There’s always something to howl about

Adorn that russet Bloodhound in Redfin red: Today we make common cause against stupidity, cupidity, stolidity and inertia in the real estate industry in behalf of the consumer’s right to a fully-informed, financially-sound and fun real estate experience. is coming to Phoenix today — 6 am PDT, to be precise. And they’re coming as a VOW, which strikes me as being a potent marketing advantage, at least in the short run. And the news that might be most of interest here: is coming along with them.

As I wrote in February of 2009, Redfin is entering new markets with referral agents as well as its own employees. Cathleen Collins, my wife and business partner, and I will be handling one quadrant of the referred territories.

From’s press release:

Redfin today expanded to the Phoenix metropolitan area, increasing the number of listings available on Redfin’s website by 8%. Phoenix is the third market Redfin has opened since December 2009, and the twelfth overall. Separately today, Redfin is announcing upgrades to its listing service, and new support for short sales.

With this launch, Redfin’s site offers customers the photos and marketing materials used to list properties that recently sold, information previously limited to real estate agents. No other website offers this data, known in the industry as Virtual Office Website (VOW) data, to Phoenix consumers. The new data, which consumers can use to develop their own market analyses, became available last year as a result of an agreement between the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Association of Realtors.

Redfin has access to the real-time database used by brokers to list homes because Redfin is a broker that represents customers buying and selling homes. In Cave Creek, Fountain Hills, Scottsdale, Tempe, Chandler and Gilbert, the company provides direct service, employing its own real estate agents. In the East Valley and the West Valley, Redfin relies on partners. Redfin’s search site covers all of Maricopa and Pinal counties.

Cathleen wants the business. We’re growing fast, and she wants to grow still faster.

Greg wants to be an even-more-disruptive disruptor.

But among many other things I might talk about, there is this: Redfin’s internal praxis actually does impose a performance bar on practitioners. It’s the kind of corporate pencil-pushing I’ve always been lousy at, but Redfin tracks and measures everything. Not for pencil-pushing reasons, but in order to improve the product in every measurable way. That’s beyond impressive to me. I haven’t even had a chance to play with their toys yet, but I’ve learned a ton just hearing them described.

And this is a real Bloodhound experience, which is very funny to me, considering how much grief I’ve given and its CEO, Glenn Kelman, over the years. But the path to Splendor necessarily originates in error, and the Bloodhound way is to learn from your mistakes and do better in the future. So: I am deeply impressed by Redfin’s focus on the consumer’s complete real estate experience and by how much effort the entire company devotes to improving that experience over time. That is raising the frolicking bar, and I am very proud to be a part of that — even if just an ancillary part.

I hate, hate, hate every aspect of the real estate business that deserves to be called predatory. We are doing a beautiful and noble thing — making and keeping promises in order to help honest, hard-working people realize the fundamentally human dreams of hearth and home, kith and kin. And yet everywhere I turn, I see yet another huckster trying to sucker a consumer — presumed to be clueless — into making a poor choice just so the huckster can get paid. I am doing everything I can think of to push those bums out of this business, and I anticipate that Redfin’s presence in the Phoenix market will be a potent force for the good.

Oh, good grief! Who doesn’t paint himself on the side of the angels? Here’s what matters right away: Consumers in Phoenix will have a lot more real estate information available to them, all on-line, all anonymously if they like. If they undertake a transaction, they’ll learn a lot, have some fun and save a little money. But even if all they do is window shop, they’ll know more tomorrow than they could have learned today. If some huckster tries to tell you that’s a bad thing — run.

Meanwhile: Welcome to Phoenix, Redfin. I’m looking forward to learning more of the art of doing a better job, and Cathleen and I are eager to show off the regal, indomitable arrogance of a healthy, normal Bloodhound.

This is my kind of fun…


21 Comments so far

  1. Michael Wurzer March 25th, 2010 12:24 am

    I think this is brilliant. I think Kelman is brilliant and the two of you together will be amazing.

