REBNY, CoStar Start Online Residential Listings Service

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The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) launched its much-anticipated residential rental and sales portal, dubbed Citysnap, with data giant CoStar Group on Thursday.

Zillow-owned StreetEasy has so far dominated the online listings scene, but Citysnap might prove to be a worthy competitor. The new site is the first to let consumers search thousands of properties from REBNY’s in-house Residential Listing Service (RLS), according to the organization. 

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REBNY’s roughly 12,000 residential brokerage members can post their listings for free on Citysnap, unlike StreetEasy, which charges $6 a day for rental postings. The portal was designed by CoStar and will be partly funded by REBNY member dues, according to the organization. 

Citysnap’s access to RLS data is the main draw for brokers and consumers in New York City, which lacks a multiple listings service (MLS), a one-stop-shop for the residential real estate market, said Douglas Wagner, co-chair of REBNY residential RLS’ board of directors and director of brokerage services at the real estate firm Bond New York

“An agent, if they chose to do so, could operate their entire practice from inside the Citysnap Pro app,” Wagner said. “Agents won’t have other agents advertising on their exclusive properties, which is huge for our community.”

Eventually, Wagner expects the portal to include paid features such as a way to promote listings, but for now it’s free and exclusive to REBNY members. With only REBNY brokers posting listings, Wagner hopes to draw consumers looking for reliable information on New York City’s red-hot housing market — which saw the median rent skyrocket in June to a record-high $4,000 a month in Manhattan and $3,250 in Brooklyn. 

“New Yorkers no longer have to rely on out-of-date, inaccurate listing information or be connected to agents and brokers who don’t know anything about the home they are interested in, making a difficult process even harder,” Andy Florance, CoStar’s founder and CEO, said in a statement. 

The portal is the latest chapter in a long battle between New York City’s myriad listing services and ​​REBNY, which hasn’t been the quickest to jump into the trenches. Craigslist, Redfin, StreetEasy and Trulia have been around for decades, while REBNY founded its tech committee only in 2017 and announced Citysnap just last year.

The war for residential listing supremacy has been heated. Real estate companies have repeatedly called for boycotts against StreetEasy, which saw 180 million visits in 2021 — a nearly 40 percent increase from 2019. Compass, Brown Harris Stevens, Stribling & Associates, Town Residential and Warburg Realty stopped updating posts on the site after StreetEasy introduced listing fees in 2017, but StreetEasy countered by allowing agents to manually update listings, and it stopped accepting automatic listings from brokerages in 2020. 

Several brokerages hoped to create an MLS in the early 2000s, but infighting between the firms caused the idea to fail, The Real Deal reported. Since then, StreetEasy has operated as New York City’s default MLS.

“As the most trusted real estate platform in NYC, we arm millions of home shoppers with information and access to the most comprehensive and accurate marketplace of NYC listings that puts them in control when finding their next home,” said a spokesperson for StreetEasy. “We are the platform to deliver a tech-enabled future agents and consumers want because of our consumer-obsessed approach.”

Celia Young can be reached at cyoung@commercialobserver.com.