American real estate giant CoStar has announced that it is to work with the Real Estate Board of New York to build out a broker-backed rival to Zillow's StreetEasy portal.
The new portal is to be named Citysnap and is slated to be available to the public by Q2 of 2022. Citysnap is being developed by Homesnap, a company that was bought by CoStar for $250 million in November of 2020.
New York City's residential real estate market is unlike the rest of the country in that the National Association of Realtors does not have a meaningful presence in the city. Instead, the Real Estate Board of New York is the dominant trade association and unlike the NAR's Broker Public Portal (which is also a collaboration with Homesnap), REBNY did not have a public-facing portal until now.
Citysnap is expected to be much the same in look and feel as the Broker Public Portal which is essentially a collaborative nationwide venture between real estate brokerages and MLSs to provide a consumer-facing home search experience using the same information as the realtors use in the MLS.
Taking data from the Residential Listings Service (similar to the MLS in the rest of the country), Citysnap will have around 40,000 listings from some 12,000 real estate agents representing around 600 brokerages.
The collaboration between Homesnap and REBNY has been something of an open secret for some time and is intended to be a direct competitor of Zillow's specialist New York City portal StreetEasy which has had a fractious relationship with many realtors over a long period.
One feature of the new portal which a CoStar press release was keen to highlight is that the listings on Citysnap will be updated in real-time and plugged into the RLS.
One bone of contention that some city brokerages have had with StreetEasy was the method of inputting and updating listings. While the RLS does syndicate listings with Homes.com, Realtor.com and others, Zillow-owned StreetEasy gets the majority of its listings through individual brokerage feeds.
Following a company line that has been touted ever since CoStar decided to move into the residential sector and take on Zillow is that of the Washington-based company being on the side of the realtors and not 'stealing' their leads. This rhetoric was once again front and center in comments from CoStar CEO and chief Zillow antagoniser Andy Florance who said of Citysnap:
“CoStar Group believes that agents deserve to capture the value of their listings and that consumers should have access to complete, transparent and accurate information. We have a track record of building successful products for the real estate industry, and we are committed to investing the resources needed to make Citysnap successful in the New York City market.
REBNY spent years searching for the right technology partner to help it develop the right product for its members, and we are proud to be creating that product for New York City’s brokers, agents and consumers and to arm New York City with the most comprehensive, accurate and user-friendly home search platform for the area.”
Homesnap's mobile app and technology is highly rated among rank and file American realtors. Zillow has never quite had the same domination in New York City as it does elsewhere and has plenty of new competitors for consumer eyeballs in the market. With the backing of publicly-traded giant CoStar, the goodwill of the dominant agent association and the Homesnap tech team, Citysnap stands a good chance of giving Zillow a headache in the Big Apple.