Redfin real estate- ready to kick the agents out?


Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Dec 28, 2005
I'm in the process of getting my condo ready to sell, as I described in this thread:

and I've been looking for a way to sell that will give me the market exposure I can get with a full-service realtor, but without paying their huge commissions.

It looks like I might have found just what I need. Redfin is a new real estate brokerage with a "self service" business model, and a low $2000 flat fee for their selling services.

They are only in the Seattle and some California markets right now.

If anyone has used their services I'd like to hear impressions. I have seen a couple of their signs up in my neighborhood, and toured a 2 million dollar open home listed through redfin, so they seem to be for real.

I've heard sour grapes comments from realtors, that they will boycott Redfin, so I shouldn't expect buyers agents to push their clients towards my property. But I'm guessing these days most buyers search the MLS electronically over the web rather than asking their agents what properties are available, and my property will show up there with Redfin.

And are there any other competitors to Redfin that I should consider? The ones I know of are ziprealty and helpusell, both of which charge higher fees.

PS: If you are buying a home, Redfin will refund 2/3 of the buy-side commission for using them!
Sorry, no knowledge of Redfin here. While I'm sure many buyers use the internet to search for properties, (we sure did) I think there is a very high percentage (including those who do search on the internet) that form a relationship with an agent (hopefully a "buyer's agent" at least) and depend on that person. Lots of folks find it very convenient to let them do the work (especailly arranging to see many houses on one day, something that would be a PITA to do on your own). Since it costs buyers nothing to use an agent, they do. (Of course, it does cost them something, since the broker's commission, no matter who pays it, drives up the cost of the transaction). If I've got this right, then anything that reduces the appeal of your home to agents (e.g reduced commssions t the buyer's agent) will reduce the number of prospective buyers who will be taken to your house.
- Also, it is possible people who are using an agent and NOT doing the research online themselves are the ones most likely to pay top dollar for a home (they are less likely to be doing a cool analytical assessment and looking for the very best bargain, more likely to be influenced by intangibles)

Overall--just be careful that, in trying to save $8k in commissions (or whatever) you don't wind up having to accept an offer that is 10K lower or leave the house on the market for 6 extra months.
free4now said:
But I'm guessing these days most buyers search the MLS electronically over the web rather than asking their agents what properties are available....

I didn't know it was possible to search the MLS over the web? I know that some sites allow you to search their listings, but I did not know that there was a way to search all MLS listings?
yup, just google "mls free" ... no $$ but some want a survey completed and/or are monitored by realtors who will begin cold calling/emailing.

But the mls is definatley the way to go. for 2k it'ld be worth it just to be in the mls.
What is "MLS" ? I know what it stands for - but is the list owned by the National Association of Realtors ?

If you use something like Redfin - does that mean it will show up in "MLS listings" ?

There's a website that for $300 you get "on MLS listings" for 6 months. Has "Realtor" logo on website.

If you list with these - I'm not sure how well you'll be "seen". You may come up on "MLS listings" - but at the very bottom.

Our newspaper has property listings online - the full service realtor listings show up first on list, well organized and sorted. Then the "for sale by owner" listings show up at bottom in random order.
Redfin listings will show up on MLS, which in my area is available on the web at but Redfin listings I think won't go onto which is the NAR website and also a major search portal for buyers.

What I like about Redfin is that they seem to give just the services I want, but nothing more: local-style lockbox and sign, help with gathering a disclosure packet, and help with negotiating the final deal.

I did some reading and the selling feature on Redfin is very new in the SF Bay Area... they are a startup company, still not profitable, and the number of homes that have sold through them is relatively low. On the one hand I think that would mean I'd get relatively attentive service because the more satisfied customers they get the more they can raise more venture funding. Kinda like how in the late 90's there were all sorts of freebies available from websites that just wanted to list you as a customer to raise more funding. I think the $2000 fee I pay probably doesn't cover the amount of service I'd get. On the other hand there may be glitches as their processes aren't well tested.
I don't know anything specifically about Redfin. Last year, I did talk to a several brokers and client from similar (but more established) discount real estate agency Help-U-Sell. The feedback I got from clients was that while they didn't do all the stuff that a full price broker does, overall they were happy with them.

I believe I recommend a discount realtor original so I'd be interested in hearing how it turns out. Good luck, it seems to that California Real Estate is either really hard to buy, or really hard to sell, at equilibrium last for about 48 hours ;)
I used a discount broker in Phoenix, Az. Paid approx. $350. Did it again here in Florida, but market is so bad I took it off market and rented it.

The one advise that I can give you is this. If you are not there to talk to realtors when they call you to show property, often times they will not show property, even if the listing says it has lock box on it.

That is my experience. In Phoenix when I did it, I was temporarily living in the unit, so it worked just fine and it was showed by lots of realtors. Here in Florida, I was not living in unit, and missed calls from Realtors, and hense it did not get shown often. So the long and short of it is. If you are home "most of the time' to answer calls, it should work ok for you.
Well, I decided to go with Redfin, and signed a listing agreement. I'll have my place on the MLS Monday May 14. So far it seems like what I expected: The agent I'm working with is overloaded and has trouble returning my calls when he says he will, but everything seems to be proceeding as it should.

