Start Spreading the News… Redfin Comes to New York and Sacramento!

Start spreading the news! The Redfin spaceship landed yesterday in Long Island and Westchester County in New York as well as California’s Central Valley, including Sacramento. In one day, we increased our reach by nearly 20% but fell short of conquering the greatest Babylon of them all Manhattan; the brokers there don’t share data with newcomers. Sacramento and Long Island are our first new markets since we opened Chicago last June, and our 10th overall. We’ve got at least three more left in us by year end.

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Why did we start expanding again? Well first of all because we’ve figured out how to open a market using our own agents without spending too much money. Chicago was profitable after an expense of only $50,000. The challenge for Michael Daly, who runs Redfin Long Island, and Chris Diez, our main man in Sacramento, is to beat Mark Reitman, who in his first six months set a new standard for delivering awe-inspiring customer service.

And now to add fuel to the fire, we have a partner network to handle all the outlying areas. Without it, we probably never could have launched the Central Valley south of Sacramento, which has more vegetables than people. We’re using partners to cover Westchester too. Even though we launched yesterday, we’re still recruiting partners who agree to participate in our review system for surveying clients, and who refund 15% of their commission to the consumer.

A Mortgage Calculator!
What about for our loyal fans in existing markets? Well, we’ve got a few goodies for you too. For starters, we added a mortgage calculator. While we were arguing over whether or how to do it, The Great Smedberg just did it. And then we wondered what took us so long. Nice work Michael! And did anyone notice that Navtej Sadhal made it more convenient to access common filters? Usability studies showed us that many people had no idea how to filter on price at all…

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Sale to List Price, Embeddable Charts!
We also upgraded our neighborhood widgets to let you see final-sale-to-list price for every zip code, neighborhood and region. We used a chart control from Google, and it was a bit buggy, but Redfin stats man Mose Andre somehow made it work.

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Now you can also embed our charts in your blog — we’ve made it super easy –  showing how sale prices are trending up or down in your area. Redfin has been pretty bad about getting others to install our widgets, even though we think our data quality is much higher — the charts combine MLS and tax record data, filtered for subtle flaws, segmented by property type since condos are more expensive by the square foot than houses.

200 New Fields About Listings
The biggest change is on the back-end, where we switched to a new type of data feed from the listing services. It’s called a Virtual Office Website (VOW) feed. The listing services require registration and an email confirmation of your registration — we ask you about this at the bottom of every property’s list of amenities even though we won’t spam you, ever — but then we can in theory show you everything that a broker can talk to his client about in person.

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This is part of a huge shift that began years ago, but is only just now reaching the surface. Remember the big 2005 lawsuit against the Realtors? When it settled last year, all the Realtor-owned listing services agreed to publish everything they had by February 15, 2009. Most missed that deadline, so the reality there is still a lot of data in the MLS that we can tell you about without showing you.

But so far Dave Fry, Arther Patterson and Jamie DeMichele have added 200 fields to our database, mostly minor stuff plus a few major items. In some markets, like the Bay Area, we can now publish the mortgage history, so you can find out what the seller owes on his place. In others, we got the property price history. When the Southern California listing services get their super-feed sorted out, we’ll be able to publish tons more information, since the listing services down there haven’t historically shared much data at all.

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As they add data to their feeds, we’ll add data to the site, every month, until we have all of it up on the Web. It’s a big competitive advantage for us, since only brokers can publish this data, and most brokers don’t want to or haven’t gotten around to it. Our journey into Freakish Depth on listing data has only just begun.

Many, many thanks to all the development and quality engineers, the designers, the writers, the product managers and our compliance ace, Mary Black, who is responsible for cajoling data from the listing services. Your hard work makes us all proud and dang doesn’t it look good too?

As always, we’re anxious to hear what you think of the new release, so leave a comment and tell us what to do next!

Discussion

  • Alex Mather

    Congrats!

    Nice work on the mortgage calc but please please please work in “Total Monthly Price” into it somehow. Total price will include any association fees, monthly taxes, and PMI if applicable.

    A total monthly price gives users the truest sense of what it would cost to own the property.

