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Street fight: CoStar’s Citysnap to take on Zillow June 30

The product claims to provide a broker-friendly alternative to Zillow's StreetEasy

The winds of change are blowing in New York City: On June 30 the way real estate brokers, agents and home shoppers find property for sale in New York City will change forever.

Or not.

That Thursday is when commercial real estate listings titan CoStar and the Real Estate Board of New York, a trade group representing New York City agents and brokerages, will roll out Citysnap. The name is a play on words of Homesnap, the MLS-compatible brokerage app CoStar acquired in 2020. CoStar positioned the website and app to challenge Zillow-owned StreetEasy as the go-to listings service in the Big Apple.

Unlike almost every other U.S. market, New York real estate professionals tend not to rely on Multiple Listings Services feeds. Instead, brokers mainly feed listings to StreetEasy, a website Zillow acquired in 2014.

StreetEasy, to some brokers’ chagrin, charges listing fees and uses Zillow’s Premier Agent, in which buyer’s agents pay Zillow to pop up as points of contact.

CoStar CEO Andy Florance has indicated Citynsap will not charge for all listings, but it will offer brokers the option to pay for prominent placing. Also, Florance has said Citysnap will not generate revenue by selling ads to buyer’s agents.

Instead, Citysnap is to operate based on the mantra, “Your listing, your lead,” with an initial focus on Manhattan.

“We have been working hard over the last eight months to develop a first-class product customized for Manhattan,” said a Citysnap spokeswoman. “The past several months has been dedicated to development and marketing, and we’re thrilled to be launching a product that addresses all the pain points that come with searching for a home in New York City.”

The Citysnap roll out comes during a tumultuous time for real estate in New York City and the country, as interest rates rise and the stock market rockets up and down. New York-based Compass, which has become the top brokerage in the country based on 2021 sales volume, laid off 450 people earlier this week.

At times Florance has been aggressive in marketing this Zillow competitor, throwing a party at the National Association of Realtor’s annual meeting in San Diego and declaring: “Zillow is no longer a relevant player.”

But Citysnap currently does not seem to be the talk of the town.

“No one has brought it up and I haven’t seen anything online,” said Jonathan Miller, real estate appraiser for Miller Samuel. “That’s not a good sign if they want to win over the consumer.”

Frederick Peters, president of Coldwell Banker Warburg and a member of the Real Estate Board of New York’s executive committee, noted Citysnap has not exactly conducted a publicity sweep.

“Probably not enough people know about it,” Peters said. “But once it actually appears and people are using it, then I promise you everyone will know about it in a hurry.”

A spokeswoman for StreetEasy noted the website has not made any alterations in anticipation of Citysnap.

Citynsap has branded itself as agent-friendly because it features only the listing agent’s name on the posting. On the other hand, StreetEasy argues Premier Agent is consumer-friendly. That’s because, the argument goes, StreetEasy encourages consumers to connect with a buyer’s agent who is not also the listing agent, thereby representing seller and buyer.  

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