNY’s cease-and-desist letters could amount to an antitrust violation. The trade association paid $2 million in 2008 to settle an antitrust lawsuit for blocking access to its listings.
“[ is] a site that brokers and agents have been waiting for, and asking for, for a very long time,” he said. “And they’re trying to restrict access.”

Gabriel has invested a “substantial” sum to outfit the portal with high-quality video, the capability to operate in 19 languages and display listing prices in over 50 currencies, and other features. He said will remain open, even if he has to source listing data directly from brokers and agents in the city.
“We are forging forward,” he said, “one way or another.”

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member
For over a decade REBNY had the ability to come up with a consumer facing platform but one or another of the big firms blocked it because they thought they had some sort of competitive advantage. It's the same reason Manhattan doesn't have an MLS and OneKey is knocking on the door.

Buyers Beware Of This Advertising Tactic By Zillow And StreetEasy​

Technology governs the process of shopping for residential real estate like never before. During the 9 months (and counting) of the pandemic, owners and seekers of homes have depended on online viewings in record numbers. While only a small number of buyers actually BUY from an online tour experience, it refines the process in a way that, pre-pandemic, was far more likely to be accomplished through in-person visits to multiple houses or apartments. Why, then, do several of the major technology providers both mistreat and exploit agents, who are their primary contact to the consumer that makes up our marketplace?

There has always been substantial tension between StreetEasy, the Zillow subsidiary which runs New York City’s most popular listing site, and the brokerage community. Admittedly, brokers initially misunderstood the benefits of aggregating all listings together. In the early days of websites, the largest city brokerages believed they could increase web traffic by building out good websites and waiting for consumers to find them (with a little help from aggressive marketing campaigns, of course.) But that wasn’t what consumers wanted. For them, one-stop shopping made their lives much easier. So while the brokerages dithered, the barn door was left open and the horses were quietly ushered into the pasture of the outside aggregators, StreetEasy chief among them. And once Zillow paid $50 million to acquire StreetEasy, they needed to monetize that investment.

And so the Premier Agent program was brought to New York. This program, for many years Zillow’s primary source of revenue, is based on what appears to me to be a classic bait-and-switch. Each Zillow property page contains, in bold letters at the top, the name of an agent to contact. Ah, thinks the reader, this is the exclusive listing agent who handles the property and is the person most knowledgeable about it. But no, it’s not. It’s just the name of the agent who has PAID Zillow/StreetEasy for the privilege of being listed there. These purchases were made by Zip code, and the more the agent paid, the more exposure they got.

In practice, this marketing strategy led to a great deal of consumer confusion. Buyers would arrive at a property only to discover that their “Premier Agent,” whom they had probably never met, was not in fact the exclusive listing agent but was there to represent them as a buyer’s agent. Which is great if they actually wanted a buyer’s agent. But if they assumed they were meeting the exclusive agent, it led (and still leads) to some very tense moments. Moments that become even tenser if these buyers already HAVE their own buyer’s agent.

About a year ago, the New York Department of State ruled this form of advertising essentially deceptive and warned real estate agents that they could be liable for charges of misleading the public if they participated. So StreetEasy made a few cosmetic modifications to its page, to try to hew more closely to the exact requirements of the DOS dictum, if not its spirit. A buyer still has to look HARD to find the name and contact information of the exclusive listing agent. And as far as I can see, the Department of State rule mandating that the name of the Premier Agent appear with the word “Advertising” next to it has not been adopted at all. What does appear is a lot of camouflage to disguise the fact that the Premier Agent has purchased an advertisement from StreetEasy. So, real estate buyer, beware! Make sure you are contacting the person YOU mean to contact, not the person THEY mean you to contact. It’s all about transparency.
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David Goldsmith

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Staff member
Is Costar preparing to go head-to-head against Zillow?

FTC approves CoStar’s $250M Homesnap acquisition​

Regulators looking to block CoStar’s $588M acquisition of RentPath

CoStar Group got federal regulators’ stamp of approval to buy residential tech provider Homesnap for $250 million, but the data giant still faces scrutiny over another acquisition that would strengthen its grip on residential listings.
CoStar said the Federal Trade Commission cleared its purchase of Homesnap after the two companies submitted the proposed merger last month. Homesnap works with multiple listing services around the country, acting as a front-end portal for agents.

