The REBNY Listing Service, commonly known as the REBNY RLS, is the de facto Multiple Listing Service (MLS) in New York City.
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.
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.
REBNY 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 Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors (HGAR) is a very professionally run organization that hosts the Hudson Gateway MLS (HGMLS) which covers must of the Hudson Valley above Manhattan. The HGMLS covers Westchester, Bronx, Orange, Putnam, Queens, Dutchess, Ulster, Rockland and Sullivan Counties. Furthermore, the HGMLS absorbed the fledging Manhattan Association of Realtors (MANAR) which operated the Manhattan MLS in 2016.
Just as the Manhattan MLS never posed a challenge to the REBNY RLS due to the failure of larger firms to sign on, the HGMLS as of today still does not pose a serious challenge to REBNY in REBNY’s home turf of Manhattan.
However, the Bronx is more of a free for all with the HGMLS taking a large amount of market share from the Bronx-Manhattan North Association of Realtors (BMAR). REBNY is also quite popular in the southern, developing parts of the Bronx such as Riverdale.
In the east, the REBNY RLS faces stiff competition in much of Queens from the Long Island MLS which covers Nassau, Suffolk and Queens Counties. While REBNY is fairly dominant in the fast developing neighborhood of Long Island City, it faces entrenched opposition from the Long Island Board of Realtors (LIBOR) in the rest of Queens.
REBNY has long been encroaching on Brooklyn 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 is largely confined today to southern Brooklyn.
There is not a lot of crossover or dual membership between REBNY and the Brooklyn MLS, primarily due to the high cost of membership to join the Brooklyn MLS (i.e. having to purchase an equity stake in the Brooklyn MLS in addition to membership dues).
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 members will vigorously refuse to co-broke or split commission with non-members.
Where Can You Search for REBNY NYC Listings?
The REBNY RLS does not have a public portal like other MLS systems where consumers can search for listings directly. The RLS New York operates like the hub of a wheel. Data is sent back and forth from brokers who interface with the RLS either through third party data vendors like Perchwell, Nestio or RealtyMX, or through in-house systems such as Taxi and Limo. Data is sent to public search websites such as the New York Times, StreetEasy, Zillow and Homes.com either from the RLS NYC, or directly from the RLS vendors.
As a result, the only way for home buyers to do a MLS search NYC is through public property search websites such as the New York Times or Agorafy. It is quite unusual that REBNY has not taken the time to invest in a public property search portal that most regional MLS systems have.
In other regions, consumers will often search directly on the local MLS website as it will obviously have the freshest and most accurate data by virtue of it being the source of the data.
In New York City, consumers have no way to search the REBNY RLS directly, but must rely on either their buyer’s agent to send them listings, or search on third party consumer property portals like Zillow or Trulia.
Even though these third party websites do their best to maintain data integrity, there will always inaccuracies and stale listings. This is partly because of data feed errors since these public search websites receive listings via a feed from either the RLS or RLS vendors.
However, this is also partly because the REBNY RLS is actually quite lax in terms of enforcement of data quality.
Even though REBNY’s rules and its Universal Co-Brokerage Agreement are very strict in language, actual enforcement is quite lax much to the relief of its members.
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.
Can I List My Home on the REBNY RLS For Sale By Owner?
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 only on the RLS NYC through an Agent Assisted FSBO, otherwise known as a flat fee MLS listing in NYC.
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. Best of all, because our partner brokers are all full service, brand name, traditional brokerages, no one will know that you’re getting a better deal!
Have more questions? Ask us anything on Hauseit’s Forum – where New Yorkers come together to discuss buying and selling real estate!
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. You should consult your own tax, legal, financial and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction. The services marketed on Hauseit.com are provided by licensed real estate brokers and other third party professional service providers. Hauseit LLC is not a licensed real estate broker nor a member of any multiple listing service (MLS).