The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) recently accused StreetEasy of using “brazen tactics” to steer consumers to agents who advertise on its site — despite a proposed rule that would ban the practice.
In a letter to state regulators, attorneys for REBNY said Premier Agent, the portal’s controversial agent advertising program, “falls woefully short” of pending standards that require third-party websites to make a “clear and conspicuous” reference to the listing agent, and to include the term “advertisement” to denote paid ads.
StreetEasy has failed on both counts, REBNY alleged in a Dec. 15 letter:
“Consumers need to know that Premier Agent is nothing more than a paid-for status and not an indication of the level of service, experience or the personal qualifications of the broker."
The trade group appears to be trying to establish that if the rule were adopted, Premier Agent would be in violation of it. The letter, which was shared with REBNY members, was sent during the public comment period for the proposed regulation. Zillow Group, which owns StreetEasy, has endorsed the new policy.
The rules are the culmination of a two-year probe by state regulators in response to backlash from agents after StreetEasy introduced Premier Agent in 2017. At the time, REBNY said the ad program had caused a “maelstrom” of consumer confusion by making it seem like the advertiser was the home’s listing agent.
State regulators then took an expansive look at not only Premier Agent but all real estate advertising in New York, issuing guidance for who is allowed to advertise properties for sale and how.
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