  2. Greg Swann March 25th, 2010 6:52 am

    > I think Kelman is brilliant and the two of you together will be amazing.

    I agree with you about Glenn, but I don’t want to oversell this. We’re just referral partners, handling on-line leads in areas where Redfin’s own agents won’t be working. It’s cool for us for many reasons, and it’s remarkable in a man-bites-dog kind of way, but they’ll still be an IPO-bound tech start-up and we’ll still be a boutique real estate brokerage.

  3. Cheryl Johnson March 25th, 2010 4:13 am

    Ditto what Michael said. Congratulations to both of you, Greg and Glenn!

  4. John Kalinowski March 25th, 2010 4:15 am

    New company name? – Bloodfin

  5. Cheryl Johnson March 25th, 2010 4:17 am

    And, congratulations, CATHLEEN!

  6. Thomas Johnson March 25th, 2010 4:48 am

    Congratulations! This will give lever you with a VOW which will take BHR beyond the best in class ARMLS IDX, especially if the RPR is stillborn.

  7. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Omar Murillo, Real Estate Feeds, realdiggity, Mark Risley, Tom Hunter and others. Tom Hunter said: Adorn that russet Bloodhound in Redfin red: Today we make common cause against stupidity, cupidity, stolidity and … […]

  8. Al Lorenz March 25th, 2010 9:43 am

    I’m smiling thinking about some of the phone calls Glenn is going to get from you and Cathleen. I bet he’ll love them!

  9. Greg Swann March 25th, 2010 10:03 am

    We won’t take bonus commissions, so we had to amend our deal to account for bonus commission money we rebate directly to the buyer. It’s just that special flavor of weirdness you get when you do business with us.

  10. David G March 25th, 2010 10:35 am

    Congratulations and best wishes to you, Cathleen and the Redfin team. All the more reason for you to come and visit us in Seattle!

  11. Cynthia March 25th, 2010 11:20 am

    How things have changed in a few years! Congrats and do let us know when you’re in Seattle again so we can round up a few folks for a meet-up.

  12. […] It requires that people find out a little about Redfin and that they read this post on Bloodhound Blog. […]

  13. Brad Coy March 25th, 2010 11:47 am

    Congratulations. It sounds like a good pairing. Looking forward to hearing more as this relationship develops.

  14. Galen March 25th, 2010 2:52 pm

    I imagine any online company would want you to be one of their Phoenix partner agents. I hope it truly makes the growing business grow faster.

  15. Jay Thompson March 25th, 2010 4:51 pm

    We’ll see you around the Refiniverse…

  16. Carmen March 26th, 2010 9:53 am

    It will be interesting to see how they play out in the higher end of the market in Scottsdale.

  17. Sean Purcell March 26th, 2010 1:40 pm

    …the path to Splendor necessarily originates in error, … learn from your mistakes and do better in the future.

    Simple, but simply sublime.

  18. Greg Swann March 26th, 2010 5:53 pm

    > Simple, but simply sublime.

    Thanks. The idea of redemption — while you are alive, not in some hoped-for afterlife — is vitally important to me. I’ve just posted a longer take on that one topic.

  19. […] to Phoenix, and we’re excited to be a small part of it.Others opine on Redfin coming to Phoenix:Greg Swann at BloodhoundMatt Goyer (of Redfin) on ActiveRainJohn Cook’s (Seattle) Venture BlogPuget Sound Business […]

  20. Todd Carpenter March 27th, 2010 8:57 am

    Congrats! It would be interesting to measure who changed the most since those original criticisms. I think this is a credit to both of you!

  21. Scott Schang March 27th, 2010 10:13 am

    Congratulations Greg and Cathleen!

    When Glenn came to Unchained and spoke about their model, their failures and their successes, he was incredibly open and sincere. I gained a very high respect for what he was trying to accomplish after that.

    I look forward to hearing more about your experience.