As an agent with a traditional brokerage I was continually surprised at how much of my job was selling myself instead of selling real estate. Suddenly everyone became a potential and desperately needed paycheck (a great way to alienate friends by the way). Since clients come to Redfin, we don’t have to beg for business and I get to do what I’m best at: selling real estate, advising buyers and sellers, negotiating contracts, and closing deals. I no longer need to waste time, money, or paper sending out mailings that just get thrown away. As a traditional commission-based agent I needed the full commission in order to cover my astronomical marketing expenses and to make up for the many, many hours of driving around buyers that sometimes ended up going elsewhere to buy (ouch!).
The traditional brokerage office atmosphere was dominated by competition and secrecy. Now I’m part of an office where all the agents work cooperatively, pooling resources to better serve clients instead of one where agents work by themselves, for themselves.
One of the greatest benefits of working as a Redfin agent is the security of having a regular paycheck and fantastic medical benefits. Not having to deal with the stress of wondering when my next commission check will come in (or IF it will come in) is priceless. I get a competitive salary with bonuses based on customer satisfaction. Granted, the system isn’t perfect because it can be difficult to gauge accurately customer satisfaction and how it relates to my performance. I have had the painful and seemingly unfair experience of losing bonus money after working with all my heart and soul.
I know, I know, you’re wondering if a Redfin agent makes more or less than a traditional agent. Well…it depends on how successful of a commission-based agent you are. If you are in or near the top one percent, you will likely take a pay cut. However, for most agents, you are very likely to make more at Redfin. As a Redfin agent, I no longer stress about when the next check will come in, how much of it will go to cover broker fees, marketing expenses, and individual medical insurance premiums (ahhhhh). Having said that, many agents here have taken a pay cut because they really believe in the mission and success of this company, plus many of us have stock options.
The biggest dilemma for me in making the leap was if I was willing to give up total control of my schedule. It was hard to move over to a corporate environment and let someone else tell me what hours to work. Because the industry doesn’t traditionally follow a 9-6pm Monday through Friday schedule, I sometimes find myself working a solid 8 or 9 hour day and then going home to continued evening and weekend negotiations.
In the end the deal-sealer was the internal company motto: “Do the right thing.” It is really refreshing and exciting to work for someone who puts doing the right thing above making money. I am not suggesting that all traditional agents are unscrupulous money hungry fiends, in fact I know many who are some of the most genuine and ethical people I know; but sometimes when your livelihood is on the line, doing what pays the bills comes before doing the right thing and I will never have to do that as long as I work at Redfin. Having been here and seen how this business can be so different, I could never go back. How ‘bout you? Have I converted anyone?