In a statement, CEO Andy Florance praised the quick review and said it would allow coStar to “close this transaction quickly.”

Days after CoStar and Homesnap announced their deal last month, the FTC sued to block CoStar’s $588 million purchase of rental listing platform RentPath, which operates and and filed for bankruptcy last year. In an administrative complaint, it said the deal would give CoStar too much control since it already operates, and

CoStar countered that the FTC was “wrong in its assessment.”

The Homesnap acquisition is another way for CoStar to compete in the residential real estate market. It’s made $2 billion worth of acquisitions since 2014, including ($585 million), ApartmentFinder ($170 million), ForRent ($385 million) and Cozy Services ($68 million).

With 150 employees, it is on track to generate $40 million in revenue this year, up 45 percent year over year. More than 1.1 million agents use its free product, which it claims represents 90 percent of licensed U.S. agents.
“With the new addition of clients and information … we are almost tripling the size of our addressable markets,” Florence said in November.

In New York City, which does not have an MLS, Homesnap recently struck a deal with the Real Estate Board of New York to build out a public-facing portal for residential listings.
Earlier this week, REBNY sent a cease-and-desist letter to software developer Michael Gabriel and data partner RealPlus over a new listings platform they planned to launch called The trade group said the two improperly used residential listings data from REBNY members.

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member
Nest Seekers falsely claims exclusivity on Miami listings, feeds bad information to Zillow and

Some listings are for properties that have already sold and were brokered by other firms​

Nest Seekers International has been falsely claiming exclusivity on a number of listings in Miami, and in some cases feeding that information to Zillow and, an investigation by The Real Deal reveals.
The New York-based brokerage, led by founder and CEO Eddie Shapiro, has a number of listings on its website that are labeled “exclusive,” which state that “This is a Nest Seekers Exclusive Listing.” However, in many cases, the listings belong to another brokerage, have already been sold, or have not been listed by the developer.

The Nest Seekers information is sometimes also posted on, and other websites for the public to see. That means potential buyers are presented with the wrong contact information for a listing and oftentimes price.
“These people are creating a presence by misleading the public, pretending to be exclusive listing agents on listings that are not theirs, and somehow have a superseding feed agreement with Zillow and Realtor and other listings sites,” Miami real estate broker Cyril Bijaoui, who discovered the alleged fraud, told TRD.

Nest Seekers started to remove the exclusive labels and listings from its website on Monday, after TRD reached out to the firm.
Nest Seekers president Eddie Shapiro referred TRD to Johnny Mansilla, who leads the Miami-based Mansilla Team of more than 20 agents, and said he does not have control over public listing websites. Mansilla said Nest Seekers “prides” itself on having “integrity and transparency,” and that any listings on the Nest Seekers website were from the Multiple Listing Service or else Nest Seekers had the exclusive at a certain point.

On a second call, Mansilla deferred responsibility to Nest Seekers.
“I don’t own the website. I am just a broker. I don’t represent the company,” he said. “You shouldn’t be talking to me, you should be talking to the marketing department.”
Some of the listings appear to be made up or are for new development condos. With new development, one brokerage will often have the exclusive sales and marketing and may only list some or the units on the MLS.

The penthouse at Regalia, a luxury condo tower in Sunny Isles Beach, is listed for $32 million on and Zillow with Mansilla of Nest Seekers. But Mark Pordes confirmed he and Adam Kaufman have the exclusive sales and marketing for the two developer units that remain at Regalia. And, Pordes said, the penthouse is on the market for $29.5 million, a recently reduced price that includes an Iguana yacht.

