Zillow Group-owned New York City real estate listing website StreetEasy has updated its listing quality policy to require that agents who choose to advertise on the site post all for-sale listings on StreetEasy within 24 hours of posting them on any other website or platform.
The new rule is similar to a policy implemented by Realtor-affiliated multiple listing services in May designed to combat pocket listings.
StreetEasy decided that the pocket listing discussion happening in the industry presented an “opportunity to also clarify our listing quality policy around timeliness,” Zillow Group spokesperson Viet Shelton told Inman in a phone interview.
It’s “important to be fair and equitable” when one advertises publicly, according to Shelton.
If agents don’t comply with the 24-hour rule, StreetEasy will work with them to address any issues, such as technical problems that could be interfering, but if agents choose not to comply, then they will lose access to StreetEasy’s Agent Tools, which allow them to advertise on the site.
“If they choose not to [comply], they’re basically saying they don’t want to advertise on StreetEasy, which is fine,” Shelton said.
“We think ultimately not having accurate listings on StreetEasy is not a great consumer experience.”
He added that agents have a “right” to not advertise on the site, but that Zillow Group hopes that “the reach and value” of doing so will make them want to.
Shelton went on to say that the company considered the 24-hour stipulation a “clarification” of its existing listing quality policy, which already requires that listings be accurate. He said an email StreetEasy sent to agents on Monday, as first reported by The Real Deal, was “letting them know that part of accuracy also means timeliness,” Shelton said.
The 24-hour rule has elicited criticism from New York City brokerages, who see the rule as StreetEasy’s latest attempt to control listings in the market, according to The Real Deal.
Because the new stipulation has been incorporated into StreetEasy’s listing quality policy, agents do not have to sign anything new to agree to follow the policy — they are agreeing by continuing to advertise on the site, according to Shelton. Therefore, enforcement of the 24-hour rule will occur when a listing is flagged as being non-compliant, he said. StreetEasy will decide when to cut off access to its Agent Tools on a case-by-case basis, he added.
The new stipulation says, “All Sale listings should be posted on StreetEasy within 24 hours of being posted on any other website or platform.” By “website or platform,” the company generally means those that are “public-facing,” according to Shelton. So a listing entered into the Residential Listing Service (RLS) of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) would not fall under the new rule unless the listing “appears on a public-facing site via the RLS,” Shelton said.
StreetEasy’s 24-hour rule is more stringent than the National Association of Realtors’ Clear Cooperation Policy in one sense: it requires that listings be posted within 24 hours. The NAR rule requires posting in the MLS within one business day, which means an agent could theoretically leave a listing off of the MLS for days over a weekend.
Zillow Group will not impose any such rule for its other listing portals, according to Shelton. “This is a StreetEasy thing that’s really driven by the uniqueness of the market,” he said.
StreetEasy has required agents to manually input listings instead of accepting direct data feeds from brokerage firms since the beginning of the year, according to The Real Deal.
In other markets nationwide, Zillow Group’s portals, including flagship Zillow, do not allow agents to manually enter listings. They get the bulk of their listings from MLSs because virtually everyone in a market uses the MLS and MLSs enforce data quality standards.
But “there’s no real MLS in New York,” Shelton said. “In a case where there isn’t one we’ve come to realize that if there is no MLS feed, the best way to get the most accurate up-to-date listings available for the public is through direct [manual] entry.”
This is in contrast with what Zillow Group said when the company nixed manual entry for agents in 2017. At the time the company said, “We are taking this step to provide buyers and sellers with the highest-quality listings data possible, and to provide agents and brokers with a simple way to market their listings. Broker and MLS feeds are the best way to achieve this.”
Asked whether broker feeds wouldn’t be more comprehensive and accurate than agents manually entering listings, Shelton said, “We just felt overall for this particular market we felt that [manual entry] is the best path for accurate, up-to-date listings that provide the best experience for users of the site and the general public.”
He added that before StreetEasy required it, most listings on the site were already manually entered.
StreetEasy has had troubled relationships with some of New York City’s most prominent brokerage firms. In May, the site was embroiled in a contract dispute with Douglas Elliman that ultimately ended last month when the brokerage gave in to StreetEasy’s manual entry requirement.