Requiem for a Dream

Redfin just took down Scouting Report 1.0 for good. Our latest problem was that the data we used for Scouting Report had problems at the source that weren’t easy for us to fix, mostly because agents work informally in teams, or sometimes don’t formally record when an out-of-town agent represented a buyer in a deal.

So we took Scouting Report down. The post I was going to write about this decision apologized a lot. I’m sorry we didn’t get the data right; it was arrogance to think that we had. I’m sorry we showed up in the Google index, too, and wish we hadn’t run any Redfin ads on another agent’s page, though these problems would have been easy to fix.

But I still think the folks most violently opposed to Scouting Report didn’t hate it because it was wrong but because it was right. I know that consumers loved it and now they can’t get it anywhere else. And I still believe that brokers should be the ones to tell regular folks how agents have performed in different neighborhoods, because we’re the only ones with reliable data.

As for the rest of the story, you can read all about it in the note I sent the company. Thanks to everyone who supported us or reasoned with us for your time & kindness.

Hi Redfinnians,
 
As you may have heard, Redfin just pulled the Scouting Report we released last Thursday to allow consumers to see the deal history and performance metrics of any real estate agent. The basic problem is that the data wasn’t accurate, first because of bugs then ultimately because of problems with the source data in MLSs.

Only a tiny fraction of transactions weren’t accounted for but it would have been enough to destroy our credibility if we had insisted on keeping Scouting Report live.  Had the data been accurate we’d have defended ourselves from MLS and agent complaints ’til hell froze over, but in the absence of accuracy we have no defense.
 
I don’t know when Scouting Report will see the light of day again, though I am hopeful that if we allow any agent to curate her own profile, we will resolve many of the inaccuracies. In the meantime, we’ll use some of the data to tell consumers when a Redfin agent has worked with another agent before.

Some of our competitors will dance on Scouting Report’s grave and say I told you so. I certainly feel frustrated that I wasn’t more thoughtful in launching the service; a beta program involving our partners would have avoided all sorts of problems.
 
We have to account for what happened over the past week as a failure, and try to understand how we can do better. Obviously, it’s my fault. I’ve thought a lot about how hard folks worked to pull this off. I wish you’d had a better leader in me. But the lesson we should draw is to be more thoughtful about making a risk pay, not more cautious in avoiding the risk altogether.
 
There are all sorts of projects that fail at any corporation for a different and less conspicuous reason, because the risk was measured out in teaspoons and the idea was compromised beyond recognition and nobody made decisions and the thing had absolutely no personality and nobody really cared in the end whether it was good or bad — or even knew that it existed. The reason most people give up on a great company like Redfin is because it stops making decisions and stops taking risks. They give up because the company loses its gonads and its heart and then its soul.
 
To which I say nuts. That wasn’t the problem here, and The Great Pumpkin willing it never will be. One of our values is to be fearless: bet big, tinker constantly, fail fast, measure results. If you see people who worked on Scouting Report don’t BS ‘em and say the first release was a triumph — man oh man it wasn’t — but maybe thank them for their fearlessness all the same. In the end it’s that spirit that makes me sure we’ll win.
 
Love, Glenn

Discussion

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  • Jay Thompson

    “But the lesson we should draw is to be more thoughtful about making a risk pay, not more cautious in avoiding the risk altogether.”

    That says it well Glenn. As I mentioned several times, I *liked* the concept of the Scouting Report. We've got nothing to hide. But the data *has* to be accurate. And the MLS, sadly, is rife with inaccuracies.

    I applaud you for trying. I suspect this won't be the last time we see someone, somewhere, generate a “Scouting Report”.

    • Belinda Leisure

      To bad some of the inaccuracies kills a great thing! maybe it can be corrected?  why stop at the first road block?

  • Leslie Ebersole

    We have nothing to hide and our mls stats are easily viewable by anyone who participates in our mls. I don't know how you know that only a tiny fraction of the reports were wrong unless you pulled a sample from dozens of mls's. IMO Burger King or Sonic or Bill's Burger Shack had best stick to reporting on how many burgers they sell, rather than publishing data on McDonalds or InandOut Burger.

    • http://www.facebook.com/bradcerenzia Brad Cerenzia

      I understand your analogy, and I'd extend it a little bit further: I think of Redfin more as the Subway franchise in the bunch, with ads talking about the calories and poor nutritional value in the competitors' meals as an important differentiator in the marketplace.  As a guy-on-the-go, that comparative information is important to me.

  • http://jphilip.com J Philip Faranda

    “But I still think the folks most violently opposed to Scouting Report didn’t hate it because it was wrong but because it was right.”
    Well said. I have nothing to hide, and as a matter of fact I am proud of my numbers. But my data was incomplete, and that didn't help anyone.

  • DallasLoanGuy

    They should fix it…..

    I have worked with too many 'Nationally Renowned' 'Top Producers who only did 5 deals per yr.

    • Jay Thompson

      Dallas – why not just ask these “top producers” to provide data to back up their claims?

