The (Emotional) Ups & Downs of Real Estate

BusinessWeek published today an article on the ups and downs of real estate that turned out to be, as much as anything, an exquisitely sensitive investigation into the psychology of real estate. The article brimmed with ideas about “castle thinking” and “the tangibility fallacy” that made me realize how real estate is for most of us at the emotional nexus of freedom and stability, a coming-of-age rite, a ward against transience, a struggle to take our place in the world. A Berkeley friend told me when she bought her first house that she worried about its being left outside alone all night.

Maybe I’ve gotten all touchey-feeley about real estate because here at Redfin we’ve started to see a lot of buyers close on properties, some first-time buyers, often after missing on their first tries with us. It had never occurred to me in launching Redfin Direct that people would come to our office to join in on the negotiations, or that it would be so hard not to smile when we saw them win. I especially like the colorful ones: the lady who brought her pre-adolescent son in to translate, the home-investor who wanted “a freaking plaque” for being the first one to make an offer online.

In other news, Redfin also showed up in BusinessWeek, in a discussion on how the brokerage industry is changing. A blog posting elaborating on the article mentioned that a quarter of buyers find their homes online, without any help from an agent whatsoever. We wondered how much higher would that percentage be if customers paid a lower price depending on their level of self-sufficiency?