Redfin is missing 20% of Listings?

I’ve heard a rumor, and I can’t figure out how to verify this using custom searches on Locator, but is it true that 20% of residential properties don’t appear on the MLS feeds to the Redfins and Homevalues of the world (as well as Windermere, John L. Scott, etc.). I was told that a good 1 out of 5 properties don’t have that checkbox selected that gives the MLS permission to ‘advertise on the public web’. First off, I’m surprised that so many agents would bypass the exposure; however, if they are doing it either making individual decisions, or by encouragement from their brokers, the net effect is chilling on the disintermediation plays. Consumers searching for properties using these discounters (or any of the major brokerages web sites), and not having the services of an agent to find the best properties using Locator, are shortchanging themselves.

Can anyone confirm or otherwise clarify this information? If true, it’s a dirty little secret.

74 thoughts on “Redfin is missing 20% of Listings?

  1. How about the possibility that Redfin is filtering the listings? Since they rebate 2/3 of the commission, maybe they are only including listings with more than 2.5% or 3%?

    If their business model doesn’t produce some profit, they won’t survive either!

  2. I did notice that the Redfin site had gaps, it’s been sometime since I’ve checked. I think it had more to do with property that wasn’t “mappable”, and so had no latitude/longitude numbers. When using a map feature on any sidte to search property, you will miss property that for one reason or another, won’t pull up the property on a map.

    Robbie knows all about this “problem” 🙂 I’m sure he’ll be more than happy to expound on the details.

  3. It’s related to the limitations of the IDX feed from the MLS. They don’t include properties where the listing agent has given expressed permission of inclusion on the public Internet. Premium feeds, however, include all listings, but can’t be accessed over the web..they need to be emailed (that’s how I understand it, anyway).

    Therefore, for example, Redfin browsers are missing some % of all listings. My source told me it was 20% that didn’t give permission to be included on the web, and therefore, the IDX feed.

  4. Vicki, no gaps using that method. My friends worked with RedFin and they held fast to a 1% commission even though it was listed with 1.5% for the selling agent. The site advertised a refund that was 3x higher!

    Eric, I sincerely doubt that they’re missing that much. They’ve been running for quite a while now and bugs like that aren’t really that hard to iron out.

  5. That’s sort of silly Eric. In that case ALL sites are missing 20% of the homes. Also, standard feeds include houses that can’t be shown on the internet. If there is a special “super secret” listing type in the premium feed, then there might be 20% missing, but otherwise I would estimate that the percentage of “no internet” homes is significantly lower than 20%.

  6. Can anyone think of a way to do a search on locator to determine how many properties have the ‘do not show on public internet’ box checked? If it is checked, how can it be shown on Redfin (the public Internet)? I don’t think it’s silly, Galen. Rather, it would be breaking the ‘agreement’ when showing properties where the agent/seller has expressly forbid to show properties on the Internet (again, for what reason, I don’t know).

    The question is – how many properties are in this subset of no show on the Internet. I’m wondering how to confirm or refute the 20% figure I heard.

  7. Also, my information comes from someone associated with a newer agent contact management tool. The premium feed, which includes all listings, can’t be displayed on the internet, but they can be emailed to prospects . This technology provider discovered this secret when determining how to present listings (by search and display, or by email). They told me of the 20% figure, and were surprised themselves.

    There’s got to be someone who knows Locator enough to know how to do the searches necessary to determine if this ration is correct (I admit, it’s not me).

  8. Galen,

    I am curious who your friends are that worked with Redfin. We always give back 2/3rds of the commission regardless of the selling office commission. On a 1.5% deal, we would have taken a half of a percent and refunded the rest. The lowest selling office commission deal we did was for a new construction deal with a site registration that offered a 1% selling office commission if the buyer didn’t pre-register—just like Ardell blogged about last week.

    We recently changed our policy to have a minimum service fee of $2,000, ( Even at 1.5%, a buyer purchasing a median priced home in King County would still come out ahead.


  9. Rob, thanks for clarifying. It’s realy my friend’s story to tell, but early in the buying process they told me that they weren’t getting as much commission back as they originally thought and that it had something to do with the seller only offering 1.5% to the buyer agent. In retrospect, I would guess that your website assumed they were getting 2/3rds of a 3% commission back, so they were disappointed when the refund was half as much as advertised. They aren’t industry insiders, so this subtlety may have been lost on them. Feel free to send me an email if you want to talk about this off list (I’m sure you can guess my email address at

    They still went through with the sale (and later proudly talked about their refund). They seemed relatively pleased with your service in spite of a couple of bumps along the way.

