Recidivist Miscreant Posts About Redfin Search Options on Bloodhound Blog

“Did hell just freeze over?” Redfin’s Bryan Selner asked me late last night. For a moment, I thought someone at Redfin had spontaneously washed the dishes.

But Bryan was talking about Redfin’s posting yesterday on Bloodhound, one of the largest Realtor blogs, about which of our site’s search filters are most popular, and which filters we should do next.

Who knows what possessed me to choose this post as our first on Bloodhound. What shocked everyone at Redfin was that Bloodhound would let us post anything at all. I’d forgotten that Bloodhound bloggers had only last year called me “an oily liar” and “a low-level con man.”

At a time when Redfin had every Realtor up in arms, it was the quality of these insults that stood out: phrases like “recidivist miscreant” and my personal favorite, “rotarian socialist,” made everyone else seem half-hearted and dull.

And so I began reading. And then to appreciate Bloodhound’s point of view — even if I disagreed with it. What I got from the blog was how to be a better citizen within the real estate community: no less opinionated, but less self-righteous. We eventually apologized, awkwardly, for how we’d talked about the real estate industry.

Then to our surprise, Bloodhound sent us an invitation to their conference, and after that, a WordPress log-in. It seems that what we liked about Bloodhound, Bloodhound liked about us: we both love to let the fur fly, sort of like Mary Matalin and James Carville.

This new tone doesn’t mean Redfin has gone soft on our consumer advocacy. We’ve just gotten better at it — fighting off anti-rebate laws, publishing for-sale-by-owner listings, offering more analytics — without disrespecting others in real estate.

Thanks to Bloodhound for giving us a chance. And Redfin readers, please let us know what search filters you’d like to see next: parking, townhouses, pools? Or other features, like drawing your own neighborhood outlines on our map?

Photocredit: Flangum on Flickr


  • Greg Swann

    You’re a fine writer with a fine mind, Glenn, the equal of any baying hound. Your initial post drew over 40 comments in the first day, a signal achievement.

    > like drawing your own neighborhood outlines on our map

    We have this in our new MLS system — and in FBS Systems’ IDX system. Multiple, non-contiguous irregular polygons, so you can do something like within-walking-distance-of-Spellman-HS OR within-walking-distance-of-bus-routes-leading-to-Spellman-HS. Totally rocks. It’s by far the best way of isolating homes by location, since you don’t have to trust anyone’s typing (too much).

    I’ll give you a feature: Intersection of multiple searches, or perhaps weighting by intersection. So: I do a series of saved searches, each one isolating for certain characteristics I want. At the end, I select the intersection of the specified searches. The resulting short list is either a list of the homes that scored on all searches, or perhaps a weighted short list with those that scored on the most searches showing up first. I kindasorta like the weighted search on, except that you can end up looking at homes that are missing a must-have feature. Using multiple either/or searches then weighting them post hoc might be more satisfying. And think how easy it will be to document! ;)

  • Sean

    It’s probably somewhat poor form to respond to the Bloodhound post over here, but I read this blog regularly and I don’t read Bloodhound…

    I spend a LOT of time searching for real estate, both on Redfin and other sites (mostly for markets you guys don’t cover). It’s kind of a weird hobby of mine. Don’t laugh. Anyway, even though I am relatively specific in what I’m looking for, I don’t tend to use the advanced filters much. Most often, I search by bedrooms, bathrooms and price (both max and min). Those aren’t the only factors that matter to me, but they’re the only ones that I can easily capture in a search.

    For example, I don’t want a house that was built in the 1950s *unless* it’s been nicely updated. A year search eliminates a bunch of houses I don’t want to see, but it also eliminates some I’d like. There’s no “any year as long as it’s nicely updated” checkbox (and if there were, I wouldn’t trust it because there’s no way the data could be truly reliable).

    I love views, but “has view” is horribly subjective, and there are other things that could make up for the lack of a view. So I don’t want to eliminate houses that aren’t marked as having a view.

    Square footage and lot size are important to me, and I do use those filters from time to time, but I don’t trust the data very much. Square footage is notoriously inaccurate in listings, and a huge lot that’s on a very steep grade is less desirable than a smaller flat lot.

    Also, criteria may differ based on location, even within a single search area. For example, I may know that the ca. 1960s houses in a certain subdivision are horrible and I don’t want to look at them, but the ca. 1960s houses four blocks away have potential.

    The bottom line is that it’s all about tradeoffs, and those are extremely hard to represent in search filters. So I end up putting in my absolute minimum criteria (I need X bedrooms no matter what, and there’s no way I can pay more than Y), and I manually evaluate the rest. Adding filters reduces the amount of junk I have to look at, but it also presents a significant risk of eliminating something I’d love. False positives are better than false negatives.

    All that said, frankly, I think that you should offer filters for every field you have in your database. So what if only .5% of your users take advantage of it? For those users, it could be a killer feature. Just keep all the complexity hidden until people specifically go looking for it.

  • NWChris

    We used Redfin all the time when we were researching areas to consider relocating to. One search I was wanting to do was houses within a certain school district, or even within one particular school’s boundries.

  • Brian Brady

    You knocked it out of the park with that post, Glenn. If the only prerequisite was a maniacal fervor to make this industry better, you qualified years ago; we just had to work through some differences!

    I’m proud and honored to type alongside you.

    PS to the readers: Glenn’s too modest to tell you how he did at the conference. He outlined the Redfin business plan…to competitors (no less) and was swamped after his presentation with adulating praise and good questions.