      • http://www.facebook.com/bradcerenzia Brad Cerenzia

        Because there's no standard in the marketplace for customers to ask for that data and validate it.  It's hidden behind a wall that only agents can get to, unfortunately.

  • Bob Bemis, ARMLS CEO

    If this exercise teaches us nothing more, it is that we who manage and operate the MLS need to do a little housekeeping on our product.  Rob Hahn noted well that we can't talk out of both sides of our mouth.  http://ow.ly/6NBLF On one hand we tout MLS data as the best, cleanest, most accurate and most current, and on the other hand we deride publication of performance stats because the base data is garbage.  We can't have it both ways.  We need to get the source data into a form and of sufficient accuracy to allow innovative efforts to be tried, and let them succeed or fail on their own merits, not because the underlying MLS data is flawed.  I'm going to go get a broom now.
    Bob Bemis
    CEO, ARMLS

  • Alexander

    I'm REALLY disappointed about this. This service was incredibly useful to me as a real estate investor. I had been attempting to build something like it myself. I will keep trying now. I don't mean to be a jerk but why was this really taken down? I don't believe the only reason was “inaccuracies”.

    • http://virtualresults.net Drew Meyers

      It will be back at some point. I really don't think this is the last of open agent performance stats. Just a matter of time before someone does it again..

    • http://twitter.com/rayschmitz Ray Schmitz

      We should talk.

    • http://jphilip.com J Philip Faranda

      I can understand why a consumer would like this idea, and I do believe we haven't seen the last of it. However, the data wasn't slightly off in my case, it was missing over 90% of my sales. Ethically, that had to be corrected or taken down. 

      Sometime, and sometime soon, another enterprise will take this on. I do hope that entity is a 3rd party, not a competing broker. This is the wave of the future in the information age, and whether agents like it or not, it isn't going away. 

      All that said, this was an Edsel.

    • TTT

      The service was also useful to me as a real estate investor.  I hope you get it back up again asap.  Realtors should be open about their sales.  Why not?  Any professionals would disclose their stats openly.  Doctors have their names written in newspaper and internet when there is disciplinary action against them.  They also have reviews on yelp.  So, why not realtors stats?  It not even life threatening.

  • Renee Burrows

    I am actually proud of my stats but they were devoid of rental history and from when I had my team and ALLOWED my team members to put my leads under their name (stupid stupid me.)

    It would be a great option if it were similar to IDX – opt in/opt out and if the information was accurate.

    DEFINITELY was NOT KEEN on your “partner agents” (no Redfin agents in my area) being paraded in a different manner via their reviews.  That was no bueno and not coolio.  I was wondering what Redfin's no agent/1 broker office had to hide when they hide behind the skirts of “partner agents” who work for other brokerages.  What's up?  Never broker a deal in the Las Vegas market?

  • Cynthia Larsen

    “Only a tiny fraction of transactions weren’t accounted for”

    Really? How would you know? In my case your “accounting” was off by 900% and I mean that literally. It is not your place to report my business stats, never was, never will be. Don't just take Scouting Report down, burn it.

    • JKelley_1

      Another disgruntled realtor. Your comments Cynthia are indicative of what's wrong with realtors today. The concept is great. It's about openness and communication. Maybe if there weren't so many shady realtors to begin with they would embrace this idea.
       Five years ago no agent wanted to acknowledge Redfin. Today, we see partner agents and a change in attitude. When I used to mention Redfin to realtors I heard the crap: well we are a full service broker. (like being able to fill out a few papers meant you were able to charge more). Let's face it. The tide is changing and realtors need to change or they will go the way of the dinosaur. Extinct.

      • http://www.facebook.com/bradcerenzia Brad Cerenzia

        “It is not your place to report my business stats, never was, never will be.”
        Other agents can see your data and share it with their customers if they choose to.  Why shouldn't it be available to me as a buyer/seller when deciding with whom I want to work? 

        Used to be in the NW that showing on the Web the total days on market of a house was … scandalous.  Buyers could only get that info from their agent.  I don't know how hiding that information behind an agent wall is good for the marketplace, good for consumers.

        It's not fair that your accounting was off by so much, Cynthia, I certainly agree!

      • Bpcullen10

        Well J, nobody is forced to use a Realtor. If you do not see any value using a Realtor why not just find and fill out the papers yourself. Lets face it – you could represent yourself right?

      • TTT

        I totally agree with  you.  Very well stated. Realtors have a lot to hide because of multiple reasons.  What is wrong with exposing how many houses an agent have sold/purchased on behalf of their clients/themselves?  Realtors advertised that they sold over “20 homes” in the past year all the time.  This is just another way of free advertisements unless you lie about your numbers.  
        Why is their commission 5-6% of the price of the house when they're just pushing paperwork?  If I could get the commission back without using a realtor, I would represent myself.  I needed a realtor to get 50% of the commission back.  WHY??

      • Loreena Yeo

        Jkelley – If I wasn't a Realtor, I would completely agree with you that realtors just fill out a few papers and open doors. Until I walk in the shoes I do today, and filled myself with lots of education and experience, how would I know what to fill in the blanks to best protect my clients?

