Welcome to Redfin’s blog, a forum to discuss Redfin, Web start-ups and real estate!
As you’ve probably heard, this week we’re launching Redfin Direct, an online service for buying a home and getting a commission refund, usually equal to two percent of the home’s selling price.
Redfin Direct has been up since Wednesday, January 25. We’re also continuing to connect people seeking traditional service with a partner agent through Redfin Connect. Demand for our partner agents increased 35% the week that Direct became available, suggesting that as Redfin grows, both choices will be popular.
But Redfin Direct is what everyone is talking about. It took us months to pull together. The hardest parts were getting everything legal and easy to understand, and figuring out what people wanted.
We ran two focus groups, and surveyed people online with Zoomerang.com (a very useful tool for start-ups). The survey sample sizes are rinky-dink, nearly 100 respondents total, but the results are still interesting: 83% of our customers were unaffiliated with an agent; 58% percent were “very interested” in an online offer-making service.
What was most surprising is that survey respondents didn’t feel like they needed much help finding a property to buy, which is how traditional agents spend most of their time once they get a client. What customers valued most was the support to figure out a fair price and make a winning offer.
So that’s what we focused on. We used to worry that Direct customers needed a private tour from their own agent, but now we mostly want to make sure they win the home and close without a hitch. This realization meant we had to change up our plans last November, and focus on hiring and training Direct agents who could offer great support from offer to close.
Friday night, I called the first customer whose offer went through, and understood why real estate agents like their job so much. The customer was elated. And so were we. This is what the Internet is supposed to do.