Redfin, Explained In Cute Little Drawings and a North Carolina Accent

Redfin has been futzing around with videos for years. We all thought a video was the best way to explain how to buy a house online, but nobody wanted to be in one. We experimented with Angela interviewing me at double-speed so that our voices sounded funny; we recorded a screen-capture of a new release of our website set to “I’m Too Sexy,” a song I am listening to right now.

We got interviewed by Robert Scoble, who was so goofy and high-spirited that we all forgot to be nervous, or we leapt into public food-fights with members of the real estate industry or gave a speech on camera talking about this blog. But we never really explained on tape how Redfin works.

Then our fearless engineering leader, Michael Young, saw a Common Craft video, which explains abstruse concepts by animating drawings using paper and string. The style fit us perfectly: low-budget, simple and fun. It was new, but kind of old too.

Next, we’re going to make one of those pop-up stories, where you can pull an arrow to move elements of the drawing around.The two-person team behind the video, Lee and Sachi, cranked this baby out in a couple of weeks. When Lee and Sachi get back from Mexico, we have to give them feedback on the video. Let us know if you have any suggestions on how to make the video better. We hope to get it up on our site in a week or so.

Bonus link: check out our devblog post on why we switched from MySQL to Postgres.


  • becky

    Speaking of North Carolina….when is Redfin going to plant some seeds here? I plan to sell within the next year & a half & would love to be among the first here to use Redfin!

  • Glenn Kelman

    We have to figure that out in the next couple of weeks… no matter what the numbers say, I’m likely to vote for Carolina!!!

  • Marcelo Calbucci

    Brilliant Glenn. This is the best the money can buy.

    A quick feedback on the post. If you read it through certain Feed Readers (like BlogLines), or receive this through email (using FeedBlitz) the embedded video will not appear. So I read the post and kept wondering where is the link for the video? A footnote like “If you don’t see the embedded video go to [Redfin Blog]” (brackets with the hyperlink).

  • Reuben Moore

    From North Carolina: Redfin appears to have tweaked your home touring options, so I for one would welcome you to North Carolina.

    The average home sales price in the Raleigh market is $265,500 and in our entire MLS area, $243,000. And, the buyside commission is more variable (three percent is definitely not a given here). I am curious whether your business model could accommodate this market, even given the obviously lower cost of doing business here.

  • Anthony Longo

    Well done. Sometimes simple really is better!

  • Dee

    As somebody unfamiliar with how Redfin works (and is a very cautious spender), I’ll give you this feedback. When you say the Redfin rep is paid based on customer satisfaction what does that mean for homebuyer? How does this affect the cost of services? Also, why does the buyer get a refund? Why not just deduct that amount from the costs? Other than that, I think the video was great! It explained the proces so clearly and was straight to the point rather than fancy and full of fluff.

  • Glenn Kelman

    Dee, it just means that Redfin agents get a salary + a fairly significant bonus based on their responses to a customer satisfaction survey. The service costs the same regardless of what Redfin pays its agent: we keep one third of the commission, and refund you the other two thirds.

    We can deduct the commission rather than pay a refund, but the seller has to agree to it, which usually isn’t a problem. This is what I would do, because you pay lower taxes. The real reason a lower selling price isn’t the standard situation is that some buyers need help with the downpayment: in other words, they prefer a higher price (which they pay over 30 years) and a refund (which they get at closing).