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Redfin Launches Partner Program, Announces Expansion Plans

February 11, 2009

SEATTLE, Feb. 11 /PRNewswire/ — Online real estate broker Redfin today announced partnerships with more than a dozen brokerages to give clients new service choices in hundreds of cities across the US. The company also released a new version of its website that automatically publishes customer-service reviews and transaction histories for its own agents and those of its partners. Redfin is the first company to publish every transaction and every review for all of its agents.

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Working with agents from other brokers is a major addition to Redfin’s business strategy, which until now had relied exclusively on serving clients in major metropolitan areas through Redfin’s own agents. The goal of the new, open strategy is to bring Redfin’s values of fanatical service, performance and value to markets Redfin cannot afford to serve directly.

New Strategy Offers Consumers Candor, Choice

Unlike websites that sell visitors’ contact information to an undisclosed agent for a fee, Redfin’s partner program puts the consumer in control. Consumers choose an agent to work with based on a profile that shows the details of every transaction since December 15, 2007 – as well as every review Redfin was able to obtain for those transactions. Redfin also surveys every person that it refers to the agent, regardless of whether a sale occurred, and publishes those reviews to the agent’s profile.

Redfin also plans later this year to offer partner agents the same tools Redfin has developed for its own agents to schedule home tours and prepare offers. Already, Redfin includes partner agent’s posts on Redfin Forums in the agent’s Redfin profile, and allows partners to monitor traffic to their listings.

Quality Control: Reference Checks, In-Person Interview, 130+ Average Transactions

Before accepting an agent as a partner, Redfin interviewed each partner agent in person, validated that each had completed at least 15 deals and checked customer references, eliminating nearly half the candidates originally slated to participate. The average partner has completed more than 130 transactions.

Redfin Refunds Half Its Fee

For every transaction completed by a partner agent, Redfin earns a referral fee typical for the industry, 30% of the agent’s commission. But half of that fee is then credited to the consumer, an amount usually worth more than $1,000. If the client is unhappy with the service, Redfin refunds its entire referral fee to the customer. Redfin rewards agents for high customer-service scores with a lower referral fee, and removes agents with poor reviews from the program. The rate may change in the future.

Redfin will continue to be a consumer-driven business, so partner agents will not pay Redfin any money except when a customer successfully closes on a home. And Redfin will continue to offer direct service from its own agents in the same major metropolitan areas it has always covered. But if the partner program is successful, Redfin plans to offer consumers in its core markets a choice of partner agents and Redfin agents as well.

Redfin Brought Transparency to Listing Search, Now Agent Search

With the website released today, Redfin offers the same profile page for its own agents as for its partner agents, showing the neighborhoods where they are active, every one of the deals they have worked on and the customer reviews when available for each. Redfin has offered a profile of each of its own agents since August 2008, but until now the profiles were manually updated, and only included the most recent 10 deals, with no ability to segment reviews by neighborhood.

“We are bringing the same transparency to agent search that we have brought to the home search,” said Redfin Chief Technology Officer Michael Young. “Redfin made its bones by giving consumers freakish depth on listings: a listing’s location on a map, days on market, history of price reductions, last-sale price and all the photos and descriptions available from broker databases. Now publishing real-time brokerage data and unedited client reviews lets consumers see for themselves where their agent has sold houses and at what prices, how clients rated the agent’s service and what they said about their agent.”

Scaling Redfin’s Business

Working with partners will allow Redfin to expand its website more quickly without hiring a large number of its own agents. Over the past year, Redfin’s site had already increased traffic 300+%, faster than any other major real estate website, but often in areas that the company couldn’t afford to serve with its own employees. As a result, Redfin offered online search in areas where it did not offer any brokerage services, or any other way to make money.

With this release, Redfin’s partner service reaches 9 new counties with more than 70,000 listings.

California

  • Southern California’s Inland Empire including parts of Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
  • Ventura County
  • Solano County
  • Sonoma County
  • Napa County
  • Santa Cruz County

Washington: Kitsap County

Illinois: south Cook County

Over the next three months, Redfin plans to offer partner service in the following areas:

  • Palm Desert, California
  • Thurston County, Washington
  • Will County, Illinois
  • Monterey County, California
  • south and east Pierce County, Washington
  • northern Snohomish County, Washington
  • eastern King County, Washington

For Redfin to open an area to partner service, that area must attract at least 20,000 monthly listing views on Redfin’s site so that there is enough business to support a choice of partner agents. Agents who want to apply to become a partner can apply online.

Partner Program Drives Growth to New Markets

Beyond serving the areas surrounding Redfin’s existing markets, the new partner strategy is also driving Redfin’s expansion to wholly new markets on the East Coast, West Coast and in the Sun Belt. After opening only one new market in 2008, Redfin plans to open at least five markets in 2009, using a combination of its own agents in core urban areas and partner agents in outlying areas. Redfin plans to open the first two of these markets in April.

“The launch of our partner program is the culmination of several major initiatives,” said Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman. “We opened the site to outlying areas in June last year, published agent profiles in August and then in November upgraded the site to offer consumers a choice of agents. At the time, we promised another major upgrade in the first quarter of 2009, which is what we’re delivering today. We waited to expand until now so we could develop a working knowledge as brokers of how online consumers choose an agent and what real estate agents do to serve them. Our goal has always been to change real estate for the better, but we are still figuring out how to do this at a national scale, on terms consistent with what we stand for, but that also work for our partners.”

A Network of Progressive, Performance-Oriented Agents

“Redfin shares my customer-service ideals and my client-first, common-sense approach to real estate,” said David Morrell, a broker associate with Coldwell Banker in Santa Cruz, California. “As I strive to give consistently excellent service, the client feedback I get via Redfin allows me to continually improve my service by seeing each transaction through the eyes of the customer. Redfin’s site is a perfect launching point for consumers who have done their research online and then want to find a qualified and responsive agent in their area to guide them through the rest of the process.”

About Redfin

Redfin (www.redfin.com) is the real estate industry’s first online brokerage, currently available in the metropolitan areas of Boston, Chicago, Seattle, Washington, DC and Baltimore as well as across the San Francisco Bay Area and Southern California. By combining maps, listings, tax records and analytics, Redfin has become one of the most popular brokerage search sites. Customers who use Redfin.com to buy or sell properties earn a commission refund usually worth thousands and get, on average, a better price on their home. Redfin has one of the highest customer satisfaction rates in the industry. To learn more about Redfin’s service, visit www.redfin.com; to keep track of our daring exploits, subscribe to blog.redfin.com.

SOURCE Redfin


Source: newswire



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