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  • http://MoCoRealEstate.com Bruce Lemieux

    Glenn, I appreciate that you were open about the process and openly addressed criticism of the tool.  Still, the idea that a broker would display competing broker's agent stats without their explicit permission seems fundamentally flawed to me. The data quality expectation would be impossibly high to ever meet. 

    This move hurt your brand — at least with me.  Implementing a tool with the obvious intent of profiting from other agent's name & stats did not appear to advance the industry in anyway, but seemed like a cheap play to stretch the rules to make a buck.  You say that wasn't your intent, but it sure did look that way.

  • http://twitter.com/mattdollinger Matt Dollinger

    Glenn,

    As someone who got about 50 “DID YOU SEE WHAT REDFIN JUST DID????” emails the day you announced and put this live, I have to say that I'm really torn about this.  

    #1 – you should be congratulated for thinking way past the competition and on behalf of the consumer.  I truly think that you put something out there that COULD help the consumer out (and a really healthy dose of SEO, links and buzz… but that's not the story of my comment) and if done correctly would bring some light to the #1 title so many agents wear.  This is taking the whole agent ratings thing to a whole different level – and where, yes – I believe that the numbers only tell part of the story (and are probably going to be ill-digested by the consumer) this is a great step in the right direction for the ever-popular discussion of “raising the bar”

    #2 – unfortunately rolling this out with incorrect data and then pulling it down, I believe will only strengthen the resentment against such things in the future.  This coupled with my point above that the, “numbers only tell part of the story” are the flip side and unfortunately will taint this going forward.  I'm all for giving the data to the consumer on 2 conditions – 1) it's right and 2) they know what the data means.

    My hope is that this was not just a huge attempt to gain links and buzz to the site – but truly something to push our industry to be better.  I'm going to lean to the latter because… well … life's too short not to be an optimist.

  • http://www.leadplace.com Ray Schmitz

    Great try, Glenn & team!  Imperfect data is better than no data.  Even if it is not easy to interpret well, the consumer does want this information.  The next time someone tries, I think it will take hold.

    • Jay Lopez

      “Imperfect data is better than no data.” #FAIL on that comment.  It's way worse than no data Ray. It flaws the entire process and creates unrealistic expectations.  What if the genetic code was measured with imperfect data?  We'd all be apes!  :)

      • Sean

        Shoot Jay, if thats the case then we should shut down every MLS completely. Not to mention the US Census Bureau and every other data source out on the planet. I bet you can't show me one example of “perfect “data, at least that is useful, anywhere. And yes, that includes measuring genetic codes.

        • http://virtualresults.net Drew Meyers

          Agreed. The US public property record system? Atrociously inaccurate as well (unless they've done MASSIVE data cleanup in the last 2 years).

        • Jay Lopez

          Agree Sean.  But what is the purpose of the MLS?  We can debate what we think it should be and how it can evolve, however the purpose is to expose listings to other brokers and to make an offer of compensation to a buyers broker for bringing a buyer to your listing.  Obviously there are stats we can use based on that data, and unfortunately it is not accurate.  But as agents, we know this and have ways to verify information.  When presented to the general public, who take it at face value, well that creates issues, don't you think?  I always said the worst thing about MLS data is it can be manipulated to make it say whatever we want.  But to some, that is also the best thing.

          • Sean

            Regardless of the intended, hoped for, or ordained “purpose”, the reality is that the MLS has become everyone's source for real estate listing information. Try as many might to protect it as some sort of broker-broker secret, its too late for that. That belief is dying slow and hard, but it is dying every day.
            Two things that I think many arguments against publicly available agents stats miss:1. If your data is inaccurate, you should thank the person who brought it to your attention and FIX IT. If that means going down to your MLS and fixing it record, by record, so be it. Rather than complaining do something about it. It is your data after all, and it shouldn't bother you that it is being shown – it should really bother you that it is wrong in the first place – and likely do to your own mistakes. I find an interesting correlation between names here I recognize as better brokers/agents, who largely say there data was shown correctly, and those with lousy spelling and grammer in their posts, who say their data was wrong. Frankly as a consumer, the fact that your data is wrong is a good sign you are not someone I want to do business with.2. Those who manipulate data to make it say something untruthful will ultimately be exposed as liars and cheaters. That is far more damaging than being new or having only a few transactions. Saying this tool would lead to lying and cheating is a red herring… I'd bet anything it would do exactly the opposite.

      • http://twitter.com/rayschmitz Ray Schmitz

        Seriously, I find it ironic that so many agents – who are themselves otherwise so capable of combining good judgment and intuition in the face of uncertainty – are arguing that slightly imperfect information is utterly intolerable and only perfection will do.  Isn't it the *substantial* imperfections and limitations to market information that keep the agent's competence so important?

        BTW, the genetic code *IS* imperfect, and the reason we are not still apes is that sometimes mutations –  imperfect copies – result in something new, in some way more fit.  ;)

        May the next #FAIL be a really good one!

        • http://www.facebook.com/bradcerenzia Brad Cerenzia

          “May the next #FAIL be a really good one!”

