Yesterday Redfin announced the launch of a new site feature that introduces the concept of “agent feedback” on a broader and more transparent scale.
As with anything new, it will take a bit of time for things to “shake out” on this new feature, as we as an industry continue to balance the obligations to home sellers “IN” an mls system, and the wants and needs of home buyers who do not have any contractual rights within an mls system, the way that sellers do.
I will describe how this new feature appears to function at present, and as I understand it after having tested it.
When you search for property on Redfin and the little house icons appear on the map, some will have a yellow star to denote which properties have been “toured” by a Redfin agent AND the Redfin agent has noted their and/or their buyer client’s thoughts on the property.
If the house has no yellow star, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t EVER “toured” by a Redfin agent, only that the agent did not input a comment to the system after doing so.
If you click on the house icon with the yellow star, the address will appear in a link box. If you click on the link, you will get the property detail, but you will not yet SEE the comment made by the “field” agent. (“Field” agent is the term used by Redfin for agents who view property with prospective home buyers. (Agents “out in the field”.) Redfin “partner” agents also have access to posting comments, even though they are not employees of Redfin. Not sure if they can do that for all of the property they show, or only the property they show to a home buyer who was referred to them “by Redfin”. But I do know they have some access to this new feature as to leaving comments.
What you will see above the map of the parcel, and below the home detail specifics, is this: “Notes About (123 main street) from Redfin Agents Toured (X) Times” along with a Button you press that says “Email Notes to Me”.
Again, I don’t think it is accurate yet as to how many “Times” the home was toured by Redfin, but I’m confused on this issue. I have a listing toured by Redfin at least 2 times that does not have a yellow star, nor does it denote in the detail that it was ever toured by a Redfin “field” agent with a buyer (or Redfin “partner” agent). So I’m pretty sure ALL “tours” are not registering. I thought maybe “Toured 2 Times” meant there were 2 comments, but there is only 1 comment, so maybe that one agent toured it 2 times before making the comment.
Perhaps they should say “1 Comment” vs “Toured 2 Times” in the interest of “accuracy”, as “transparency” carries an obligation of a reasonable degree of accuracy as to factual content. As I said earlier, this is a minor point that will “shake out” vs “shake up” as time goes on.
When you click on the “Email Notes to Me” button, you will fairly instantaneously receive an email with the comment(s).
There is also a feature to receive new notes as they are added later on this property. That appears to be automatic, except if you click on the same property that sent you notes and hit that button again, it will give you an option to receive new notes. So not entirely sure on that one.
To receive these notes you DO NOT have to be a Redfin “CLIENT”. You simply have to be a “registered user” of the Redfin site, as I and most of my clients are.
1) The most notable problem is that at least two of the comments shown publicly in blog posts contain what we call “inappropriate language”. For example the one in this post from Glenn’s post says “ideal for a family” and one of the two comments posted on 1000Watt Consulting Blog by Brian Boero says “not for families with small children”.
The guideline for agents is we must talk ONLY about property and not make broad statements about who should live IN them. Both of those comments mention people vs home attributes, long considered taboo under HUD guidelines.
There are massive writings on this topic, but a good rule of thumb is:
TALK ABOUT THE HOUSE AND NOT THE PEOPLE:
1) WHO LIVE IN IT
2) WHO “SHOULD” BUY IT
3) WHO LIVE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD.
Talk about the home and it’s attributes, and not the people.
A long standing “rule” for real estate advertisements, or most any statements made by licensed agents, is talk about the house and not people.
HOWEVER I often will tell a specific client that a home is not right for them “and their small children” if the house has a master bedroom only on the 2nd floor, and the only other bedrooms are IN the basement, especially if we have already discussed that the master bedroom must on the same floor as their children’s bedrooms.
So I think if Redfin notes a specific “deficiency” of the property in that regard, without mentioning people, like “Master up; children’s bedrooms two floors below and in the basement”. That would be OK. But to simply say “not for families with small children”…well, that’s more about HOW you say it than what you say. Not a huge deal. Just another example of “shake out” of this new feature to come, IMO. What you can say TO a buyer client is different than what you can say “publicly”, and this new feature blurs the lines from a “Fair Housing Guidelines” standpoint.
2) That raises another issue. Let’s say Redfin Agents can say anything because they are speaking to Redfin site “registered users” only. Not saying that is the case, but let’s consider that as potentially the case.
Then the issue of Brian Boero, or any other “registered user”, POSTING those private email comments PUBLICLY becomes a problem.
Can he take a private email and display it publicly? I think Brian can, because I don’t think Brian is a licensed agent. I don’t think I can, unless I am linking to a public place (as I did) and it is not an email I personally received from the site.
If the rationale is ONLY “registered users” can see the comments, then shouldn’t there be an agreement with registered users that they will not publicly post those emailed comments? I think so.
3) The benefit generally is that Redfin continues to try to strike a good balance between the rights of buyers and sellers. But, the seller has a contract as to what their conditions are with regard to an mls being able to display their property information via the mls system. Buyers have no rights in that regard, as they have no written contract with “an mls system”.
I think most mls systems will allow the seller to block this feature, and will recommend that sellers do that, given the seller and the seller’s agent have very limited, if any, control or access to the function. That is generally against most any Listing Contract provision signed by a seller to gain access to the mls system. They are many and varied, but most require the Listing Agent and/or Listing Brokerage to have full control over information on “member” sites, which often limits the info to that available via an “mls” feed, with some and often many restrictions.
Time will tell, but that is my expectation. I think we will be seeing some NEW “mls rules” with regard to this new feature.