Dang. That's Fast.

In a real estate world suddenly frenzied with competition, Redfin just released Instant Updates, the first* major service for immediately alerting home-buyers about new listings and price drops. Now, 15 – 30 minutes after a real estate agent lists a home for sale, folks using Redfin to search for listings in that area will get an email alert. Users of any other major real estate website have to wait until the next day.

What does a day matter? Well, 17% of the homes that debuted and sold since the beginning of this year went under contract within three days of their debut. Giving our customers an extra day to get into the home and decide about an offer is a crucial competitive advantage, particularly when we now see home-buyers going door to door to ask if anyone in the neighborhood might be willing to sell.

To get instant updates, just click Email me new listings in the results box that appears on the left whenever Redfin presents search results in a map:

If you’re already getting daily listing updates, you can switch over to Instant Updates by opening the menu under your name at the top right of every page on Redfin.com. From there, just choose My Alerts & Emails:

Then scroll about halfway down the page, and change all your alerts from Daily to Instant:

And then brace yourself. New listings will start coming fast and furious:

You can always unsubscribe once you find a home.

You can get Instant Updates on individual properties too. If you mark a home as a favorite, you’ll get an Instant Update when the price changes, when it first goes under contract, and when it finally sells or comes back on market. We’ll also alert you if a Redfin agent tours the home and then shares her first-hand observations. Folks who are already using Redfin to track their favorite homes from day to day can switch to Instant Updates by accessing the My Alerts & Emails page.

How did we get so fast? Redfin was able to develop Instant Updates because we’ve made a massive investment over the past five years in direct, high-frequency integration with the local Multiple Listing Services real estate agents use to list properties and record sales. While other websites get partial or indirect access to some MLSs, only companies with real estate agents get full, immediate access to all the broker-listed homes for sale. As part of our commitment to getting data faster than just about anyone else, we tell the world exactly how often we refresh our listings, for every market we serve.

And as the web shifts from periodically updated pages to a continuous stream of new listings, prices and photos, the near-real-time data access Redfin enjoys as a market-maker is becoming more important. We expect over the coming year to deliver Instant Alerts through iPhone and Android alerting systems, and Facebook and Twitter timelines. I’m sure more real-time services will emerge over the next few years.

But as Redfin becomes a more frequent guest in your online life, we have to make sure we mind our manners.  Already, 264 customers have spent the past month helping  us design and test Instant Updates. One was able to beat out other bidders on a hot property because she heard about it first through Redfin. But mostly, we’ve been the ones who benefited: our customers helped us change up the subject line so that each update didn’t get bunched under one email thread, and asked us to allow different searches to send email alerts on different schedules.

The one request we didn’t address: a link that opens the listing in our iPhone and iPad apps, rather than in a web browser. That’s coming later this month.

For now, what I’m excited about is how Instant Updates change the speed of the game. In a world where a Las Vegas chef can now buy a fish from the Adriatic before the fisherman has even returned to harbor, it’s crazy to think that real estate updates have appeared like a 1950′s newspaper, queuing information into a new edition that shows up once a morning rather than in real time. Over the next few years, we hope that Redfin and other technology-powered brokers can help to make the whole real estate market better-informed, and faster too.

*Update: Sawbuck offered real-time alerts before Redfin did, as Sawbuck CEO Guy Wolcott kindly pointed out in the comments. When we get excited about being the first to offer a feature, we’ll check the Sawbuck site out first, just as we do the other big sites out there.


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  • http://alexlod.com Alex Loddengaard

    Incredibly impressive guys! Hats off to the engineering team!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/X664HJKFULT2VZW5X33PVHJT54 James Alley


    You're right that speed is a major competitive advantage. When I bought my house two years ago, I benefitted from seeing the listing on Redfin as soon as it became available, and getting down there to see it when they had their first open house the next day. It was one-day turnaround, not instant, but that was still better than anyone else could offer at the time. We got our offer in before the property was even on many prospective buyers' radar.

  • Paul S.

    Outstanding!  Love it.

  • http://www.corporate-directory.net/ Johan

    I appreciate you for beginning this up. This web site is one area that’s
    needed online, somebody after a little bit originality. Helpful job for
    bringing a new challenge to the web! 
    Address Book


  • http://twitter.com/guywolcott Guy Wolcott


    How have you defined “major service” to include Redfin and not Sawbuck? We've had real-time email alerts for over two years. This seems to be a pattern: you also have the highest-rated iPhone app and the first VOW (so long as you define the universe to not include us).

    Now, I think the feature sounds great for your users. So, kudos. But you don't always have to be “first” or “best” in every press release, especially when it is “truthiness” but not the truth.

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

      I define major service as the ones we checked! We’ll edit the post to give you the credit you’re due! And we’ll check out Sawbuck when making future claims.

    • http://blog.redfin.com/ GlennKelman

      I define major services as the ones we checked! I'll edit the post to give credit where credit is due, and add Sawbuck to the list of websites we check before making a claim… My apologies Guy.

      • http://twitter.com/guywolcott Guy Wolcott

        Thanks for the asterisk and quick reply. No thanks for misspelling my name :-).

  • Paul W

    Bang! You guys are soooooo money. Great feature leveraging your technology advantage. Now when is Craigslist gng to catch up?

  • chiqy09

    Wow! Great Feature. You guys are really Genius!  
    Speed is what Real Estate Market needs and an advantage to the whole industry.The whole real estate market will be excited to be better-informed and faster.

  • Cafhock

    What a website. Thanks

  • http://fsrefund.com/homes-for-sale/ca/orange-county/fullerton/ fullerton homes for sale

    its great thanks love to read it. real estate market is a big market all over the world. this is informative post.

  • Kim Rama

    Great job, folks. I'm becoming a real estate nerd, and in my recent house search, found your site (and the daily/hourly updates) to be by far the most current (the only exception being the MLS search my Realtor set up for me). After blogging about my findings, I just heard from a friend who had read through my review of the various sites/tools available and she would up finding a house using Redfin! She was able to be the first to see it and first to put an offer on it in the increasingly competitive Austin market. It was the speed at which you guys displayed current information that made all the difference :)

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  • http://www.facebook.com/paulsundling Paul Sundling

    fantastic news.  I'll definitely be using that next year when I go for rental property #3.

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