The Rebirth of Redfin?

[photopress:tyler_scott_01.jpg,thumb,alignright]In response to my recent slew of posts on real estate search engines, a reader (Amy Wu) left a comment asking if I’d ever tried Redfin. I’ve definitely tried Redfin and at one point I was a huge fan of their site. As a matter of fact, way back in March (before the days of plentiful google map-hacks), I mentioned how great it is to be able to get a birds-eye view of properties using Redfin. By the way, that was only my 3rd post for Rain City Guide (RCG)!

However, around June, RCG had a falling out with Redfin when they changed their business model to directly compete with Real Estate agents. One of the more interesting outcomes of my June post is that a former employee of Redfin wrote a long comment detailing some of his negative experiences while working at Redfin. After posting the comment, he asked that I delete it after David Ecker (founder and CEO of Redfin) wrote to him threatening a lawsuit.

However, I’m always willing to give people a second chance, so based on the Amy’s prompt, I decided to revisit Redfin. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they no longer mention the service I objected to. Go Redfin! I’m not sure if my posting had anything to do with the elimination of that poorly thought-out service, but either way, I’m pleased to see that they no longer advertise that service on their site.

So, in honor of my complete re-look at Redfin, I thought I’d compare them in the same method that I’ve been comparing sites like Trulia and Home Pages?

The Great:

  • Neighborhood Focus: Their interface makes it extremely easy to focus on local neighborhoods
  • Agent Integration: Their business model includes an easy way for agents to sign up and take part in their success!

The Good:

  • Stability: Their flash maps are much more stable than Home Pages (especially on a Mac)
  • Real Estate Data: Up-to-date date of homes-for-sale and sold-home
  • Personalized Mapping: Their maps are quick and don’t rely on another company’s service!
  • They’re Local: They serve (and only serve) the Seattle area (King County to be specific)

The bad:

  • They’re Local: They serve (and only serve) the Seattle area. I know from my stats that many of my readers are from other parts of the country/world, and Redfin simply will not help you at all!
  • Porting to other areas: I’ve heard for quite a while that Redfin was thinking of expanding to other areas, but their web-backend is apparently too complex to easily add to new areas. Having worked extensively with spatial data (GIS) for many years, I’m would not be surprised to hear that they are having problems adding new cities, but it is definitely disappointing. Along those lines, a service like Home Pages that relies on more generic neighborhood data (like school district data available from the Census District) has a much easier time going national!

The Ugly:

    Arrogance: When I talk with people from Trulia and LTD, I get a sense of excitement from the developers and a real sense that they want to hear how they can better serve their target market. The people at Redfin rarely return emails, and really don’t seem interested in hearing suggestions. I get the impression that they are sure they know the best way to serve the industry…

Regardless of their business politics, Redfin offers some pretty darn good real estate mapping features. If you are looking for a home in King County (Seattle, Redmond, Bellevue, etc.), I would definitely recommend checking them out! But when looking toward the future of real estate search, I just don’t see much excitement happening at Redfin, so unless there is a major change in their direction, I doubt they will still seem like an interesting real estate search one year from now (let alone 5 years!).

8 thoughts on “The Rebirth of Redfin?

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