          I think this might be my new sig line for my email! :-D

    • Belinda Leisure

      Well Said!  it was great information, bottom line it should be available perfect or not.

  • Alexander

    I will be building a new site that does just this function. I have been considering it for awhile. I was really happy when Redfin did it for me. But now this! Someone needs to stand up for the consumers! I'm extremely disappointed that Redfin has been sucked into the “peer pressure” to take this service down.

  • Lbinen

    For an alternate background check, California real estate consumers can research complaints filed against any CA real estate licensee or company at the regulator's website (http://www2.dre.ca.gov/PublicA… ),  It also shows when the agent was first licensed, but not their recent transactions.

    Other states probably have similar regulatory agency websites.

  • Alan May

    I will say that the Scouting Report was elegant, and a beautiful piece of software programming.  You guys are frequently on the forefront of real estate technology and you do it well.

    But this “service” doesn't belong in the hands of competitors.  I don't want Redfin (or any competitor of mine, for that matter) in control of disseminating my statistics.  If your goal is truly “transparency”, and not snagging new clients… then you should be taking your programming skills to NAR, the local MLS's and boards.  And if you do that, where the National Association, MLS's and boards are in control of putting the information out there (not any specific agency).. you'll have my support, and I'd bet a lot of other agents.

    • http://www.facebook.com/bradcerenzia Brad Cerenzia

      Seems like it might be a good opportunity for brokers to build their own tools that help their customers evaluate the efficacy of agents in that brokerage compared to other agents in the marketplace.  Seems like a really exciting opportunity to differentiate oneself in the market.  Redfin happened to be the first to do it.  Just like it was the first to map houses (before Google Maps even existed!) or show you sales history or when it was pulled on and off the market and the price changed.  All game-changing moves, and I applaud them for it.

  • http://twitter.com/TonyLazz Tony Lazzari

    Just some thoughts from an agent. Someone has to be the first to try something like this. It will happen, there will always be inaccuracies in any system, but as many have said, if you are dealing with data that is bad/incomplete at the source level, anything downstream obviously will magnify. 
    As to the concept of a competitor reporting stats on other agencies in a market area? Folks, you are probably doing this today if you ever compare your agency to another in a listing prez. And if you aren't, why not??? It's VOW data, any other participating broker in our MLS could do the same thing. The issue is accuracy and completeness. Period.

    • http://www.Kens411.com Ken Brand

      I agree.  It is weird that it's perfectly fine, and in fact encouraged, when on a listing preso, comparing your favorable stats to their unfavorable stats is savvy and expected.  So in private, no problem.  Release the hounds in public, it's a considered a No-Go.  It's a nuanced business I suppose.

      • Alan May

        In my listing presentations, I never talk about the other agent.  It's bad form, and often backfires.  I only talk about me, what I will do, how I will market their property and bring them a buyer.

        I'm all for transparency.  Have it managed by a disinterested third party instead of my competitor, and I'm on board.

  • Greg Nino

    Conceptually a good idea. Only an agent with years of experience would be able to resepect stats in a way that you did not. I was angry, and mine weren't even posted. A new agent doesn't deserve to be viewed upon as a zero. I would have faught the idea here in my mkt as well. In fact, I emailed, called and sent a letter to several associations pleading that they stand up to this nonsense.

  • Diana

    I'm torn. I liked it, my data was 100% accurate at least for the past 12 months and I the older data was probably good as well. I thought it was a well built program and super easy for the user. I didn't have time to think it through much. It all happened so fast.

  • http://www.Kens411.com Ken Brand

    I tip-my-hat, head nod and say thank you.  Really, what pushes ALL of US harder and higher than an audacious wakeup call?  Right now it's only a kid-hand sized snowball rolling down hill. . .look out below!

  • http://www.realcentralva.com Jim Duncan

    Fail big and fast. Thank you for taking the initiative to push the industry beyond its current status quo. 

    Accurate data should be one of the foundations and hallmarks of every MLS, but accuracy is the elusive goal that is dependent on agents. 

    Hopefully you raised the bar on the conversation about production and competency, if even for less than a week.

  • Nina

    It was so funny – today, several agents in our MLS, not realizing the scouting report was already a dead issue, posted their new listings three even four times.  The MLS will count them of course, as three or four different deals.  It is possible to load the same listing a gazillion times and get a gazillion new deals attributed to your name.  The point being, this data is easily manipulated by agents.  When your reputation is at stake, or when you're just starting out in the business and have no stats, you learn quickly how to beat the system.  The data will never, ever be accurate.  As for Redfin trying, anyone who believes this was anything more than a publicity stunt, there's a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you. :o)

  • http://www.longislandrealestatelady.com JackieC

    Hello???!?!? The data about agents production was WRONG! Consumers seeing agents that did only a few transactions when in fact they had dozens upon dozens. Tell me, how is that right?

  • Jte777

    Sorry, thi swas just another case of a company attempting to make themselves look good and others look bad by using data that they should have no right to. Without proper interpretation of the cold data, inaccuracies were presented to the public and that is against our Code of Ethics and often against the rules of the local MLS's. We try to make an honest living and are not getting rich right now (never did for that matter). We do not need a third party telling others that we are rotten agents when that is simply not true. Shameful.

