Online real estate broker Redfin is revamping its website to add recent data and photos of recent home sales as well as links to blog discussions of a listing. The Seattle-based startup, which is profitable, represents buyers and sellers in home real estate transactions for far less than the industry rates that take 5%-6% of the sale price of a home and split it between buy and sell brokers. On the buy side they reimburse 50% of the fee they receive back to the buyer. On the sell side they charge a $5,000 – $7,000 flat fee. The normal broker fees on a million dollar house are up to $60,000, so the savings for the consumer can be significant.
With the addition of 9.6 million photos for 1.4 million recent property sales, the total amount of data and photos stored by Redfin has increased by 340%, empowering consumers with more information about the homes they are considering buying. With the upgrade, Redfin users can access sales information of properties within 15 minutes of the property’s being taken off the market, including the photos used to sell the property, and information about the properties’ amenities. Redfin mashes this info up with public records, giving the prospective home buyer greater insight into the history of a property.
The new version of Redfin’s site now also automatically links web pages about a property to blog posts about that property. For registered users, Redfin shows a link to the blog post with the post’s title and a brief summary; for unregistered users, Redfin shows a link to the blog post but doesn’t display the title or the summary. And Redfin launched a new version of its iPhone application that includes improved search filters on the year a house was built, lot size and days on market as well as the ability to exclude short sales and properties under contract from search results.
The ability to publish recent sales data and to incorporate blog links into the site are the result of a settlement that took place last year between the National Association of Realtors and the Department of Justice, that allows online brokers to publish the same information to the web that a real estate agent can share with his client, which was a huge win for the online real estate industry.
Redfin has been a disruptive technology to the real estate industry and has received backlash from the real estate professionals who are made unnecessary by Redfin’s model. The company’s CEO and founder Glenn Kelman told us recently, they’ve had to deal with “threats, stalkings and other disturbing behavior towards their employees and some customers from, apparently, angry real estate professionals.” And as Redfin adds additional information to its site, that real estate agents used to have a hold over, the platform is invading deeper into traditional brokers’ territory.