New Version of Site Takes Advantage of Legal Settlement to Publish Data Previously Limited to Brokers
SEATTLE, April 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Online real estate broker Redfin today expanded to Long Island and Westchester County in New York, and to California's Central Valley, including Sacramento. The new markets extend Redfin's listings reach by nearly 20%. Today's release of Redfin's site also adds more than 200 data fields to its listing database, newly available due to the settlement between the Department of Justice and the National Association of Realtors.
Redfin brings to the new markets a new way to buy and sell homes, combining online tools with a team of real estate agents for in-person home tours and expert guidance. Unlike traditional brokers, the company pays its agents customer-satisfaction bonuses, not commissions, and surveys every client, publishing every survey result alongside each agent's deal history.
As part of the upgrade to the website, Redfin also now features more powerful analytics for charting sale-to-list price ratios in every neighborhood, the ability to embed those analytics in other sites, a mortgage calculator with rates that update daily, usability enhancements that make it easier to filter searches by price and number of bedrooms, and local agent recommendations based on reviews from clients who purchased in the area.
New Areas Served by Both Redfin Agents, Partner Agents
The opening of two new markets, the first since June 2008 for Redfin, is part of a new partner-aided strategy to reach every major market in the U.S. Redfin plans three additional markets for 2009, bringing Redfin's total to 13. To serve such large new areas, Redfin will offer service from its own agents and from partner agents. In both cases, clients search for homes using Redfin's site, then choose an agent based on the agent's online deal history and customer reviews.
Redfin's own agents work on a team to offer property tours and handle escrow, using online tools to schedule the tours and prepare offers; clients of these agents get a refund of as much as 50% of the commission. Partner agents work one-on-one with the client; these clients get a refund of 15% of the commission. In either case, Redfin surveys the client and publishes his review, with the agent receiving a bonus that varies with customer satisfaction.
Direct Service in Long Island, Partners in Westchester
In New York, Redfin now offers service from its own agents in Suffolk County. Redfin partners offer service in Westchester County, with support for real estate search in Nassau and Putnam County as well as Queens. Redfin is not offering search or brokerage service in Manhattan or the Hamptons because brokers in those markets do not share listing information via a Multiple Listing Service (MLS).
To build a team of agents, Redfin hired Michael Daly, the market manager for Redfin in New York. "Redfin is one of the only brokerages expanding into new markets at all," said Daly. "We keep growing because our site offers more listing information than any other, and that combined with our hands-on customer service appeals to the kinds of demanding, data-driven consumers out in the market today. We all know that New York is bursting with progressive professionals, so Redfin's principles of transparency, expert guidance and no sales pressure are a perfect fit."
In the Central Valley, Redfin offers service from its own agents in El Dorado and Placer Counties as well as northeast Sacramento County. Partner agents will serve Yolo County and the remainder of Sacramento County; the site will also support real estate search in San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Merced Counties, with plans to offer partner service later this year.
More Data After DoJ-NAR Settlement
The new version of Redfin is also one of the first to take advantage of data released by Multiple Listing Services as a result of last year's settlement between the Department of Justice and the National Association of Realtors, which required listing services to allow brokers to publish any data that brokers can disclose in-person. The deadline for compliance, which involved a new format for sharing data known as a Virtual Office Website (VOW), was February 15, 2009.
In many markets, Redfin now publishes data about the seller's mortgage, the cumulative days on market that a property has been for sale, even if it has been re-listed to appear new; and the price history. In Westchester County, Redfin is one of the first to display listings' address on a map without requiring user registration. More listing information will become available as listing services update their systems to comply with the new rules, and Redfin intends to publish all of it.
"More liberal data-sharing policies among listing services and a new partner-assisted strategy have opened a new phase of growth for Redfin," said Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman. "We used to evaluate new markets in terms of what the local listing service would let us publish, and the ground our own agents had to cover. Now that the settlement is in effect and our partners can help us in outlying areas - and now that we've got new markets like Chicago contributing profits very quickly -- we expect to expand quickly. Since Redfin has reached only about 1/7th of the U.S. market, there's lots of room to grow."
Redfin (www.redfin.com) is the real estate industry's first online brokerage, combining a customer-focused team of real estate agents with online tools for making the process of buying or selling a home easy. Redfin is the only major search site to feature listings direct from broker databases as well as for-sale-by-owner and foreclosure properties from across the Internet. The company pays it agents customer-satisfaction bonuses, not commissions, and surveys every client, publishing each survey as well as details on the agent's negotiating performance and deal history. Redfin's service is available in the metropolitan areas of Boston, Chicago, Seattle, Washington DC, Baltimore, New York's Long Island and Westchester County as well as most of California, including the San Francisco Bay Area, Southern California and Sacramento. To keep track of Redfin's daring exploits, subscribe to blog.redfin.com.
SOURCE Redfin Corporation