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Redfin.com beats the field again, this time in both Seattle and San Francisco: Buyers pay less and reap commission rebates, too

Redfin.com has news this midnight, but it’s the sort of thing I would normally ignore: It’s basically the kind of rah-rah-for-us stuff I leave for the vendor cheerleaders and the mainstream media. But: I gave Redfin a lot of grief last year when they made a similar announcement, so today I’ll give them a bit of their own back:

Online real estate broker Redfin Corporation today published an analysis of the last 12 months’ public real estate records in Seattle and the San Francisco Bay Area that shows its buyers and their Redfin agents negotiated a better price than buyers who used other brokerages. Redfin’s average negotiating advantage was $5,048. The company also reported a 95 percent customer satisfaction rate for users of its home-buying service, and an average commission refund of $10,520.

This is the actual news, which you will not find in any news source: Redfin beat the field for the second year in a row. Is it plausible that particular agents beat Redfin? Not just plausible, highly probable. I don’t know of any teams of buyer’s agents like the kind of team Russell Shaw runs for listing agents, but a team like that would be much more useful for comparison purposes than the entire field of Realtors in three MLS systems. But give Redfin its due: The company deploys the kind of task specialization common to every sort of business except residential real estate brokerage. It’s very hard to resist the idea that specialist negotiators, more often than not, could out-dicker ordinary jack-of-all-trades Realtors.

And all of that is caviling, and wasted caviling at that. Stand in awe as Redfin.com CEO Glenn Kelman illustrates the high art of PR triangulation:

“Why do Redfin customers consistently tend to negotiate a better price, in different markets and different market conditions?” said Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman. “Last year, we concluded it was because of our agents, whom we pay bonuses based on customer satisfaction rather than commissions. Others argued that it was because of our deal-savvy customers, who benefit from Redfin’s transparency to take a more active role in the deal. Today, we think it’s both: great agents paid to focus on customer satisfaction and more-engaged customers. Statisticians call this selection bias. We call it a partnership. Customers have more skin in the game, so they are a huge asset in our efforts to negotiate a good result.”

It’s two– two– two mints in one!

So: Let me give them their moment. It won’t be denied, in any case, and — what the hell? — I owe it to them. Are Redfin clients harder nosed than the run of humanity? Are their negotiators better hagglers? Are many Realtors stoopid, sloppy, lazy or pre-occupied? Could all of these things be true? Whatever. Redfin.com can demonstrate that it beats the field in three MLS systems in two major markets — and they have voluminous supporting docs to back up their claims. Considering that the company is also rebating major ducats back to its buyers, I have to rate this — caviling and caveats be damned — a nice win for consumers.

 
Elsewhere: John Cook, Michael Arrington, Glenn Kelman.

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