The End of Paid Listings: REBNY – NYT Partnership Opens Up Free Listing Service for Brokers

Market Report provided by Nest Seekers

Major breaking news: starting early next month, posting your residential listing can be done with no extra cost. The Real Estate Board of New York promised this after announcing its newest partnership with the New York Times. Through this unique collaboration, the Times will feature residential listings from all five boroughs in its official website with the entries provided by the Residential Listing Service—a feature that REBNY launched a month ago.

This joint effort marks a huge transition for brokers—a shift from a paid listing model to a free one that can guarantee higher viewership.

The Benefits Versus The Costs

Waiving the costs for displaying listings in the paper’s Real Estate section can lead to some lost revenue. When asked about this, Brendan Walsh, the executive advertising director of the Times, was clear in explaining how the new partnership’s benefits can outweigh the costs.

“A comprehensive set of listings will provide us with a greater market share and lead to more opportunities in display advertising. Our clients would rather spend their advertising dollars in innovative native display, branded content and social influencer programs,” Walsh said.

Through the vast number of listings to be posted for free, The Times hopes to generate more readership which, in effect, will attract more advertisers in the long run.

The pay-off is huge for REBNY as well. By having a place in the NYT website, the RLS will be able to successfully provide sales and rental information at a very wide reach.

“Today’s New York City renters and home buyers will benefit from expanded access to the most accurate listing information powered by this natural and significant partnership,” stated John Banks, president of REBNY. "From a historic perspective, we're two institutions that have been involved in real estate in the city in New York for over 100 years," says Banks. "We're looking forward to a long, productive relationship with the Times."

Currently, its listings come from 595 firms with more than 9,000 real estate agents making use of its service. In terms of Manhattan listings, there is an estimated 5,000, but that number is expected to grow higher by about 60% once the RLS goes live in the website, especially as the free model cuts major costs for real estate firms while also enabling smaller brokerages to afford space for their listings in the Times.

Fueling the Competition

As the joint effort produced a symbiotic partnership, it also produced tension from major competitors, especially StreetEasy—currently New York’s go-to database for residential listings and a service that charges $3 per day for brokers to feature listings on its website.

To compare, the Times currently has 9,058 sales listings and 18,794 rentals while StreetEasy features 12,264 sales listings and 18,196 rental units. The free-model is expected to largely boost the RLS-powered NYT’s numbers and allow it to possibly surpass StreetEasy’s numbers eventually.

StreetEasy, in response, stated that it “won’t accept” REBNY’s RLS feed. This move, however, received backlash from residential firms that were frustrated by the site’s extra fees. Brokerages such as Compass, Town Residential, Brown Harris Stevens and Stribling have decided to place their listings exclusively at the RLS. Some of the city’s biggest firms, such as Corcoran and Douglas Elliman, however, will continue to maintain usage of StreetEasy, especially since they’ve made deals that allowed their brokers to list their properties for free.

The RLS data will be featured live in the Times by early October.