  10. Thanks Ardell! I’m looking forward to seeing the truth (I can handle the truth). Also, I use Redfin as an example, but any other company that uses MLS feeds would have the same problem (windermere, john l. scott, Homevalues, Zillow, etc.).

  11. I did a quick check for you Eric, and the results are the same as when I looked a year ago. Redfin is very “off” due to glitches in its own internal technology.

    Internet available is not a searchable feature, BTW, because it is not a feature of the home itself.

    Quick check shows 207 properties for sale in Kirkland under $600,000. says 197, which would be your best check for internet access, so that’s only 10 people who checked NO on internet access. Redfin shows 41 at first glance. To get accurate numbers from Redfin, you have to play with it more than most sites. If you type in Kirkland the way you do on most sites, you miss a separate area they call “downtwon Kirkland”, even if you add those two together, you don’t get the complete list. They have two numbers for each “mapped” and “list”. If you add the two “list” numbers together, you get more than there actually are.

    The problem with Redfin is that you have to know what is there before you search, so you know what you are missing. Everytime I use Redfin to look at homes, I notice something missing that I know is for sale, and see things listed for sale that are not actually for sale where they say they are.

    This has nothing to do with the rest of the world boycotting them. This has to do with a failure of their technology. Maybe they need to hire Robbie 🙂

  12. Hi everyone,
    The original post should be corrected out of fairness to make it clear that we use the same feed as every other Internet site, and for the area we support, we display every listing in that feed. Implying that IDX limitations are only a problem is misleading. Customers can also call us for listings that are not available by IDX, as they would a traditional brokerage, and are certainly able to submit offers on those properties.

    As for IDX listings, some listings cannot be mapped because the listing does not include an address; for this reason we also display a list view of properties that is a superset of the properties appearing on the map. Every map-driven site has to display properties without an address separately.

    Otherwise, differences in result sets depend on how you define neighborhoods, but users can easily move from one neighborhood to another on As far as I know, we are the only site to support neighborhood-based search at such a fine level of granularity; we view this as an asset, not a liability.


  13. The orignal post is correct. I just decided to use Redfin in the headline since it has been the topic of conversation recently. The body of the post and my follow up comments clearly state the the IDX feed is used by anyone offering public web access to listings.

  14. I have been told that Windermere does not allow their listings to be displayed on, which I always thought was a silly atitude. their argument to me was that they wanted to drive all the buyers to their site. I guess you just pretend that isn’t getting over 85% of the buyers. However, I just checked and notice that although they do show the Windermere listings, they do not allow you to contact the listing agent nor do they note who the listing company and agent is. Why would Windermere want to do that and why would the agents want to lose all those potential contacts? I get about 1500/week that click on my featured listings on

  15. Eric,

    I did a quick lookup in the DB (database). Of the 2000+ listings in Seattle only 7 are flagged for No Internet Access. The only properties that I see that do not show on the sites are the ones with no or bad geocodes. The MLS has about 70% of the residential listings in the DB geocoded to near exact location. We have to run 30% + of the properties through our proprietary geocoding system to get to 99% of the properties geocoded. It doesn’t make much sense to have a Map search if you cant search for all the properties.

    Here is a good example check out listing number 26025303. If you go to the different sites and look up this listing you will see they have it placed all over the place. I cant tell on Redfin where they have it positioned because the map doesn’t go out that far. I would have to guess that redfin doesn’t have at least 20 percent of the listings on the map search because they don’t have map coverage for the entire mls. If you search for this listing by listing number on redfin it comes up but the map is white so im not sure how people find these listings.

  16. Glenn,

    I respectfully suggest, seriously, that your “fine level of granularity” is too well defined for the average consumer, particularly those who are relocating here and even for many who live here. I say this in support of your goal, and not to tear it down. We can talk about this in person with a laptop in hand sometime, so I can show you where clients of mine who use Redfin as a Home Search Tool, miss properties, all of the time.

    I was over your way taking photos about an hour ago…but had to head back to the Eastside for my next two appointments. Let’s have that cup of coffee soon…quite preferably in Kirkland 🙂

  17. Eileen,

    85% percent of all buyers us I don’t think so. Do people happen to stop by because it comes up in the search engines YES? Do people in the NW use as their primary search tool? Ill have to say NO but I bet some do however I bet most use multiple sites. Windermere should be commended for its effort to stop from being the primary search site on the net.

