How Redfin & Waterless Toilets Are Alike

We found a flick about us on YouTube in which a guy by the name of Joel manages to bring together water closets and real estate. At first we thought this was a secret test by our beloved Marketing department trying out our first TV spot. But then it dawned on us that Eric Heller and Glenn Kelman are on vacation. This is for real.

We liked how Joel compared plumbers and real estate agents. We have often made a similar reference to booksellers. When (where several Redfinnians worked in a prior life) launched its website in 1995 and received immediate and widespread attention, the bookstore owners cried foul. The press talked about the demise of the old-fashioned bookstore. Some bookstores that could barely support themselves were crushed by and similar online plays.

However, the viable bookstores are thriving. Some of our all-time favorites include Elliot Bay Books in Seattle, Kepler’s in Menlo Park, or the famous City Lights bookstore in San Francisco. Not to mention Powell’s in Portland, which now has a booming online presence on In addition to these tried-and-true booksellers, created a new breed (and a new generation) of penny-booksellers. Their business model is to give away books they get for free and charge only for handling and shipping. They make $1 per order on the handling.

Book shoppers now have a choice — buy the book new for a discount, or, used at a rock-bottom price. Get the personalized advice from the good ol’ book store keeper, or the power of customer feedback. Almost everyone wins. We believe the business of real estate will change in similar ways.

We’re just not quite ready to accept that waterless toilets with a composting bin underneath are the wave of the future. Joel has started to convince us though.

Sebastian and Rob


  • Robbie

    I should note my current day job has waterless urinals (see for makes & models) in the building. And to be honest, I’m a beliver in them. I’m still not ready for waterless toilets though.

  • Simon
  • Joel Dale

    Well this is funny. I’m the guy who did the video article you linked to in your blog. It generated some attention and I was telling my producer to contact Redfin maybe they’d find it interesting. It seems I was right, just a week too slow in the uptake.

    I heard your CEO on NPR with John Moe. He represented himself and Redfin very well I think. Word has it some real estate agent wants to come on my news program to give his side of things.

    Now – to the urinals…

    Here’s the downside I’ve found to the waterless urinal – The Seattle Center has them on all the floors. On the main floor it gets a lot more traffic. Since it requires special cleaners, on heavy use days, the bathroom takes on an unpleasant odor. I like the waterless urinals but there is that smell and need for more frequent cleaning. So take the good with the bad. No matter what it’s better than what conservationist friends of mine do which is just flush less frequently at home. Yeah… I don’t find that pleasant.

    Go waterless and go Redfin. I’m like your new spokesperson.