One wrinkle that was annoying is that they tried to raise the fee on me. When I submitted the online form to start a listing, their system charged me their $3000 (raised from $2000 a couple of weeks ago) fee on my credit card. Then the agent said their system is broken and the real fee for California is higher, $4000. They say the $3000 price listed on their website is for Seattle only, their main market (even though their website does not list a separate CA fee). So I said I'm not going to pay $4000 and after a "talk with the manager", the price was back to $3000. Seems like one of those growing pains things, annoying but to me worth the trouble.
There are a few times in life when DIY doesn't always work so well. I submit RE is one of those.

The agents have most of the buyers, and that's not going to change. However, good luck with your sale, and let us know how it works out for you..........

I personally would NEVER sell my house myself............ :)
The agents have most of the buyers, and that's not going to change.

I think the move is towards internet searches w/o a realtor. The last three I bought (going back ~7 years were all inernet searches (done by DW or myself). Then I call the listing broker directly.
We bought all but 1 5-plex through RE agents. Been lucky enough to sell 6 houses with neither seller nor buyer's agents, 3 to people we knew, 2 to a developer who cold called us, 1 in a month through a sign in a window. Best of luck to you.
tryan said:
I think the move is towards internet searches w/o a realtor. The last three I bought (going back ~7 years were all inernet searches (done by DW or myself). Then I call the listing broker directly.

Fine as a buyer -- the seller pays the commision. If you went thru a buyer's agent, it would have been the same thing, though he or she might have saved you some hassle, found properties you missed (they call them pocket listings - one's that haven't yet made the MLS).

I think it's a trickier decision as a seller.
Free4now, can't you also claim your condo on Zillow and note it for sale?

Costs nothing.
if i was trying to sell id offer the broker an additional commission of say 10,000.00 if they sell my house within 30 days. id want all their focus on my house not someone elses.

Not much a realtor can do if the house is not priced right ... my guess is the realtors will take the 10k AND reduce the price. Little too rich for my blood.
I think that's the issue tryan. The main reason I think realtors tend to make homes sell is that they are good at talking the sellers down on the price. Almost all sales originate with someone finding the property on MLS, not by anything the selling agent did outside of listing it.

I interviewed four realtors before deciding to list with redfin. I noticed that the ones that sold more homes per year were much more aggressive about telling me why I needed to price my home low.

BTW I had my property listed on zillow "Make me move" for a couple of months. I got three email inquiries from that, and none got any further than one round of questions.
I have been wondering how effective the "Make Me Move" would be in selling a residence. There is one posted in my neighborhood but I think the asking price is much higher than market.

In our area listing and selling prices have held but time on the market has increased significantly. My read on our area that if you need to sell ASAP the seller must market aggressively (location and condition make a big difference).
I have used full service realtors (many times) and Help-U-Sell. The difference was mostly in the specific agents. Our Help-U-Sell agent/owner was a former lawyer and was a jerk. He almost blew the final sale buy pushing the buyer too hard. I had to just about fire him to make him back off.

I would say it all depends on what you need to sell your house. In a slow market a full service agency has the a high speed market..just put a handwritten For Sale sign in your window and a pile of Offers on your porch.

Our most recent sale was done using a full service but a very local agency (3 people). The rproperty was in an isolated area and we wanted someone who actually lived there to act as our agent. They knew the place and could speak from personal experience...especially valuable when selling a cabin in the mountains during winter. They worked out great and when THE seller finally hit the radar screen the deal went well and we got a full price offer in exchange for a delayed closing. There were some rough spots but it all closed in mid-April...opening the door to my ER. week from today!

Life is good. :D
I just met my redfin agent in person today when he came to look at the property. He mentioned that Monday and most of Tuesday he's going to be unavailable because of the huge number of calls they are expecting after the Sunday 60 minutes story. It does feel exciting to be on the forefront of Real Estate 2.0. They've apparently only sold 30 or so homes in California so far.
I've had a couple of my buyers agents (paid by the seller, so not really 'mine') specifically NOT show me homes that had low buyers agent commissions on them. I found my two finalists on my own looking at four years ago.

I had a good agent on the recent purchase. She wasnt pushing the one we picked very much, and after the sale was done called me up all excited because she got paid 4% on it instead of 3 and hadnt realized it was a higher commission sale. Came by and gave me about 4k in gift cards to share the wealth.

I think "real estate 2.0" will happen, but the existing agent structure isnt going to go off into the sunset quietly...
As a seller I wouldn't expect a RedFin agent to hold my hand the way a 6% agent might. Their business model can't support that. As a seller you will need to take a lot more responsibility facilitating the sale.

They won't show your property, but they will put an agent's lock-box on the door for other Realtors to use. Basically that means that either you show your home or the buyer's realtor shows the home. Having a third party show your home can be convenient because if the potential buyer has a question it will need to be relayed to you and you will have time to think before you respond.

Life will get interesting when both seller and buyer are using RedFin. Maybe sellers should find a mute house-sitter to be present at the showing.
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