  • JK

    Hmm…Maybe Zillow should close it's site too. Their statistics tell me my property is worth 100k more than I know for a fact it is. In fact it tells me this about several properties I owe.
     Everyone knows they are inaccurate but they just continue to work to get it better.
    It's too bad this info was pulled.

    • Tigoldfish1234

      maybe you should sell them then, Kelly? hard to pick an agent now, hah?

    • PortlandHomesForCars

      Except that the CEO of Zillow has publically stated that his site is now an “entertainment website”.  Perhaps he got tired of the legal threats about the Zestimates of specific properties, extrapolated from the larger zip codes?

      • http://twitter.com/spencerrascoff Spencer Rascoff

        Hi PortlandHomesForCars,
        Spencer from Zillow here. I don't recall having described Zillow as an “entertainment website”, though there are people who do use it for entertainment. On the contrary though, most of Zillow's users are actively in the market to buy, sell or rent a home — we're a serious website for serious home-shoppers.

  • Coralghomes

    I am glad you pulled the program, but disagree with your sentiment as to why agents disliked it.  By saying they “didn't like it because it was right”, you are still slamming on the industry and implying most agents don't sell many houses.   My broker has been posting our agent's recent sales for years.  I have it on my website for the world to see….and it is accurate.  I think most agents oppose to a competitor publishing our stats.   It is disingenuous to say the least.  As other agents have pointed out in previous comments, we don't talk about our competition's flaws to gain business, we talk about our own results.  And misrepresenting a competitor, which is what your version of the scouting report was, is unethical.

  • Jeremy_Hart

    Glenn, thanks for taking the risk.  At least you took it – and truth-be-told, if the stats are correct then publish away.

  • Loreena Yeo

    The next time you decide to do this again, please be sure to consider Opt-in, not Opt-out. You, a real estate brokerage has no right to publish what/ whom that do not belong to you. Do it for your agents, for your referral partners. Dont be righteous for everyone.
    We can interpret our own data better than anyone else can. And dont make the assumption that every listing agent is out there to lie.
    No wonder our industry gets a bad rep.

  • PortlandHomesForCars

    After you get past the emotional reaction to Redfin's actions, the reality of Redfin's benefit to SEO, publicity, and creating of a marketing database from the required registrations that they can leverage should be obvious.

    Publically, this was supposedly about transparency.  But showing flawed data and giving preferential treatment to Redfin agents when showing the information clearly demonstrates bias and poor execution.
    Strategically, it appears more about seizing an opportunity before anyone else brought it to a national market.

    Strategically, a “win”
    Ethically, a “fail”
    So to quote Loreena Yo above “No wonder our industry gets a bad rap”.

    • http://virtualresults.net Drew Meyers

      When you really think about the hundreds or thousands of man hours that went into building this? I really really doubt they did this just for the publicity/SEO.

      I've worked for a tech company, and I can assure you..and undertaking like this isn't just a small job one developer can do in a few hours. Particularly when working with data from dozens of different MLS' across the country.

  • Russ Bergeron

    This whole issue is a tempest in a teapot.   Redfin – as a broker (most people do not understand this) – has access to the same information that every other brokerage has who is a member of the MLS.  The difference is that they chose to make it available behind their VOW firewall (at least in the Chicago area).  Any bricks and mortar office could do the same.  How many agents/brokers have denigrated one of their compettitors by showing a potential client the production numbers of that compettitor?

    Blaming the MLS data was a cop out.  Had just a few tests been run and verified the results would have been noticeably flawed and taken back for retooling.    The reason it is easy to blame the MLS is because the MLS is not part of the closing.  Do our members want us, the MLS to begin gathering copies of the closing documents to verify that a sale was reported properly?  In the old days MLSs used to review all listing contracts – do we want to revert to those days?  What would it cost to review the 250,000 listings and 100,000 sales that run through our MLS? Maybe we should go back even further in time and let the board/MLS issue the commission checks?

    A few suggestions to MLS members.  When you are involved in a sale from the buyer's side make sure the listing agent/broker properly reports you as participating in the sale. If not then you have something to take to the board/MLS for action.  Don't try to game the system by reporting yourself as the buyer's agent as well as listing agent if that is not the case.  Don't try to game the system by entering outside agent as the buyer's agent when it is not true.

  • Russ in Long Beach

    Glenn, as an agent I applaud you for trying and agree with your idea and approach regarding the Scouting tool. The technical details got in the way and it should have been better vetted but it is also partly due to the draconian rules of the local mls's and the desire to control the data and making its access a challenge. I will not argue the merits of whether the data should be available or not (I believe it should be) but it is the mls's attitude that needs to change.

    Please continue what you are doing. I welcome the challenge and appreciate your approach. I consider changing brokerage but after 25 years I'll be ready to retire in a few. I love the idea of real estate but am only sad to see it have such a negative reputation. I chalk it up to the entry bar being so low.

