Evan, one of several old roommates who still put me up on visits to San Francisco, is perhaps the most dignified person I know. He has the deep, resonant voice of a Jewish Darth Vader, and the oddly punctuated speech of Christopher Walken. He rarely blinks and when he does, it seems like an important decision. His smile is friendly but also somehow knowing.
So when I spied Evan scurrying across a rainy SOMA street last month, it was almost a relief. “Look at Evan,” I said to another roommate. “What’s he doing out in the rain?”
“Going to another open house,” the roommate replied. “Didn’t you hear? Evan’s a die-hard Redfin fanatic.” Then the next sentence made my heart stop. “He’s always trying to get into listings.”
That Evan might have to worry about how to tour a house he wanted to buy worried me. We knew already that our customers needed broader property access, and had thought out loud about different approaches to the problem (which also includes one of my favorite exchanges between commenters, about the difference between proctology and colo-rectal surgery), but seeing someone struggling in the wild was a fresh outrage all the same.
Now, at last, after several improvements to tours already, the outrage is over. Thanks to the crusading efforts of Michael Young (especially), Scott Nagel, Marcella Branniff, Ellie Wilkinson, Bryan Selner, Marni Buchanan, Josh Sanders and many others, Redfin is now offering a premium home-buying service, which lets our clients tour homes to their heart’s content. The name of the service is Redfin Select.
With Select, we take you on tour twice a week, every week, until you find a home. When you do, we give you a 50% commission refund, which is usually worth $7,500 on a $500,000 home.
The commission refund is a tad smaller than the 67% we offer the clients of our original online home-buying service, Redfin Direct. But 50% tax-free is by any measure a whopping check at closing, and scotching the anxiety about how you get into a property is , for many clients, priceless. Now you have no excuse not to buy through Redfin…
Clients can enroll in Select by signing up for a home tour and getting the forms from the field agent; you can also get the forms by emailing select (at) redfin (dot) com. The forms don’t obligate you to work with Redfin, but they do help us remember who gets 50% and who gets 67% back at closing. And since Redfin Direct itself offers two free tours (and the ability to buy more at $250 a pop) there’s no need to decide between Select or Direct until after the first two tours.
As you may have surmised already, this isn’t an official launch. We haven’t rented any camels or biplanes or aging rock stars to launch Redfin Select, because we’re only taking 20 clients at first, so we can be sure to have enough tours to go around for everybody, even on short notice. The trial period will last a month or more, albeit with more and more clients.
This means that Redfin Select will only be available in a limited area — Seattle, Bellevue, Mercer Island, Redmond, Kirkland — at first, but we hope to expand the service over the summer to other markets. To do that, we need to build a better application for scheduling home tours, for us and for our field agents, which we’ll bundle with lots of improvements to how Redfin handles your favorite listings.
For now, let us know what you think of the service, and thanks for all the ideas so far. To learn more about Select, read on…
(Camel photo credit: Iqbal on Flickr)
Bonus link: live tape of 20 centimeter worm found in woman’s gut, not for faint of heart.