The Real Deal

By Meenal Vamburkar | March 22, 2019

Every new StreetEasy fee spurs a familiar cycle among brokers: outrage, pay up, rinse, repeat. But its latest program, designed to appease some of those worries, may break the cycle.

In the two years since Zillow Group launched its Premier Agent program on StreetEasy, it’s been a persistent source of frustration for the city’s brokers. To assuage their concerns — and bring in additional revenue — the company launched another initiative this year, dubbed Agent Spotlight. It allows brokers to bypass Premier Agents on their listings. But the steep fee, logistical hurdles and general mistrust of StreetEasy has kept agents skeptical of the program, industry players said.

Malessa Rambarran, of Halstead’s Milano-Rambarran team, said she’s seen an effect on their listings from the tweak. Their listing at 270 Water Street in Manhattan, asking $1.5 million, has seen fewer direct inquiries through the site. But Rambarran and her partner Candice Milano aren’t looking to Agent Spotlight as a solution.

“We feel that it’s directly impacted us but we refuse to buy into it,” Rambarran said. “It feels like a waste of our marketing dollars.”

Instead, the pair is looking at other approaches to boost leads outside StreetEasy. They’re focusing largely on social media to attract younger consumers, Milano said. And also on networking and publicity they get through their group, The Organization by Women in Real Estate, or TOWRE.