Redfin Expands to Phoenix, Launches New Listing Service

Big news Redfinnians! Today we launched a big upgrade to our service for home-sellers, began touring short sales, and opened Phoenix. It’s a lot to cover, so let’s dive right in!

The Listing Service Now Includes an In-Home Consultation, More Online Tools
Lets talk about the listing service first since that affects every market. The big problem we’ve had listing homes before is that we didn’t have enough agents to cover the territory, making it hard to see the house before we put it on the market. Since organizing agents into local teams last November and adding partners to cover the outlying areas, that’s all changed.

We can now visit every property, to see which rooms need to be spruced up before the house hits the market, and to price the place based on first-hand experience. Every agent has a list of local, reliable stagers, gardeners and handymen to get the place sparkling from top to toe. To underscore the personal responsibility each Redfin agent is taking for selling a listing, every yard sign will have that agent’s name on it, starting next week.New For Sale Sign

There’s no up-front fee on our listings, which I always thought was baloney anyway, and our pricing has changed just to match our buy-side offering: we charge 1.5% of the home price, with a $5,500 minimum. Before we charged $5,000 or $7,000, depending on the level of service. As always, our agents’ bonus depends on customer satisfaction, so the agent’s incentive will always be to make you happy, not just to sell the property at any price.

We still include professional photography with our service, which we think makes the biggest difference in online appeal, and we list the property all over the web, even on the sites that don’t have a direct MLS feed, including Craigslist, Trulia, Zillow and Realtor.com. We also re-designed our flyers to look really spiffy, and we’re printing them for the customer rather than sending you an electronic file to print yourself. And then we’re getting the word out through our network of field agents, who work with thousands of home-buyers every month.

As you’d expect from Redfin, we offer the best online tools for tracking website traffic to your listing and comparing it to the traffic to other listings in the neighborhood. We also are deploying an email survey system for asking other agents who show the property what their clients think about the property and the price, so you can fix problems fast.

And we’re not done with listings! We’ve got plenty of online tools in the works for home-sellers, so let us know in the comments if there’s something in particular you’d like to see. Already plenty of thanks is due to Marcelo Calbucci, a Seattle entrepreneur who gave us detailed feedback on why he chose a traditional agent in lieu of Redfin to sell his home last year. Thanks Marcelo. To learn more about our service for home-sellers, visit our site.

Short-Sale Tours
And at long last, Redfin is supporting tours for short sale properties. Short sales are properties selling for less than the owner owes the bank. Because one or usually two banks has to approve the sale, a short sale may take months to close or the banks may never approve it, preferring instead just to re-possess the house after the foreclosure auction.

For a long time, Redfin didn’t help our customers with short sales at all. But as the number of short sales proliferated, and as I overheard our front desk take more and more calls from customers wanting at least to see a few short-sale properties on their neighborhood tour, we decided we had to help.

So we’ve hired more field agents to handle the load, and we’re ready to tour short sales in Seattle, Portland, the Bay Area, Sacramento, LA, Atlanta and Phoenix. In the rest of our markets, we still have to hire more field agents but that shouldn’t take more than a month or so; we’ll keep you posted.

If our customers decide to write an offer on a short-sale property, we’ll still have to refer the deal to a partner, just because our agents in most markets still need to go through a bit more training on the ins and outs of working with different banks. The refund on a short-sale offer is the same as it is for all partners, 15%, and the partners go through the same vetting, surveying, interviewing process we put all partners through.

Thanks to Adam Doppelt and other customers for getting on our case to do the right thing with short sales. One note: in Phoenix, our own agents are handling short sales directly as well as our partners. There’s too many of ‘em down there for us to ignore.

Redfin Launches in the Valley of the Sun
Which brings us to Phoenix, the  grave-yard of real estate brokers

Yes, the market is in rough shape. Yes, competition in Phoenix is fierce. But we can take it. Our site will be, by far, the best real estate search site in Phoenix, if for no other reason than that we have data no one else does: beyond the comprehensive listing data we show about a home’s price history and days on market, Redfin is the first to display photos and details of homes that recently sold. In a market changing as fast as Phoenix, consumers will love getting near real-time updates on what’s selling and for how much, so we expect our traffic to take off there.

Marcus Fleming

Hopefully, our agents can keep up. Marcus Fleming is running our local customer-service operation. Like Jeff Bale in Portland, Mark Reitman in Chicago, James Marks in Atlanta and Michael Daly in New York City, Marcus combines the nitty-gritty customer-service experience of running a retail store — that will give you battle scars, believe me — with years running a real estate brokerage.

Marcus has already hired a few Redfin agents to help him cover the Valley of the Sun, but we’ve stopped trying to offer local expertise for the entire metropolitan area. Instead we rely on partners working for other brokerages to cover the areas we can’t reach ourselves. To make sure we never send a Redfin customer to a dingbat, Redfin’s Chelsea Mitchell and Shari Fox put every partner through the wringer, requiring each partner to have closed 15 transactions, and then surveying a year’s worth of past customers. As always, we publish the results of those surveys to our website.

