Only Weirdos Need Apply…

We released a new version of our site today, which features message boards for Redfin’s fanatical community of real estate do-it-yourselfers. There’s also a dog’s breakfast of other features: a re-write of listing updates (which occasionally went haywire), and the ability to search by lot size, year built and whether a listing is active or already under contract. More search criteria are on the way.
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The message boards are called Redfin Forums. We tried out other names: “The Insider” (too sinister), or “Open Houses” (“come on in!” barf…). Let us know if you have a preference, or a better idea.

We’re pretty sure (correction undoubtedly forthcoming!) that Forums are the first message board run by an actual brokerage, for people deep in a buying or selling frenzy. It has even occurred to us that there’s a reason for this (customers, impostors, saboteurs!) could trash our service. But nobody thinks we’re perfect as it is, and our premise all along has been that if everyone knew everything about us, we’d have more business. We’ll soon find out.

What made us feel like we had to do this is Redfin’s customer community, which is its own thing, special, weird and precious to us. You get us out of bed in the morning, even for releases like this one, which for silly reasons that are mostly my fault, was hard on all of us.

It seems like the other boards out there are for consumers to ask real estate agents a question, not for consumers to connect with one another. And then there is the matter of what kind of consumers are on Redfin’s site: the ones creating late-night traffic eruptions; challenging anti-Redfin blog commenters with questions about whether they graduated from high school; submitting brilliant, off-the wall ideas for improving our site; rioting when we canceled Sweet Digs’s independent property reviews, which we hope will make a come-back of sorts here.

Probably because of some failure in crossing-the-chasm marketing, Redfin’s user-base reminds me of the people I used to meet at chess tournaments: smarter than I am, intensely competitive but also oddly eager to help, obsessive-compulsive, sleep-deprived, a little goofy.
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Here are the major Redfin types:
–> Deal sharpies who ask us for a recommended list of mortgage brokers and then ask if we’ve been paid off (we haven’t).
–> Developers who send us Javascript bugs they found using Firebug.
–> Feisty Mac users who will never forgive us for using Microsoft’s anti-Safari maps (Mike Davidson, please stand up!).
–> Microsoft program managers who want to know why we don’t re-write whole thing in Silverlight (which actually looks pretty sweet and does, in fact, support Safari!)
–> Real estate junkies who start searching other markets for new listings when their own market runs dry.
We’re working on expanding that list, to all the people who wouldn’t talk to us in high school. For now, we hope the folks who do use Redfin will swing by the forums. Perhaps for the first time in your life, you’ll meet people just like you.

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Bonus link from a friend of Redfin:
The first time Vladimir Putin met President Bush’s dog at the White House, the Russian president seemed distinctly unimpressed. When Putin later played host at his dacha outside Moscow, he presented his Labrador to Bush. “Bigger, tougher, stronger, faster, meaner,” Putin boasted, “than Barney.”
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(Mike Young wanted me to change “Weirdos” in the title, to freaks, so it would be “less likely to offend anyone.” We spent a few minutes arguing over whether it was better to be a weirdo or a freak, naming people who were weirdos but not freaks, and vice-versa…)
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Discussion

  • Jerry

    Uhhhh. I give. Why don’t you rewrite the whole thing in Silverlight? It’s faster, better, requires a smaller download than Flash, etc. Can’t be that hard, can it?