Zillow Drops Search Fees for NYC Listings Site StreetEasy

All data on StreetEasy.com, the New York City property-listings website, is now viewable for free after parent company Zillow Inc. dropped subscription fees for the service.

Zillow, which bought StreetEasy six months ago, scrapped the site’s “insider accounts” program, which charged users $10 a month, or $100 a year, for some real estate search tools and sales information. Today’s move is part of a redesign that makes more space for “featured listing” advertisements purchased by developers and brokers. Fees also have been eliminated for StreetEasy’s websites dedicated to properties in the Hamptons and northern New Jersey, Susan Daimler, general manager of StreetEasy, said in an interview.

Seattle-based Zillow, operator of a national real estate web service, bought StreetEasy for $50 million in August to expand its reach in New York. The site allows users to view apartments for sale as well as all units that have sold in a given building, how long they were on the market and what kind of discount their owners had to offer to strike a deal. Making search tools free will boost Web traffic and help users better navigate the city’s tight real estate market, Zillow said.

“StreetEasy has an incredible amount of unique and deep data that is easily digestible to the average person,” Daimler said. “Taking down the paywall will make all of that more discoverable and more accessible.”

Home Sales

Homes in Manhattan spent an average of 140 days on the market in January, down from 252 days a year earlier, according to StreetEasy. Sales of condominiums and co-ops jumped 27 percent in the fourth quarter, setting a record for year-end transactions, as the prospect of rising interest rates and prices spurred buyers, appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate reported last month.

Removing subscription fees will appeal to StreetEasy visitors who may have left the site when asked to pay for searches and should encourage people to spend more time combing through the data, Daimler said. StreetEasy users can shop for homes based on commuting times, search for brokers and sign up to receive alerts when new properties hit the market, she said.

StreetEasy has seen its following among brokers and apartment-hunters surge since its debut in 2006. The site had about 1.2 million monthly unique users at the time of Zillow’s acquisition.

Zillow, which had 70 million unique visitors in January, doesn’t break out web traffic or revenue for StreetEasy.

Management Changes

Today’s announcement marked the latest change at StreetEasy since the takeover. Michael Smith, the site’s founder, left his position as chief executive officer in October and became chairman, while Daimler, general manager of Zillow New York, became general manager of StreetEasy. Robin Allstadt, formerly chief operating officer, left StreetEasy that same month.

Sofia Song, the former head of research and communications at StreetEasy, left in December after six years with the company. Last month, she joined Urban Compass, a New York real estate technology and sales company founded in 2012, in a similar role.

Zillow also today reported fourth-quarter net income of $2.7 million, or 6 cents a share, up from $549,000, or 2 cents, a year earlier. Revenue increased 70 percent to $58.3 million.

Shares of Zillow, with a market value of about $3.5 billion, rose 2.7 percent to $89.85 today. They have more than quadrupled since the company’s July 2011 initial public offering.