    And please try not to let the snarky commenter on the blog get to you. As my very wise mother taught me “it rarely what you do but how you do it that counts”.

  • http://www.homeloanninjas.com jason hillard

    I feel fortunate to have lived in a time when these issues are coming to light. I think that my biggest problem with the entire situation (and I'm not an agent) is that Redfin can't guarantee the accuracy of the data because it comes from the MLS. The MLS can't guarantee the accuracy of the data because it comes from human beings. The accountability falls on nameless, faceless people. Not a real strong basis for making a decision.

    This idea is much better suited to a disinterested third party. And trashing your competition in a private appointment, as unprofessional and stupid as it is, is ENTIRELY different than making that data searchable online. 

    And raw data, whether it's accurate or not, is completely useless if you don't have the proper tools and context with which to parse it. 

    The responsibility for that burden doesn't fall on Redfin though.

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  • Candace Hwang

    How about a site that state the proportion of a commission agents get?  I always assumed Redin had the worst agent's in the business.  Why else would they work for peanuts?

    • Janetlarson

      Why doesn't Redfin open THEIR “books” to the public i.e. including how many years of experience the agent's they hire have, and how many deals they do.

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

        Every agent at Redfin has a public profile with the same data and more about our productivity, performance and customer satisfaction.

  • Thomas Johnson

    From a once and future customer – when I saw that you were doing this, it put a smile on my face.  Something like this delights customers.

  • Steve Crossland

    A few thoughts:

    1) We have “surfaced” our own production stats for 5+ years. Simply export data from the MLS in csv format and import into Google Maps and display as “Listings We've Sold” on a map connected to our About Us page. I think evidence of success, for agents who have evidence of success, is a valuable method of differentiation. That said, the “About Us” page isn't even in the top 500 of pages viewed on our website. The “homes we've sold” map gets even fewer page views. The home page, listings and blog articles dominate the viewed pages and dwarf the static website pages. 

    This tells me that actual visitors to our website (and probably the typical Realtor website) are less concerned with immediately learning “About” us than they are looking at active listings and reading blog articles. And, by reading blog articles, they learn more about us than the production stats can reveal. In short, I see no clamoring from consumers to see this production data, though I do think it's very important data and should be made available to consumers who do want to see it. But I don't think the data alone can tell a consumer everything they need to know in selecting an agent.

    2) Redfin lost credibility with this debacle. It was poor execution of a basically good idea. I was glad to see the attempted and assumed it would crash and burn quickly. The Houston Association of Realtors tried this itself a couple of years ago (so it's not a new idea), and received tremendous backlash from agents and shut it down. But Redfin's attempt serves the purpose of raising the awareness of the idea and starting a lot of discussions about it. That's really the main “win” here, is if the conversation continues about MLS data integrity and whether agent boasting/marketing should be verifiable by consumers with a simple and easy search at the local MLS provider site.

    3) Someday, eventually, Redfin will have to grow up and act more mature if it wants to be taken seriously by a large consumer base as well as industry veterans. The idea that it can just crash the party with provocative taunts and drop turds in the punch bowl as a way to earn respect is, I think, a flawed approach. Trying to gain notoriety with an insurgent “stick it in your eye” strategy might result in notoriety, but not respect or a durable brand identity. 

    Some us us enjoy the spectacle and want change in our industry. Because of that, I think we need a Redfin to be stirring the pot. Thanks you for that. Whether RF can adapt and mature, and grow into a respected provider of real estate services to consumers, beyond its small niche, remains to be seen. This outsider badboy Realtor-Hater strategy can only take you so far.

    4) There are NAR Code of Ethcis rules agains SEO manipulation. 

    Standard of Practice 12-10REALTORS®’ obligation to present a true picture in their advertising and representations to the public includes the URLs and domain names they use, and prohibits REALTORS® from:…. deceptively using metatags, keywords or other devices/methods to direct, drive, or divert Internet traffic, or to otherwise mislead consumers. (Adopted 1/07)SteveAustin TX