Historically, websites such as Zillow get listing information from multiple listing services around the country, but they will also pull from individual brokerages if the information is more accurate than the MLS, experts say.
“What Nest Seekers is doing, the most polite thing I could say is it’s unethical,” said Steve Murray, president of Real Trends, a real estate research and publishing firm.
Instead of using information from the Southeast Florida MLS, Zillow and Realtor have pulled information for specific listings from Nest Seekers, calling into question the verification process.
A spokesperson for said that the company accepts data feeds from the MLS, as well as brokers, and confirmed that Nest Seekers provides a broker feed to The spokesperson said the listings shared by TRD to match what is on the Nest Seekers site.

“Any discrepancies between broker and MLS data are addressed between those respective parties,” according to the spokesperson. Zillow did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ring the alarm​

Last Sunday, Westside Estate Agency broker Bijaoui received a call from an agent to verify whether he was the listing agent for 970 South Shore Drive, a waterfront home in Miami Beach, Bijaoui said. The agent had a buyer interested in viewing the property, but the listing agent in the MLS didn’t match what was posted on Zillow. Bijaoui, the true listing agent, had been replaced with Nest Seekers agent Marjorie Galeano on Zillow.

In fact, Galeano appeared as the listing agent since Oct. 27, which means for a month and a half, any broker or buyer looking on Zillow or Realtor would have contacted Galeano, not Bijaoui.
Aston Martin Residences listings, as seen on Nest Seekers and Zillow
Aston Martin Residences listings, as seen on Nest Seekers and Zillow
According to text messages between Bijaoui and Galeano, provided to TRD by Bijaoui, Galeano said that “by no means am I doing anything illegal.” She attempted to blame Bijaoui for selecting the “OK to advertise” option in the MLS. She said she and her broker use a platform that “syncs [ads] globally” on 97 websites, the screenshots show.

In Bijaoui’s response, he wrote that “claiming exclusive status when [it’s] not exclusive is fraud.” Nest Seekers and Zillow allegedly fixed their respective listings, and within days Bijaoui received an offer from a buyer. Bijaoui said he only received interest in the property once Zillow corrected the listing.
In doing so, Zillow reset the clock, wiping out the days on market. Former Miami Realtor Kevin Tomlinson filed a complaint against The Jills agents Jill Hertzberg and Jill Eber in 2015 over their alleged manipulation of specific fields in MLS, including days on market. He was ultimately convicted of trying to extort $800,000 from the Jills.

“Zillow controls the market,” Bijaoui said, noting that the MLS is “becoming irrelevant.” He plans to file a complaint with the Florida Real Estate Commission.
In some cases, the falsely listed properties have already been sold. A penthouse at Arte by Antonio Citterio in Surfside, currently listed for $40 million on the Nest Seekers website, sold last week for $33 million, and Nest Seekers was not involved in the deal. Douglas Elliman, which is handling sales on behalf of the developer, was the listing brokerage. Elliman also has the exclusive on a penthouse at The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Miami Beach, that Nest Seekers claimed as exclusive, asking about $20.3 million.

A spokesperson for Elliman said both are exclusive to Elliman, and “there is no co-exclusive listing with any other brokerage.”
A two-bedroom, 3,104-square-foot unit at the Estates at Acqualina is listed on for $3.85 million with Rob Fuller of Nest Seekers. But the developer, the Trump Group, always handles sales in-house, led by Michael Goldstein. Nest Seekers has claimed exclusivity on a number of Acqualina units.

Penthouses and units at Aston Martin Residences are also listed on Nest Seekers website as “exclusive” with Nest Seekers agents. Cervera Real Estate is the true listing brokerage for all units inside the building, which is under construction, a Cervera spokesperson confirmed.
The same is true of units listed at Turnberry Ocean Club. A spokesperson confirmed all listings are handled in house.

Though the majority of the Miami-area listings on Nest Seekers’ website are of condos, some are for single-family homes. Nest Seekers claims it has the exclusive on 5709 La Gorce Drive in Miami Beach, which the brokerage has on the market for $4.7 million.
According to the MLS, the La Gorce house sold Sept. 8. Jeri Jenkins of Coldwell Banker represented the seller, and Darin Tansey of Douglas Elliman brought the buyer. It sold for $4 million.

