Redfin First-to-Know in the Wall Street Journal

Redfin First-to-Know, the service for making offers on homes not on the market, shot to the top of a big D1 article in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal (subscription required).

The overview of the concept mostly featured, which is launching a national home-valuation site similar to Zillow’s. (Like a prehistoric animal that you can’t believe is not only alive but still apparently reproducing, is one of those lead-capture sites that tries to sell you whatever it can, from cars to insurance to financial services.)

The intrepid WSJ reporter got a hold of the enigmatic Finnish entrepreneurs behind Igglo, who claimed their Helsinki site has already facilitated 300 transactions (whoa!) over the past six months. He also somehow managed to find an Albuquerque clothing store owner and an enterprising Baltimore real estate agent who, by handwritten notes left in mailboxes and goofy ads in Jewish newspapers, turned up people willing to sell homes that hadn’t been for sale, which made the story fun to read.

Folks like that are a bit ahead of us. Though Redfin is in the midst of a First-to-Know trial that allows home-owners to open a dialog with Redfin buyers searching on our site, this wouldn’t have been the time we chose to talk to the Wall Street Journal about the idea, because we’re still figuring out how it will take shape on our site. We nonetheless outlined what we know so far:

“Glenn Kelman, Redfin’s CEO, said the company will notify homeowners of potential offers with letters and through its Web site, where people can check whether their properties had attracted any interest. No price has been set for this service yet.

Mr. Kelman hopes to provide enough details about potential buyers, such as how much they have been prequalified to borrow from a mortgage lender, to make their expressions of interest credible.

Redfin also is testing a service that lets homeowners who are thinking about selling notify potential buyers. The owners then might be able to “make a deal without a listing agent, a commission, a yard sign and all that jazz,” Mr. Kelman says.”

Some will bristle at the casual tone, but the point of First to Know is to be more simple and direct, with less formality and friction.

If you’re interested in First-to-Know, just e-mail ftk (@) redfin (dot) com, and we’ll set you up with a notice that goes out to all the people searching in the neighborhood of your property.


  • Ryan James

    When will the First To Know service be online? It sounds like a great addition to your service offering and should generate a lot of attention.


  • patricia

    sounds like a great service you’ve got there. less hassle to the sellers and buyers. i’ll be looking forward to the time that you’ll be able to put that up on your site.

  • Anna

    (Redfin newbie here, just saw the NYTimes article)

    Are you planning on doing anything to support/streamline house ‘trades’?

    (if my parents want to sell their house up here and buy one in your town, and you want to sell yours and buy one up here, and the real estate market’s dead as a doornail…)