  • Steve Crossland

    A few thoughts:1) We have “surfaced” our own production stats for 5+ years. Simply export data from the MLS in csv format and import into Google Maps and display as “Listings We've Sold” on a map connected to our About Us page. I think evidence of success, for agents who have evidence of success, is a valuable method of differentiation. That said, the “About Us” page isn't even in the top 500 of pages viewed on our website. The “homes we've sold” map gets even fewer page views. The home page, listings and blog articles dominate the viewed pages and dwarf the static website pages. This tells me that actual visitors to our website (and probably the typical Realtor website) are less concerned with immediately learning “About” us than they are looking at active listings and reading blog articles. And, by reading blog articles, they learn more about us than the production stats can reveal. In short, I see no clamoring from consumers to see this production data, though I do think it's very important data and should be made available to consumers who do want to see it. But I don't think the data alone can tell a consumer everything they need to know in selecting an agent.2) Redfin lost credibility with this debacle. It was poor execution of a basically good idea. I was glad to see the attempted and assumed it would crash and burn quickly. The Houston Association of Realtors tried this itself a couple of years ago (so it's not a new idea), and received tremendous backlash from agents and shut it down. But Redfin's attempt serves the purpose of raising the awareness of the idea and starting a lot of discussions about it. That's really the main “win” here, is if the conversation continues about MLS data integrity and whether agent boasting/marketing should be verifiable by consumers with a simple and easy search at the local MLS provider site.3) Someday, eventually, Redfin will have to grow up and act more mature if it wants to be taken seriously by a large consumer base as well as industry veterans. The idea that it can just crash the party with provocative taunts and drop turds in the punch bowl as a way to earn respect is, I think, a flawed approach. Trying to gain notoriety with an insurgent “stick it in your eye” strategy might result in notoriety, but not respect or a durable brand identity. Some us us enjoy the spectacle and want change in our industry. Because of that, I think we need a Redfin to be stirring the pot. Thanks you for that. Whether RF can adapt and mature, and grow into a respected provider of real estate services to consumers, beyond its small niche, remains to be seen. This outsider badboy Realtor-Hater strategy can only take you so far.4) There are NAR Code of Ethcis rules agains SEO manipulation. 
    Standard of Practice 12-10REALTORS®’ obligation to present a true picture in their advertising and representations to the public includes the URLs and domain names they use, and prohibits REALTORS® from:…. deceptively using metatags, keywords or other devices/methods to direct, drive, or divert Internet traffic, or to otherwise mislead consumers. (Adopted 1/07)SteveAustin TX

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  • SFAgent

    Redfin, coming from an active Realtor in San Francisco, you have a great website, but really, how many people in leadership do you have with a real estate background??? Instead of pouring money into this idea, which is a great tool, you should have conferred with agents who they themselves would have told you that not all agents are associated to different MLS's, hence the reason for incomplete information. Come on gang, get with the program, hire some employees and managers who have their heads in the real estate market, who use the MLS, not engineers who sit as desks. I am not sure how your investors thought about this failed idea and what could have been done to be more accurate. When I want my website built, I dont hire a photographer, I hire a web designer, get it?!?

  • Win

    This is not a question of “we have nothing to hide”. The PR spin saying, “We just didn't get the data right” tries to gloss over the fact that this is a complete misuse of our MLS data! It was never intended that someone could massage it in order to start showing any consumer this type of information to now compare (or pit) one agent against another.

    Some forget or don't stop to think that the original idea of displaying MLS property data on the Internet was sort of like offering the consumer an “electronic Homes Magazine” to surf through as a way to hopefully entice them to contact the office or an agent to want to learn more about a certain property. In the beginning, they were viewing pretty much what anyone could see in a newspaper ad or in a Homes Magazine – the MLS number, property address, asking price, number of bedrooms and baths, remarks describing the property in more detail, along with a few other items… just enough to capture their interest. By only allowing a limited amount of data to be displayed, the consumer still had to contact a real estate agent if they really wanted to learn more, thus keeping the agent and brokerage firm in the center of the buying and selling process.

    We started going down this “slippery slope” when some now felt we should be displaying to visitors
    virtually every field of data that any agent can view or print out in a
    Full Listing from the MLS. About the only fields that are still being
    suppressed are the two showing the names of the seller and the seller's
    phone number to call directly for an appointment and bypass an agent
    altogether! As a consumer, armed with all of this information, why would they ever need to call the agent to ask more?? Guess what? They wouldn't! They
    would only need an agent to open the door for them… and if they could
    figure out a way to get around meeting an agent at all by calling the
    owner direct, they would probably try.

    Far greater oversight by each MLS needs to be in place
    as to how our data in a RETS feed can be used or how much can be
    displayed to the consumer. The agent with the most sales in a certain area may or may not be the
    best one for the job of working with that consumer as a buyer or seller. Furthermore, these comparison searches certainly put the newest members of our profession at a
    great disadvantage (each of us was “new” at one time) if the consumer can now compare their sales record
    (or lack of) on the Web against the long time veteran. Sure it is
    factual, but that doesn't mean the consumer should have access to it! Again, more “garbage in – garbage out” analysis
    tools that we are just giving away to the uninformed public.

    This incident is just the latest
    example of how others can and will try to invent new ways to take our
    collective data to create displays to the consumer that were never
    intended by us. This is just the latest example of TMI – too much information! Findng more ways to shoot ourselves in the foot… this is getting ridiculous!

    • http://twitter.com/rayschmitz Ray Schmitz

      This one comment captures several of the key issues:
      1) To what extend does giving the consumer more information result in saving the agent work vs.working the agent out of being relevant?
      2) Should the MLS never be used other than as originally intended, or given the advent of Zillow, Trulia, et al., should the MLS evolve, too?
      3) Who should decide what information is shown?

      There is one thing that NOBODY ever talks about however: how many agents have bothered to ask their past, present, or future clients and customers whether those consumers would like this information or not? A core premise of sales is ask what your customer want so it is very interesting that so many agents only look at it from only their own point of view, and not from that of those whose business they want.

