A Beautiful Find

Redfin today launched Redfin Collections, a gorgeous new Redfin.com feature for you to share sets of listing photos with your friends, your real estate agent and the vast Redfin community of real estate aficionados:

Explore Redfin Collections

Already the thousands of Redfin fans invited to a September trial of Collections have created a catalog of desire, collecting photos of modern architecture and celebrity mansions.

You can also draw on an inexhaustible supply of design ideas, from luscious gardens, to breathtaking kitchensgiant windows, and overstuffed libraries.

And of course there are a few wacky Collections, too: pretty pretty poniesPanda Pandemoniumextreme taxidermy, and palatial tree-houses.

A Big Change for Redfin
The whole idea of Collections is a big change for Redfin. It wasn’t easy for the world’s nerdiest real estate website, with numbers everywhere about people, properties and prices, to get gushy about pretty pictures. But some of our most artistic engineers and agents fought for this change, on the website and in our culture.

Just look at how a Collection opens, with the photos taking their places on the screen like little kids in a school-play. We rarely go out of our way for touches like that, but at last we wanted to do justice to the sense of discovery and desire that are the best parts about a home search.

When I was reviewing the final Collections — and here you have to imagine the pursed lips of the food critic in “Ratatouille,” expecting not to be impressed — I was surprised by the intensity of my emotions over a perfect little bookshelf or a sudden vast expanse of green. It gave me a sense of what could be and a touch of what might have been.

It sounds silly but it really made me think of a poem someone made me read in high school, where “footfalls echo in the memory, down the passage we did not take, towards the door we never opened, into the rose garden.” There are a lot of rose gardens in Redfin Collections, a lot of emotion.

A Big Change for the Industry
Collections are also a big change for the real estate industry, which has had a fitful relationship with social networks. Home-buying after all is often competitive rather than social. And home-sellers are rightly sensitive about the things people say about their place.

This is probably why no broker has developed online social tools for website users to share real estate information with others. And it’s also why Redfin had to build our own social tools, because the privacy in real estate is tricky, and we had to get it just right.

Redfin’s Collections don’t feature pictures of pretty dresses or pieces of chicken; we feature people’s homes. The owners may want the photos removed from the web once the house is no longer for sale. The listing agent is entitled to attribution for the photos.

Redfin Collections includes not only these safeguards, but also the real-estate context that a general photo-sharing site can’t: for example, the price and location of each home featured in a Collection; access to full, accurate details on the property; and a way to actually see the home in person.

How to Create a Collection
To access Collections, just click the new “More” menu that appears in the header of every page on Redfin’s site:

Redfin Home Page

To start your own Collection, just click the plus sign in the pop-up button that appears at the top right of a listing photo whenever your mouse hovers above it:

Add to Collections

Then give the collection a name, and add a caption to the first photo:

Collections Map Slideshow
Once you click Add Photo, you’ve created a Collection! When you add subsequent photos to a Collection, we’ll ask whether you want to contribute to an existing Collection or to start a new one.

Everyone can see any Collection, but once a home sells, individual home photos within the Collection may be limited to registered users, depending on what’s allowed in local listing agreements.

We also offer comments on photos, but with similar limits, based on whether the seller permits comments in the listing agreement:

Pacific Palisades

If the seller doesn’t agree to comments, we don’t even allow a caption on the photo.

Of course, we make it easy to share Collections on Facebook, Twitter or via email. And we let you subscribe to a Collection, notifying you whenever a new photo of a gorgeous kitchen or a quirky bathroom is added.

Our hope is that we’ve found a way to let people share what they love about real estate while still respecting the rights of sellers and their agents.

The conversation about the homes we dream about — and laugh about, and can’t stop thinking about — has always been happening, and real estate agents have always been a part of it, even now as it moves online with Redfin Collections.

Many thanks to the whole Collections team, which rallied to get Collections out the door by year-end, and to the thousands of early users who helped us get it done right.

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