What Is the REBNY RLS Listing Service in NYC?

The REBNY Residential Listing Service, also known as the REBNY RLS, is the de facto Multiple Listing Service (MLS) in New York City. The RLS broker database contains sale and rental listings being marketed by agents and brokerages who are members of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY).

First time home sellers or newly licensed agents will typically begin their search for the Manhattan Multiple Listing Service or the Multiple Listing Service of New York, but they always arrive at the conclusion that the MLS in Manhattan is the REBNY RLS.

Table of Contents:

Why is the REBNY RLS not a MLS?

The REBNY RLS is not technically a MLS because REBNY (The Real Estate Board of New York) seceded from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) in 1994.

A MLS is a broker to broker shared listings database operated by a local Realtor association.

However, real estate agents in New York who are members of REBNY are not called Realtors, which is a trademarked designation for agents who are NAR members.

As a result, the REBNY RLS is not technically a MLS, but rather a private, inter-broker shared listings database for REBNY residential brokers and agents.

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REBNY RLS vs MLS in New York City

The REBNY RLS faces varying degrees of competition in New York City from other regional MLS systems.

For example, the OneKey MLS covers Long Island and the Hudson Valley in addition to NYC. OneKey is a partnership between the Long Island Board of Realtors (LIBOR) and the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors (HGAR).

Prior to the creation of the OneKey MLS in 2020, HGAR operated the Hudson Gateway MLS (HGMLS) which covered most of the Hudson Valley above Manhattan. This included Westchester, Bronx, Orange, Putnam, Queens, Dutchess, Ulster, Rockland and Sullivan Counties.

In 2016, the HGMLS absorbed the fledging Manhattan Association of Realtors (MANAR) which operated the Manhattan MLS.

Prior to the creation of the OneKey MLS, LIBOR operated the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island (MLSLI). This database covered Nassau, Suffolk and Queens Counties.

In Manhattan, the OneKey MLS does not pose a serious challenge to the RLS.

In Queens, RLS faces stiff competition from the OneKey MLS. While REBNY RLS is fairly dominant in the fast developing neighborhood of Long Island City (LIC), it faces entrenched opposition from OneKey in the rest of Queens. If you’re selling in Queens, it’s important to have your home listed in both RLS and the OneKey MLS.

Bronx is more of a free for all in terms of the competition between RLS and the OneKey MLS.

REBNY is quite popular in the southern, developing parts of the Bronx such as Riverdale. However, OneKey recently strengthened its hand through the 2020 merger of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors and the Bronx-Manhattan North Association of Realtors (BMAR).

In Brooklyn, REBNY has been gaining considerable market share as its member firms have expanded into the borough along with the gentrification wave that has swept over the borough in the past few decades.

The Brooklyn MLS still exists, but it is largely confined to southern Brooklyn. There is not a lot of crossover or dual membership between REBNY and the Brooklyn MLS due to the historically high cost of joining the Brooklyn MLS. Prior to 2018, brokerages were required to purchase a $20,000 share of stock in the Brooklyn MLS in order to join.

Staten Island is a whole different ecosystem, and the REBNY RLS has virtually no presence in this most remote of NYC’s boroughs. Staten Island is still dominated today by the Staten Island MLS, and many of its member agents will vigorously refuse to co-broke or split commission with non-members.

Where Can You Search for REBNY RLS Listings?

Consumers will soon be able to search for REBNY RLS sale and rental listings via Citysnap. Citysnap, which is being developed by a partnership between REBNY and Homesnap, is scheduled to launch in the second quarter of 2022.

Prior to the advent of Citysnap, the REBNY RLS did not have a consumer-facing search portal like other MLS systems throughout the country.

The lack of a consumer-facing search portal for RLS was rather inexplicable and arguably made it possible for StreetEasy to achieve total hegemony over the residential real estate search landscape in NYC.

From an operational standpoint, REBNY RLS  operates like the hub of a wheel. Data is sent back and forth from brokers who interface with the RLS either through third party software vendors like Perchwell, Nestio or RealtyMX, or through in-house brokerage systems such as Taxi and Limo.

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How to Join The REBNY Listing Service

Access to the REBNY RLS is strictly limited to member firms and their respective agents.

To join REBNY, the Broker of Record (i.e. Principal Broker) of the applying firm must fill out a lengthy application, pay hefty dues and also receive the signatures of endorsement of two existing member firm principal brokers.

This requirement of written endorsement from the heads of two member firms is a tough hurdle for many new companies to pass.

Furthermore, the Broker of Record of the applying firm must also attend an in-person introduction and ethics course at REBNY headquarters before membership is granted.

After the new firm has achieved membership status, all of its agents must also join REBNY and pay their individual member dues. There is a regular audit by REBNY to make sure that all associated agents of a firm are members of REBNY and have paid their dues.

Any firm that does not comply and enforce membership on all of its agents may have its access to the REBNY RLS revoked.

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Can I List FSBO on the REBNY RLS?

The RLS NYC is meant for member firms and agents only, and is not accessible by the general public.

As a result, you cannot post your home For Sale By Owner on the REBNY RLS. However, it is possible to offer commission to buyers’ agents on the RLS NYC through an Agent Assisted FSBO, otherwise known as a Flat Fee MLS Listing in NYC.

In an Agent Assisted FSBO listing, you can list your home on the RLS and dozens of popular websites like StreetEasy all at once for a nominal flat fee.

You’ll only pay a small, one time flat fee upfront to list the property, and you’ll only owe the commission you decide to offer to buyers’ agents if you close with a represented buyer. If you find a direct buyer, you’ll have saved all 6% in typical NYC broker commissions!

Besides the ease and convenience of listing your property everywhere all at once, the benefit of an Agent Assisted FSBO is full access to the 90% of buyers who are represented by agents.

Once your listing is in the RLS NYC, all REBNY member agents will see the contractual offer of commission (i.e. co-broke) and show your listing to their buyers.

How do you represent your role as the seller in an Agent Assisted FSBO? Learn more in our guide on how to deal with buyers’ agents in NYC.

Disclosure: Hauseit® and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal, financial or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal, financial or accounting advice. No representation, guarantee or warranty of any kind is made regarding the completeness or accuracy of information provided.

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