How a $3 Per Day Charge Will Affect the Renter in NYC. by Shyda Hoque

Streeteasy has been the “go to” for NYC real estate since I started working in 2010.  The New York City-based website launched in 2005 and really changed the game and certainly leveled the playing field for small brokerages to compete with the established firms. The Realty Collective website fed to Streeteasy back in 2010 and many of the deals I helped close came from clients who inquired from Streeteasy which, at the time, only showed the cross streets.  As years passed by Streeteasy would create even more transparency by having addresses disclosed—the days of meeting the client on the corner were over.

People flocked to Streeteasy and many consumers and the website took credit for taming “the wild west” of the NYC rental market.  In the last two years the website increased by 70%. Zillow acquired Streeteasy in 2013 as well as Trulia a year later which garnered more exposure to rental listings. You see NYC never had an MLS and Streeteasy capitalized on it. It was a place where you could compare properties, a stunning interface, customized searches and daily alerts.  This has been a great resource for both brokerages and consumers.

Brokers liked it as you still didn’t have to pay for a monthly subscription and in just minutes give your rental listing exposure.  There were Streeteasy marketing campaigns all over the MTA with formulas for finding the right space in the right neighborhood.  Over 30,000 rentals were available until about three months ago when Streeteasy started charging $3 a day PER LISTING.  This led many brokers to protest and several big brokerages pulled their ads as Streeteasy listings dropped to 15,000.  I just checked the listings as of mid-October and there are 17,950 listings available.

While there are few established brokerages that negotiated deals to pay for Streeteasy for their agents. Many boutique brokerages have had to dig into their pockets to pay for their own ads.  Trust me that $3 adds up when you are working for 100% commission. Many agents have chosen not to opt into Streeteasy and rely on other websites including LeaseBreak, Naked Apartments, and many went back to Craigslist.  Realty Collective is part of REBNY (Real Estate Board of New York) which improved their REBNY Listing Service that feeds to the Realty Collective website and advertises other brokers listings.  As well, the New York Times is now taking the REBNY feed which means that all REBNY brokers will have 100% of their listings fed to the New York Times. The founder of LeaseBreak Phil Horigan wrote a great piece a few weeks ago explaining how significant changes are taking place.  He said in his post, “I see positive steps every day.  But the big change will happen in months and years, not days and weeks.”   I wish it could happen in a few days though!

I called an established broker who has been in the business for 30 years a few days ago to ask if she had anything for a client? She listed her listings and I stated I did not see on Streeteasy.  She explained, “I don’t use Streeteasy anymore call me whenever you have someone from now on.”

There might be a new technology that will take the real estate industry but my main suggestion to consumers looking for a rental is to really be creative and really connect with your network and find a broker you trust to find a space, use the New York Times and LeaseBreak.  Not all listings will be added to Streeteasy anymore.

Time will tell how this will affect the over-saturated market. I guess not all is well with Zillow, as it’s stock dropped 23%.   For me, this change has been a way to pivot my marketing.  As Socrates once said, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”  Let’s hear it for the new!

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