    Here is a little history lesson. In 1998-1999 (i.e. Stuart Wolff) came to all the major brokers and explained why they should give all the data. The NW was the major hold out. promised the following.

    1) Every listing would have a contact agent link on it with email address.
    2) Agent sites on would always be $99.00.
    3) will never sell leads to the agents.

    Back to today Stuart Wolff is in jail, the agents name isn’t even listed on the listing unless you are paying, and there are agents paying 1000 – 2000 a month for websites. Not to mention now selling leads off the site. Just think how much it would cost if was the 100% go to source for real estate listings. You should send Windermere a thank you letter for keeping your prices down.

    Eileen what is your ROI from if you don’t mind sharing?

    Side note: Dustin no offense intended

  18. Pingback: Seattle’s Rain City Real Estate Guide » Seattle Beaches Offer Unique Views

  19. No one expects Rain City Guide to be fair. The blog is good because it is opinionated and lively.

    We all expect Rain City Guide to be factual.

    The headline was misleading about an issue of fact. The number of listings that aren’t available on and every web site is, as a matter of fact, much less than 1%. Eric could have easily performed this research, and now that we have, he could easily answer his own question in the post where it was asked.

    This is what he would do now if the intent of the question was to find an answer rather than to create uncertainty and doubt about Redfin, and I expect that he probably will.

    Let me explain why the post seemed to me like such a departure from Rain City Guide standards. Using hearsay and rhetorical questions to avoid responsibility for making a false statement is a classic tactic of political smear campaigns. Eric’s later argument that a headline was qualified in fine-print is the standard libel defense used by The National Enquirer.

    That the justification for the comment has now become that we made an unkind comparison on our own blog would suggest the only motive is retribution, which I am sure is not true.

    Regarding that reference, I had tried to explain that we deplore a particular tactic, not real estate agents, and I apologized. Later, before returning to this blog, I removed the reference from the blog, and inserted an apology with the same prominence as the original reference. This is because I respect Dustin, because I regretted the implications of my own statement, and because we all believe in fair, civil discourse.

    Given the tenor of today’s discussion, it now seems inconceivable to expect the same courtesy from Rain City Guide, even though our error was in a matter of taste, not in fact nor, I would ask you to believe, even in malice (you may never believe this, but it’s true).

    A reasonable person is not likely to conclude that a real estate agent compelling a home-buyer to work with him is actually acting like a praying mantis eating its mate; but the Seattle PI has already picked up the headline that Redfin may be missing 20% of its listings.

    How many of those readers will get so far as to realize that the missing data does not apply primarily or exclusively to Redfin, and is off by a factor of more than 20? The whole argument leaves us all the worse for wear.

    For now, when Redfin makes mistakes, you can tell us, and we will do our best to remedy them.

    Regards, Glenn

  20. Glenn-

    I did not present this as fact, but as an (as of yet) unconfirmed bit of trivia. Clearly, in my post, I’m reaching out asking for anyone who can confirm or refute this.

    What really scares me – if it’s true – is that the PI is running with an unconfirmed blog item as a news story? Is that what you’re saying? Or are you simply saying you’ve received a call from the PI about this issue?

    I’m going to track down the source who gave this factoid and get the information directly from him. It will take a little doing, but given the ‘manufactured’ gravity of the situation, and given that Glenn seems to think blogs need to be held to the same standards as newspapers, I’ll go the extra mile.

  21. Glenn,

    Your comment is the same as the reputation that preceeds you. I just read Eric’s post and each of Eric’s comments, and it is very clear that he is asking a question regarding public sites vs. agent access mls searches. It does not appear that Eric even read your blog and clearly he makes no reference to the praying mantis.

    You have twisted a comment from another person into being Eric’s motivation.

    I think it is quite easy for a buyer to miss more than 20% of the available property using your site. That could simply mean that it is not user friendly enough. I myself typed in Kirkland under $600,000 and only received 41 of the 197 listings, in comparing Redfin results to the mls results. That doesn’t mean they aren’t there, and as I dug deeper I found more over here and more over there…but what if someone doesn’t know to dig deeper? I only knew to dig deeper because the number was low compared to other sources.

    Again, instead of discussing the issues, you are taking offense, and that is the criticism of Redfin generally. They offend the masses of traditional brokerage at times, and yet take offense at anything said about them. I think that’s called “You can dish it out but can’t take it.”

