Redfin Becoming What They Hate… Traditional

Redfin becoming traditional real estate brokerage

Redfin today announced that they are taking yet another step toward becoming that one thing that they so desperately are trying to position themselves as NOT being… a traditional brokerage.

They began as an online-only brokerage, touting themselves as the first online brokerage and making a lot of noise about their unique value proposition. