Listings Giant StreetEasy Suspends Days On Market Clock During Coronavirus Pandemic
As the New York City real estate market grinds to a halt in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, listings site StreetEasy has stopped the clock counting the days on the market for all sales and rental listings.
The move came after the New York Residential Agent Continuum (NYRAC) sent a letter requesting the freeze, along with a suspension of the $6 daily rental listing rental fee, to the Zillow Group-owned website early last week.
StreetEasy had previously announced that it was cutting its $6 per day rental fee, as well as the price of upgraded advertising, in half, but had not agreed to freezing days the days on market tracker.
On Sunday night, the company sent out an email to brokers saying it had reconsidered and was temporarily replacing the “Days on Market” field with a notice that reads “Counting Suspended.”
“We will revisit our policy and how best to reintroduce accurate Days on Market data once this situation normalizes,” the company said in the email.
NYRAC founding chairwoman Heather McDonough Domi said the group made the request to freeze the clock for listings because it’s an “emotional factor” for sellers.
“This Days On Market has become a real obsession for the consumer and sellers become really focused on that number,” McDonough Domi said. “To have that number keep on ticking, the sellers are feeling added pressure.”
McDonough Domi said that while some brokers have been continuing to try and get business done by virtual showings, closing deals and move-ins will be difficult because many buildings have restricted access to only residents and essential personnel.
“I think that it’s going to pretty much suspend all movement in every segment of the market,” McDonough Domi said.
In the email, the company noted that its analytics show that buyers and renters were still actively searching on StreetEasy.
“We continue to see hundreds of thousands of daily visits from buyers and renters eagerly looking for new homes,” the company wrote. “New Yorkers are still moving. In a survey conducted over the past week, 80% of NYC renters indicated that they still intend to move in Q2. While some plans may be delayed, these renters’ needs are real and urgent, and they can help drive your business.”
On Friday, Viet Shelton, a spokesperson for Zillow, said the company has been willing to provide relief to the agents who rely on the site to market their listings by cutting fees, but would stop short of hiding publicly available information.
“One of our core values at Zillow and StreetEasy is one of ‘turn on the lights,'” Shelton said. “What we mean is transparency of information for consumers, giving them as much information as possible so they can make the best decision for themselves. It’s kind of befuddling to see a request for obfuscating data that’s important for buying a home in New York.”
Jonathan Miller of Manhattan appraisal firm Miller Samuel said that while NYRAC likely made the request with best intentions, he thought that hiding days on market from consumers was a mistake.
“There can never be justification in editing market conditions from the consumer at any time, in any market,” Miller said. “Consumers need to see the good news with the bad news and come to their own conclusions. Market transparency is what everyone should strive for. Their days on market strategy rings familiar to 15 years ago when real estate brokers were the gatekeepers of market information. Those days are long gone.”
The clash was the latest between brokers and the listings giant, coming after years of tension.
NYRAC sent a letter to the Department of State late last year claiming that StreetEasy uses “deceptive” tactics to promote “premier agents” who have paid to advertise on the site, by, for example, displaying a contact form that puts prospective buyers in touch with the premier agent rather than the exclusive listing agent.