    As to the PI making a different story of it, I think you need to speak to the PI about that.

  22. Pingback: No Memory Hole at weblog, where the dance of the mantises go on forever . . . | BloodhoundBlog | The weblog of in Phoenix, Arizona

  23. Glenn, we are individuals here and we don’t group edit our posts. I didn’t have time to run the numbers yesterday, but I entirely believe your analysis.

    Normally I don’t swear allegiance to or against other people’s posts, but I don’t stand by this post, regardless of any disclaimers. The title is deceptive and inappropriate.

  24. Glenn, I am having trouble finding the story in the PI (all I can find is a rerun of the NYT piece from Sunday). Did they actually run a story, or did a reporter ask you about the headline in this post?

  25. Perhaps Glenn is referring to the “roundabout route”. If you go to the PI, and then go to the Blog section, and then go to the Real Estate Blog section, and then go down a story or two to the one about Rain City Guide being hijacked by Turks, and then click on the hyperlink in that story to Rain City Guide, and then scroll down past current articles…the PI does indirectly lead to Eric’s post.

    A circuitous route to be sure, but that functions a lot like Redfins site, you eventually can get to the accurate info if you take many steps, so it could be the answer to the queston and at the same time the answer to Eric’s question as well 🙂

  26. I just talked to my source. I stick by my story . More to come later (I’m out the door and don’t have time to elaborate. Very interesting conversation indeed. He even invited Glenn to call him directly. More to come.

  27. Glen,

    On a separate note… It must be funny knowing that your biggest Critics/Fans are only a few keystrokes away here on RC Guide’s blog??

    I knew the Redfin crew had responded to this post before I even opened the thread.

    How Bizarre this Internet world is… getting smaller and smaller it seems!

    -Giles Stevens

    “The internet is not something you just dump something on. It’s not a truck….It’s a series of tubes.”

    -Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska)

  28. How about 98% missing on the Redfin site? I just put the two sites up side by side, Redfin vs. MLS Agent version. I typed in Bothell $450,000 to $500,000. Redfin said 2 vs. MLS Agent version which said 84.

    Now I know there is a logical defense for this scenario, but how much is the average consumer expected to know? How is the average consumer, who does what I just did, know that there are in fact more than 2 and they should keep playing with the site?

    I think that is very constructive criticism that should be paid attention to, rather than defended.

    Granted, I may not be using the site correctly, but I have always had results like this when using the site and have scratched my head saying, what’s so great about this place?

  29. Glenn,

    Just to be clear about something… Eric had no intention of smearing Redfin because of the “preying mantises” comment. In fact, Eric had this post ready to go for a while (and I’m pretty sure before Russ or Glenn even posted their related entries). However, unlike Russ, I have not given Eric authority to “publish” posts yet, so it had to be run by me, and I was too swamped to hit “publish” until after Russ had started the conversation. The only thing I considered changing in the title was the placement of the “is”. In other words, if it was my post, I would have said “Is Redfin…?” because it would read more like a question.

    However, in my mind a title is meant to simply grab a users attention so that they will read the post, and I’m always fascinated by the creativity of RCG contributors in this realm. My opinion is that as long as there are no factual inaccuracies, I just let things fly…

    I’m a little surprised that you don’t understand this since it is basic marketing. Did Rob really think that people were going to become millionaires in one weekend when he wrote this title? I sincerely doubt it and unlike Eric’s post, it wasn’t even factually accurate! But the title he choose captured my attention and got me to read his post. I see nothing wrong with that at all…

    I honestly harbor no malice for Redfin whatsoever, and think you’ve embarked on a very interesting project. However, I’m surprised that you expect the agent community to wear soft gloves while you come out swinging at them…

  30. Galen:

    I’m waiting to get new information. The data for September 2005 shows a 10% (not 20%) discrepancy, and preliminary data shows 1%-2% now. My source finds it hard to believe that there would be such a huge improvement. However, if there has been, I fully plan to post a clarification.



  31. Why is missing listing such a big deal? Just find the listing on, look up the open house date on, stop by the open house, then use Redfin to make an offer. However, I do love the fact that Redfin displays the “Days On Market” DOM, this information gives me huge advantage during negotiation. For the listings Redfin doesn’t have, I have to go to ZipRealty to dig up the DOM. No biggy, but it would be nice if RedFin can have all the listings. Oh btw, I love how Redfin tabulates listing display and how it pinpoints properties on a map as you click through. That’s is innovation!

Leave a Reply