Coming to Terms with Freakish Depth: Redfin Writes a Real Estate Glossary

Young companies like Redfin often view successful start-ups in the same way that a little brother looks up to his big bro: full of admiration, wonder, and a touch of envy. Most of all, they just want to learn as much as possible from those that did something right.

A few months ago, online jeweler Blue Nile co-founder Ben Elowitz gave Redfin’s Seattle office a brown-bag talk. Our brown-bag lunch series features presentations by entrepreneurs, VCs, real estate agents, journalists, and our own employees so we can all learn from each other, usually over tin foil bins of Indian food. Ben spoke about how Blue Nile built a trustworthy and successful brand in part by becoming an authority on diamond education and guidance. They did this by writing a diamond buying guide, expanding on the “4 C’s” of diamond evaluation, and producing a glossary of terms. We all sat up and realized that we need to be providing the same kind of comprehensive real estate education for our customers. We’ve got the best search site, the most experienced agents, and now we need to be the authoritative source for home buying and selling help content.

So here’s our first shot at a real estate glossary. We focused on depth since we figured a two-sentence definition doesn’t adequately help a first-time home buyer looking to get an FHA loan, wondering about what’s on a Purchase and Sale agreement, or curious about how a home appraisal can affect financing. We wanted to draw on the knowledge and experience of our agents and customers, so we didn’t license the content. Instead, we kept digging to present clear and honest definitions. Each term linked within the glossary has a special format: when you click on the link, a little pop-up gives you a bit of teaser content with a link to the term’s full definition if you’d like to learn more.

inspection glossary screenshot

Creating the glossary was a collaborative effort across our engineering, real estate operations, and marketing teams. Many thanks to our web developer/official Redfin Class Clown Jason Brackins for designing and coding the interface, our agents, and Brian Thielicke, Matt Allen, and John Wheaton, three of our preferred mortgage lenders who provided great feedback as we produced draft after draft. And a special shout-out to Redfin customer extraordinaire @basiamontauk for reviewing our entire 20+ page doc! We can’t thank you enough for your support of Redfin.

Now we need your help. Every page has a feedback box where you can send us suggestions for new terms and how we could improve. Check out the glossary and let us know what you think!