After clashing repeatedly with Hamptons brokers over the past year, Out East is scrapping its subscription model — which required agents to pay a monthly fee to post listings on the Zillow-owned site.
Starting January 1, agents will be able to use Out East for free, the company said. Previously, Out East charged firms a base monthly fee of $1,000 to $3,000, depending on the size of the brokerage. It also charged a per-agent subscription of $60 per month.
“This shift to free listing entry for all is crucial to creating an inclusive marketplace,” Matt Daimler, Out East’s general manager said in a statement. “It will give more agents the ability to post listings not just on Out East, but ensures their listings will also appear across all of Zillow’s consumer websites.”
But some brokers said the move will pave the way for Zillow to monetize Out East, as it has done with StreetEasy, by introducing Premier Agent and other advertising programs. In addition to Premier Agent, which generates buyer-leads for agents who advertise, StreetEasy’s new Experts program puts agent contact info alongside building descriptions where they’ve done at least one transaction.
“A free Out East is essentially a Trojan horse,” said Andrew Saunders, founder of Hamptons-based Saunders & Associates, who said he cancelled his company’s contract with Out East. “If New York is the model, there will come a moment in time when [Out East] be charging folks,” Saunders said. “We won’t be drawn into that framework.”
A Zillow spokesman didn’t deny or confirm the portal’s plans. “While nothing is set yet, we’ll likely be moving toward an advertising model in the future,” said Viet Shelton, a Zillow spokesman."
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