Good News for People Who Like Bad News (Redfin Upgrade is Working)

We waste a lot of time at Redfin trying to predict the future. Every business does I guess, but the speculation at a startup is especially poignant because the future is where you’ve pinned all your hopes.

When we launched the big upgrade to our home-buying service, with unlimited home tours, agent choice and a higher price, we figured offer volumes would initially fall through the floor, only to build back up after people had worked their way through a longer (but better!) process.

What the Data Tells Us
What really happened was much better. The table below compares Redfin’s performance before and after the big upgrade, comparing two 18-day periods that started on a Friday and ended on a Monday.

Activity 10.17 – 11.3 (Before) 11.7 – 11.24 (After) Difference
Clients Requesting Tours 719 649 -70
Clients Submitting Offers or Listings to Redfin 246 201 -45
Clients Engaging a Redfin Agent 0 122 +122
Client Engaging Us on Several Fronts 106 165 +59
Totals 1,071 1,137 +66 (+6.2%)

Each row counts the number of clients who engage only in tours or only in offers, with the second-to-last row tallying up the folks who got a combo (tour and then offer, engage an agent and then request a tour). The bottom line shows that the total number of clients engaged with Redfin increased by 66 or 6.2%. Comparing those same two periods, website visits were up only 2.55%, so the new program definitely converts better.

We were delighted to see that offer volumes hardly dropped at all, particularly since all our agents are saying the launch has significantly increased offer quality (it will take a few weeks to measure how many offers shake out but prior to the big upgrade a lot of people sent us born-to-lose offers, just as a way to be able to talk to someone and see what we were like). We have no idea why tour requests would drop, except perhaps because of the holidays; we still expect the number of clients touring with us to increase significantly.

But the small decreases in tours and offers were more than offset by 122 people using our website to engage a Redfin agent to guide them through the rest of the process. In the past 18 days, another 59 clients engaged us and have also already gone on a tour or made an offer.

What Our Agents Are SayingMark Reitman
Reports from the field have also been good. Marshall Park reported that a couple he met face to face spent “thirty minutes shooting the breeze on offers, the  economy and the northern Virginia market” only to make an offer the next day. Out in LA, Joyti Goundar said pretty much the same thing: “people love the fact that they can send me an email to check status on a property and do some comps so we are prepared before we dive in.”

In Chicago, the ever-thoughtful Mark Reitman reported that “It seems, from the customer perspective, everyone loves the upgrade, without any hesitation about the new pricing structure.”

Of course no one is counting any chickens before they hatch. We can’t judge the upgrade a total success until some folks come out the other end. But we’re tentatively happy at how things have turned out so far.

Any folks who have actually used the new service,  please let us know what you think! And Happy Thanksgiving!