I remember exactly where I was when I got the news that the Boston-area MLS — the database that brokers use to share listings — would allow Redfin to drop its registration requirement: sitting at my desk, reading ESPN.com while I fondled a Rubik’s cube (world record for solving, 9.86 seconds).
I remember running down a hallway and bursting through the double doors of a closed conference room to tell all the Redfin bigshots the big news. Our dignified compliance manager, Mary Black, flushed with an unholy glow, had somehow gotten there ahead of me.
And now, hardly a week later, Redfin has shipped a new version of its site that lets Boston real estate consumers use Redfin the way everyone else does: without having to register your name or email address. This means consumers can get all the information about Boston-area homes for sale without wondering when a real estate agent will call, or getting buried in spam.
Why Registration Is a Big Deal
Why is registration such a big deal? Well, imagine if you had to register with Google before you ran a search. And imagine if Google was in an industry notorious for using that information to strap you into a gigantic drip-marketing system?
You would say what most Boston-area consumers have said to our website: no thanks. The graph below, taken from yesterday’s presentation to Redfin’s board, shows the results. Boston traffic is the green line, which after a year of toodling along, just got passed by Chicago (orange line) in its second month of operations. Pathetic!
But that’s all going to change. Now that we’re the first site to offer complete registration-free access to all the MLS homes for sale, we hope that our Boston traffic will shoot through the roof, and that our business there will too. We’re gearing up a big marketing campaign next week.
Many thanks to Kathy Condon, John Breault and the entire MLS Property Information Network Board for taking such a huge step forward.
What Does This Mean? The Big Picture
A long time ago, Redfin made a big bet that we could work within the system as a broker, showing all the homes for sale even as we changed how consumers worked with a Realtor and what they had to pay. For years that was a crazy bet. Maybe it still is.
But we’re seeing MLSs across the country negotiate a truce between brokers of all stripes so consumers can get more information about listings. That’s good for consumers, good for Redfin and, at a time when people have wondered whether MLSs and brokers would change with the times, good for the industry too.
Redfin Boston supporters, spread the word!!! And gentle Redfin blog readers, what do you think? Is the Boston-area MLS decision part of a bigger trend? We’ll keep you posted on what happens to Boston traffic.