The Little Website That Could

Like a hideously tortured beast finally broken free of its chains, Redfin’s engineering team has been on the rampage this winter, releasing the second major upgrade to our site in just the past 45 days.

This one features Listing Metrics, a dashboard for Redfin customers selling their house to see whether their listing is getting more traffic than other properties in the neighborhood, and where that traffic is coming from. The dashboard also shows neighborhood inventory levels, and whether average days on market is increasing or decreasing for the area.
glenpark1.jpg
Ever since it got harder to sell homes last fall, we’ve tried to dig up more data on what works, first with the Real Estate Scientist report, and now with these dynamic metrics. Customers can check the graphs to see which marketing efforts generate web traffic, and to understand supply and demand in their neighborhood. We’ve also included prices for homes that recently sold in the neighborhood, and links and photos for comparable properties currently on the market.

It’s good stuff. Greg Swann at Bloodhound Blog has already asked why we wouldn’t share this page with everyone, and I did too when I first saw the prototype. But we first conceived the feature-set within the commerce group, which is responsible for supporting customers involved in a transaction, so we didn’t have enough time to work out how to show Listing Metrics in Redfin’s search experience.

Hopefully we will soon. The whole idea behind our strategy of Freakish Depth is that doing deals can give us market insights to share with everyone. As Redfin CTO Michael Young explains in today’s press release, “our website makes our business model possible by automating key tasks, but our business model is also what gives us the deep data access we need to build a better site.” We think it’s hard to build a good search site if you aren’t up to your knees in deals.

Which brings us to what we did with search in this release. Probably most important for our home-buyers is that you can now see open-house information on our map, and subscribe to listings just as you subscribe to this blog. Making it easy to find open houses is important because, notwithstanding Redfin’s new tours policy, so many of our customers see properties that way.
open-houses2.jpg
Adding RSS was also a big emotional win, since we’d been pushing it into “the next release” for two years. Finally Michael Smedberg and Matt Goyer couldn’t take it anymore, and rallied to cram it in. We encourage all you bloggers to grab a feed, and widgetize it.

rss1.jpg

Or you can just embed listing results in your favorite feed-reader:

netvibes1.jpg

Finally, we added to the site estimates from Cyberhomes, owned by title insurance giant Fidelity National Financial. It’s sort of fun to compare Cyberhomes’ numbers to those of Zillow and eppraisal.com: Zillow is almost always the lowest, and eppraisal.com is usually the highest.

cyberhomes1.jpg

And so where does that leave us? Exhausted, Matt Goyer says. But also happier than this team has ever been with our site. Redfin is the only national player to crack Joel Burslem’s list of “kick ass real estate search sites.” And while we’re still small potatoes compared to the truly national sites, traffic has increased 88% since December. We’ve got plenty of other challenges, but they’re easier to solve when there’s lots of people using Redfin.com. Enjoy! And let us know what you think…

Bonus link: in our devblog, the Great Smedberg writes on how to search Redfin from Internet Explorer or Firefox. Next up on the devblog, we’ll explain how we went about choosing a content management system, also live in this release…

Discussion