  • Harry

    What a bummer. Why not allow agents to opt in or out of providing the information?  Or be like Zillow where you can update the facts if you're the home owner, someone with mis-leading data could self-report, or explain that they were part of a team.

    To assume a consumer would be so naive to solely base their decision on whom to hire on this report is not giving them enough credit. But fact checking could at least lead to some important questions as follow up, “I noticed that you said you're a top producer, why have you only closed on two properties this year?”  “Your homes seems to stay up an above average  amount of time, why is that?”  If an agent can honestly explain “the rest of the story”  than the page would mean nothing.

    Availability of information has ultimately helped consumers in virtually every business, yet it doesn't take away from the need for wise interpretation of that data.  There are less accurate sites out there that have similar info to the scouting report for agents.  Heck it's pretty easy to check up on anyone.

    Sad that this had to go.  And here's hoping that it returns.

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  • Steve

    > Why not allow agents to opt in or out of providing the information? 

    You can opt out if you want already, when entering the listing. At least you can in the Austin market. But then it becomes a question of whether or not the additional exposure on third party sites benefits the seller. I think it does, overall. 

    I can enter a listing and say “no” to Realtor.com and “VOW”. But then when the seller goes online to look for the listing in whatever place she does, it won't be there. And the buyer/looker driving through the neighborhood won't see it on the Realtor.com, Trulia or Redfin iPhone app. 

    Our industry missed it's chance over a decade ago to take a different fork in the road. We were let down. Now we have all this.

    Steve

  • http://www.IvonaTheRealtor.com Ivona

    I know you getting a lot of heat for the scouting report, but I, for one (although I know many GOOD professionals who share my sentiment), applaud you for trying to bring more transparency to our business. Things have gotten better since the shift, but I still see so much unprofessional behavior in the market, and I can only assume that it comes from the agents who simply don’t do enough transactions to understand fully how our business operates and what is crucial while doing business, especially in a challenging market. I think it would help consumers tremendously while choosing the right agent to represent them, which would then turn into a positive experience, and maybe then some people would stop treating us like used car salesmen (although there is really nothing wrong with a good used car salesman, not sure why they are getting such a bad rep), which I know good Realtors are not. I sure wish the MLS data was more accurate so the report could take off. It would probably take a concerted effort of many agents and their boards and MLS, so I wanted you to know that he may have more support than opposition in this regard.
     
    They thought Copernicus was crazy when he said the earth was not flat…. Why stop at a first unsuccessful try? Keep up the good work. I have had good experience with agents from your company.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=693221484 Holly Kick

    i loved it, unfortunately most real estate agents are sort of “crooks” , who earn on selling and reselling the same house again and again and again. It is these people who have brought down the market.  Anyways  i am sure even if data was right the point is we dont care how many homes were sold by an agent, what i care about is how good the agent is … If i say i will not take any commission from the buyer, see how many buyer will flock around me, even though i am not a real estate agent … so basically i feel , real estate transactions have been made artifically complex so that these agents can make a living , just like doctors who keep charging high and forcing unnecessary tests.  I wish there is sanity to greed and everyone including homeowners and buyers understand the realities.

    • http://jphilip.com J Philip Faranda

      Holly, on nights when I work so late that I miss putting my kids to bed because I was going the extra mile for a client, remarks like yours are so fun to read.

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  • Ali

    This was a very valuable tool and I'm sad to see Redfin takes this tool away. Here are a few suggestions I have:
    1. Considering that buying a house is one of the biggest investments a person makes in their lifetime, buyers and sellers deserve and must require more transparency in this process.
    2. Transparency is a good thing and the only people who are opposed to it are those who have something to hide and who has been benefiting financially from lack thereof and you know who you are
    3. Competition is a good thing for consumers and with information technology growing so rapidly, it will just be a matter of time before all these data becomes public on the internet. There are many websites such as servicemagic, angieslist, yelp, kayak and many more that allow you to rate various professional and services including doctors, lawyers, etc or price shop and compare insurance plans, cars, travel info etc. Bottom line is, real estate is no different, It's very typical for many individuals to resist transparency as witnessed in history many times but eventually this will be the norm
    4. Redfin was not charging website users a fee for this information and therefore in my opinion had no responsibility to guarantee the accuracy of this data. They have simply organized the info into a very user friendly format that was easy to understand for buyers/sellers. Redfin should just place strong disclaimer language that says we get this data from MLS and this may or may not be completely accurate, use it at your own risk. I think all buyers/seller will understand and appreciate this approach.      
    5. I know the data was not complete, however little data is better than no data. I think redfin should have allowed agents take some control of their page and to add any other transaction they completed that may not be reported by MLS. If any of the reported data is inaccurate it's upon the agent to fix that info with MLS who is source of the data, not redfin who is merely the reporter of the data.

    In summary consumers pay a high price for realtor's services and they deserve to be able to objectively compare real estate agents based on their transaction history from an independent source (not from agent's mouth). Every profession has good and bad individuals working in it and this tool is one way to help you identify the good agents from bad agents. It's just one tool but it's a very strong tool. I hope Redfin pick this project back up again despite the oposition and if they don't I have no doubt that someone else will.

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