The result: our partners include some of the best real estate agents in Phoenix, including the great Greg Swann of Bloodhound Blog, and his partner Cathleen Collins. I feel especially honored to have Greg join our program, not only because he is such a delightful blogger to follow, but because we have learned so much from him over the years. Every time I go to Phoenix, I talk to Greg, and every time I talk to Greg, I learn more about real estate.

Phew! That’s it! Another big launch is in the books. Thanks to all the Redfin folks who worked so hard to get this baby out the door.

Discussion

  • http://blog.findwell.com Kevin Lisota

    Good work on the updates Glenn. I’m sure that sellers will appreciate having more options to traditional brokers.

    I have one request for your team. If you are deploying an email survey system for showings at your own listings, can you request that your team responds to feedback requests from other agents? We’ve had lots of Redfin agents show our listings, but we’ve had preciously two responses to our feedback requests in the last two years. The rest of the feedback requests were simply ignored. We’ve also tried retrieving feedback from your agents over the phone, with no success. We are happy to participate in your feedback system if your agents can return the favor on our listings.

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

      Kevin, it will take us a little while to build a system of our own that can send feedback your way but we’re working on it.

  • http://www.phoenixrealestateguy.com Jay Thompson

    Congrats on the expansion. We’re looking forward to partnering with Redfin in Phoenix!

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  • http://www.aagrealestate.com Anthony Gonzalez

    Congrats on another expansion and the New Listing Service. Sounds like a great time in Real Estate for the consumer.

    Cheers!

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  • Ted Ryerson

    The Redfin Revolution has ended with a whimper.
    Buried in this long blog post is a massive change in Redfin’s business model. Did you catch it?

    That’s right. They have changed their buy-side pricing to be 1.5% of the home price, with a $5,500 minimum. Before it was a flat rate.

    Redfin has now adopted the same pricing model as the NAR with all of its maddening conflicts of interest. Welcome Redfin to the most despised profession in the world!

    While it’s true that Redfin has a different technology model (great website), they now use the same pricing model as the enemy and are now just competing on price.

    What Redfin doesn’t understand is that great companies are built on both new technology models *and* new pricing models (Southwest Airlines, Salesforce.com, Google).

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

    Hi Ted, we have an issue with how agents are paid on the buy-side but less on the sell-side. What matters more in this discussion is the pricing model our customers like best; we asked, extensively. When selling a house, high-end customers were concerned that a flat fee discouraged the level of engagement they thought would be necessary to maximize their total return.

    Not everything the traditional industry does is wrong. Our revolution is as much about transparency, a customer-service focus and consumer choice as it is about value. Value will always be important, but it isn’t the only way real estate needs to improve.

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  • Bob

    “Not everything the traditional industry does is wrong.”

    I guess the part where we actually SEE the property BEFORE listing it is one of the few things we got right. Who would have thought that making sure we had a clue about the property qualified as raising the bar for customer service.

  • http://www.pickettstreet.com Jesse Moore

    Glenn, I have to ditto Kevin Lisota’s comment. You don’t have to build a new system for your agents to provide feedback on homes they toured, they merely have to be able to reply to an email or click on a link and then on maybe seven radio buttons. I’ve been confounded for some time that showing agents for Redfin don’t have the professional courtesy to give feedback, which is now something you’re promising to request for your own sellers. Please encourage your showing agents to respond to feedback requests, and you’ll find that you’ll get feedback in return.

  • Glenn Kelman

    Good point Jesse. It’s one that Windermere’s Matt Deasy has raised before and we just need to do a better job of it. We’ll do better on a case by case basis, and we’ll have a system that will ensure we are all much better by the end of the year.

  • http://www.astromanager.net Scot

    I’m going to have to agree with Ted here. It’s hard for me to judge, not being in the business, but changing to a % fee seems to be taking the easy way out. Of course your sellers want your fee to be percentage-based -in an attempt to motivate you to sell for the highest possible price. Buyers, of course, don’t want that. Your issue, then, was proving to sellers that you are engaged even with a flat fee. If you could manage to do that, I’m sure they would not object to paying you less for your services.

    I do agree there is a whole lot more to your revolution that flat pricing, but that was a big one and is a major problem with the real estate industry. I’m disappointed that you could not find a way to make it work. I hope, though, that you keep trying. Good luck,

    scot

  • http://www.astromanager.net Scot

    And on further thought, I can see how the sell-side is different than the buy-side. (And I realize that percentage vs. flat fee won’t always be a matter of more vs. less.) It certainly matters what impression/feeling the seller gets from the arrangement, so I could see how the commission model addresses that. Did you explore, though, other ways to try and offer that same re-assurance without that price model?

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  • Eugene

    When will you finally get into Las Vegas / Henderson Market?

  • Sam

    It is great to see the company make progress and expand. Gaining market share is always a good thing. Keep up the great work, I look forward to using your services in the future!

  • Sam

    Ted,
    Selling agents typical motivation is to sell your house. The dollar spread on the selling commission is peanuts. Do the math, 3% on $10,000 spread = $300. Look at the big picture 200,0000 x 3% =$ 6,000 vs. 210,000 = $6,300. You as a seller need the extra 10 grand; however does the agent need the extra 300 bucks?

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