Redfin and findwell – Great alternatives to traditional brokers when selling your home in Seattle

Today our competitor Redfin announced two changes to their service. One change is new service levels for home sellers, and another is the ability to tour short sales with a Redfin agent. While we applaud their improvements and think they have a great website, we remain biased about our own service levels and think we can provide superior service by dedicating a single agent to guide you through your home buying or selling process, rather than their teams of agents.

Improvement for Home Sellers

After years of focusing primarily on home buyers, Redfin is now emulating our own services for home sellers. Like findwell, they are now offering in-person home consultations, professional photos, traditional marketing materials, online marketing blitzes, feedback gathering from buyers and agents who have toured the home, along with open houses. They are doing this while matching our own fee of charging half of what traditional agents typically charge for listing your home. They also gave up on their $750 upfront listing fee, which was certainly an unpopular fee with their prospective clients. We applaud their efforts to compete with traditional brokers for listings.

Redfin is also now gathering feedback from agents and buyers who have toured your home. We have always viewed this as critical information to help market a property and make decisions on changes to the price and condition of the home. We’ve had an automated feedback system in place for a few years now, and our sellers have always found tremendous value in it. Since Redfin is now gathering agent and buyer feedback for their own listings, I need to call on them to return the favor to other agents when they tour listings. We have had 200+ showings by Redfin agents at our own listings, but we have only received 2 feedback responses. The rest have been ignored. We also attempt phone calls to follow up with Redfin agents after they have showed our listings, but not once have we been successful at reaching them and actually gathering feedback from their showings. If Redfin is going to gather buyer feedback from tours of their own listings, they need to step up to the plate and do the same thing when they show another agent’s listing.

Short Sale Support

Redfin is now offering the ability to tour homes listed as a short sale in Seattle. However, if you want to actually place an offer on short sales, they will pass you off to one of their external partner agents. Short sales can be volatile and difficult to close, so they are passing off all of that hard work to non-Redfin agents to get the deal done, and only offering a 15% rebate in the process. This is compared to their normal 50% commission rebate for buyers. findwell has chosen a different path with short sales. While the short sale process can be difficult and nerve-wracking, if the home is right for you, your dedicated findwell agent will take you through the offer and negotiation process and stick by your side to make it work. We don’t charge differently for short sales, despite the added risk and time-consuming work involved.

Compelling Alternatives to Traditional Brokers

Traditional real estate brokerages such as Windermere, John L. Scott and Coldwell Banker Bain have long held strong market share in the Seattle market. Online brokers such as Redfin and findwell continue to innovate, combining high technology and lower fees to offer a better approach to buying or selling a home. We are betting that our model will win in the long run, but we’ve still got a long way to go. Before you choose a real estate agent, we encourage you to evaluate some of us newcomers before you make your choice.

  • Kevin, great post and spot on with the feedback comment. I've always provided Redfin's listing agents with feedback but have yet to receive any from their showing agents.

  • Hi Ben & Kevin,

    We know that we should be giving feedback and are sorry that we are not. Unfortunately with our field agents seeing 15-25 homes a day, day in and day out, it makes it difficult for them to keep all the homes they see straight when a feedback request comes in days after they've seen the house. To fix this we are planning an automated solution for collecting feedback from our field agents and getting it to the listing agents. We really do want to be good citizens of the real estate world and are open to other solutions if you have some ideas that we could implement in the short term.

  • Lauree N

    It's interesting that the alternatives to traditional brokers seem to be doing more of the traditional brokers type of work. The consumer wants to pay less and they've been getting less for it that's capitalism at it's finest. If you've got agents in the field looking at 15-25 houses a day, how can they review title, negotiate a sale, or manage the endless details of a Short Sale, let alone act as a professional and keep track enough to provide feedback. A traditional broker provides focus to you, your home, and the transaction. You pay more because you get more.

  • dariakurkjy

    Great post! I definitely agree that it would be EXTREMELY helpful if Redfin agents would respond to feedback requests. I usually let my sellers know up front that Redfin agents DON'T respond… It is very frustrating for both listing agents and sellers that we never get a response, particularly when we have multiple showings by Redfin agents – we have no way of knowing whether it is a second showing for the same client or a showing for a completely different client.

  • Hi Lauree,

    Matt from Redfin here.

    Our agents in the field showing 15-25 houses a day aren't the same agents who review title, negotiate the sale, etc.

    At Redfin our agents work in teams with agents who specialize in showing homes, others specialize in negotiating and keeping everything flowing smoothly are our coordinators at the center of it all. As a result we're able to offer consumers specialists at every step of the way, and it's also much more efficient enabling us to give the client a refund of our commission. Also keep in mind that none of our agents spend any time on marketing since our website does that for them.