Dear Real Estate Agents,

Here we go again. Now StreetEasy is confirming it wants to get referral fees on brokers’ commissions.

Surprised? Not really. StreetEasy has already abandoned its core principles, has lost 50% of its rental listings, and is still struggling with Premier Agent.  Oh, and most ironically, its devious plan to make agents pay $333/month to REMOVE the unsought and unwanted Premier Agent feature on their listings is also failing.

So what is StreetEasy to do now? Go directly after broker’s commissions of course.

The Problem When Listing Platforms Collect Referral Fees
If StreetEasy collects referral fees, consumers and agents will have even more reason for distrust.  Think about it.  StreetEasy will be incentivized to push certain listings with agents who have opted into this referral program.  Where does that leave everyone else? Is that what a fair real estate platform is supposed to do?

I am sure some agents will benefit, just as a few Premier Agents have benefited, but this is not good for the industry as a whole that has come to rely on the platform. Still, it is even worse for the consumers who likely will have no idea that StreetEasy will be motivated to push certain listings over others.  It’s repugnant!

Is it even Legal? 
Zillow has been experimenting with something like this around the country, called their “Flex monetization model”.  Yet I have NO idea how they are going to circumvent what I thought was well established NYC law that you had to be a licensed real estate agent to collect a “success fee”.

How can this be legal? StreetEasy is not a licensed broker.  Isn’t this the definition of a “kickback”? What am I missing?

This is just another example of how Zillow/StreetEasy continues to seemingly focus on short term profits over anything else, and its stock continues to fall like a lead balloon. Zillow’s stock is down a whopping 40% in the last 2 months, close to a 3 year low.  No wonder Steve Eisman, one of the top investors of all time (who predicted the financial collapse in 2008) is shorting Zillow’s stock, recently saying: “Zillow has one of the most flawed business models I’ve seen in a very, very long time.”

Leasebreak – like most reputable real estate listings platforms – does not collect referral fees.  Here’s why:

To date, Leasebreak has distributed about 7,000 rental leads to agents through its Special Lead Program, which has spread almost entirely through word of mouth.  However, we don’t collect referral fees from brokers, even though it means we won’t make as much money.  We want to make sure that our platform is always focused on transparency, and being seen as “fair” to all parties.  (You can find out more about the Leasebreak Special Lead Program here)

Let’s work together to ensure the integrity of New York City Real Estate!

Phil Horigan
Leasebreak#1 in shorter term rentals and through our Special Lead Program a great way for agents to get rental exclusives and work with renters
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Philip Horigan is the founder of - a leading marketplace for rentals in NYC, founded in 2013. He launched Frēlē - a more comprehensive NYC rental marketplace - in May 2018 with a 4 point pledge ( Phil has been a New York City real estate agent for 14 years working for some of the top firms in the city. He became an independent broker in early 2017 so that he can focus more on his entrepreneurial endeavors. Phil believes strongly in building businesses in an ethical and transparent way.

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