9400 Old Cutler Lane listings, as seen on Nest Seekers and Realtor
9400 Old Cutler Lane listings, as seen on Nest Seekers and Realtor
“It appears that these brokers are misrepresenting the truth in an effort to fraudulently drive traffic to their business,” said Josh Migdal, a partner at Miami-based law firm Mark Migdal & Hayden. “This ultimately could result in losses to the appropriate brokers and losses to the buyer and seller who could pay additional commissions and/or improper prices for the home.”

Wild Wild West​

Nest Seekers entered the South Florida market in 2007, but has yet to gain a major foothold in Miami. To some on the outside, it seems that Nest Seekers is attempting to inflate its market share in Miami.
The false listings are under the names of Mansilla and other agents in South Florida. Mansilla, alone, has 164 listings in Miami, according to his profile page on Nest Seekers. At the top of the list is the $13 million listing of 165 North Hibiscus Drive in Miami Beach. Dora Puig of Luxe Living Realty is the true listing agent.

Chris Zoller, an agent who sits on the Miami Association of Realtors board of directors, said that the MLS is the most accurate source of information for buyers. Zoller compared the public listings sites like and to the “Wild, Wild West” and said listings agents should be diligent about protecting their listings.

Brokers were alarmed to hear that Nest Seekers has been claiming exclusivity and sharing listings without permission, and planned to contact the brokerage immediately. Zoller said it was “robbery.”
“It is unfortunate that sometimes an unscrupulous player can slip under the radar and lay claim to something that is not true,” Zoller said. “We [South Florida] are the capital of fraud. We seem to allow more fraud than most other parts of the nation, and it’s really scary.”
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David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member
Is Costar preparing to go head-to-head against Zillow?

FTC approves CoStar’s $250M Homesnap acquisition​

Regulators looking to block CoStar’s $588M acquisition of RentPath

CoStar Group got federal regulators’ stamp of approval to buy residential tech provider Homesnap for $250 million, but the data giant still faces scrutiny over another acquisition that would strengthen its grip on residential listings.
CoStar said the Federal Trade Commission cleared its purchase of Homesnap after the two companies submitted the proposed merger last month. Homesnap works with multiple listing services around the country, acting as a front-end portal for agents.

In a statement, CEO Andy Florance praised the quick review and said it would allow coStar to “close this transaction quickly.”

Days after CoStar and Homesnap announced their deal last month, the FTC sued to block CoStar’s $588 million purchase of rental listing platform RentPath, which operates and and filed for bankruptcy last year. In an administrative complaint, it said the deal would give CoStar too much control since it already operates, and

CoStar countered that the FTC was “wrong in its assessment.”

The Homesnap acquisition is another way for CoStar to compete in the residential real estate market. It’s made $2 billion worth of acquisitions since 2014, including ($585 million), ApartmentFinder ($170 million), ForRent ($385 million) and Cozy Services ($68 million).

With 150 employees, it is on track to generate $40 million in revenue this year, up 45 percent year over year. More than 1.1 million agents use its free product, which it claims represents 90 percent of licensed U.S. agents.
“With the new addition of clients and information … we are almost tripling the size of our addressable markets,” Florence said in November.

In New York City, which does not have an MLS, Homesnap recently struck a deal with the Real Estate Board of New York to build out a public-facing portal for residential listings.
Earlier this week, REBNY sent a cease-and-desist letter to software developer Michael Gabriel and data partner RealPlus over a new listings platform they planned to launch called The trade group said the two improperly used residential listings data from REBNY members.

Noah Rosenblatt

Talking Manhattan on
Staff member
well, yeah. I mean they own the commercial re space. Im not surprised the rentpath acq is being shut down, these guys are very close to monopoly status. Re: residential, homesnap won the rebny portal award to compete with SE here in nyc, so there is that..still, i have questions to whether that inative will prove successful

John Walkup

Talking Manhattan on
Agree. It takes a ton of resources to set up shop as a portal in NYC but that pales in comparison to the amount of spending on a daily level to get enough consumers to move from SE. The original SE solved a huge problem. The new portals are just choices, not gamechangers.

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member