  • http://twitter.com/mcgarty Rob McGarty

    Hi Alex,
    We couldn’t squeeze that feature into this release, but we agree that is going to set our mortgage calculator apart. Look for it in the next release.
    Thanks,
    Rob

  • Rami

    Having a the mortgage calc is major improvement. Incorporating the other stuff in the next release is great news. I don’t know how far along you’re in your planning or dev cycle but here’s a feature request: in addition to including the other stuff in the mortgage calc (insurance, taxes, etc), which would adjust based on home value, have the more stable variables such as down payment and interest rate be stored in the user’s account so that that info won’t have to be entered everytime a new house is being viewed. Keep up the great work!

  • pAM WISE

    could you include “amenities” in your search criteria -like “pool” “spa”

  • http://blog.redfin.com Glenn Kelman

    Great suggestions Rami and Pam!
    We’ll try to upgrade the mortgage calculator to remember down-payment and we know we need to add a filter for houses with pools… thanks for stopping by with these suggestions.
    Regards, Glenn

  • Jamshid

    Superb job! We are searching for a new home, and just discovered RedFin couple weeks ago. It beats all other web sites by far!

    Three requests:
    1- Is there any way to provide an option for “list view” vs “Map View”? I love the map view by RedFin, but there are cases where the list view, with sort ability by zip code, area, price, etc, can be very helpful. The list view could also help to obtain a concise report of sold items.

    2- Is there anyway to keep sold property detail info after they close? This could be helpful as a detail comparison tool. For example, now, I don’t see how to find the lot size of a sold property.

    Lots of luck! Great work!

  • Amit

    You guys have THE best website for Residential Real Estate, period. You also have one of the best websites, in general, on the web. Its in the same league as Google, Amazon, etc. Keep up the great work!

  • Navtej

    Jamshid,
    1. Try clicking the little up/down arrows in on the right side of the list below the map, next to the word “days”.
    2. Listings that have gone off market are a tricky case for us because of various MLS rules. We are trying to work something out so we can show you the most data possible.

  • http://twitter.com/mattgoyer Matt Goyer

    @Jamshid something people do for #2 is manually copy & paste the info you want into the notes box since the notes you take will still exist after it has gone off the market.

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  • http://honeysun.wordpress.com Shahaf Abileah

    Congrats on the new release! Woohoo! :-)

    –S

  • Yu-Han

    Great job on the website. I’d used Ziprealty a while back, but quicky switched over when I found out about you guys!

    I’ve noticed that you’re not allowed to show data from listings that have been taken off the MLS. Going off the response above about copy & pasting info into your private notes, would it be legal for you guys to simply provide a button that users could click, which would save ALL INFO from a listing into some “private data”, which would then be accessible to the user at a later date, possibly after the listing has gone off the market. If copy & pasting is legal, this is just making that a bit easier for the user, but I’m not sure when it crosses the line. It’d be a great feature for those of us who are trying to track sales though!

    Thanks again.

  • http://blog.redfin.com Glenn Kelman

    Yu-Han did you see the download to a spreadsheet feature that appears just below the list of homes, which itself is just below the map?

  • Linda Peck

    Could you please consider expanding to the Palm Springs/Palm Desert/Rancho Mirage area of So Cal..? We’re going to buy a new home there in about 6 months & would like to use Redfin to do so.

    thnx!

  • me

    The commenting for the vow. How can this be possible? I thought you could not allow public comments on for sale properties because it would harm the sellers and cause lots of useless comments.

    So with the vow you are allowed to basically put a note on a sold property’s detail page but this is not visible to everyone who registers is it. The commenting does not make sense. There should be no public commenting on for sale or sold properties. There should only be private comments if you ask me.

  • http://blog.redfin.com/blog/author/glenn%20kelman Glenn Kelman

    @Linda: thanks for the support! We’re working as fast as we can to recruit partner agents in Coachella.

    @Me: the VOW feed allows for comments, although we haven’t developed that feature yet. Sellers can choose to display their listings on Internet sites without allowing comments or, for that matter, Zestimates (aka AVMs, automatic valuation methods).

    Thanks for the comments!
    Glenn

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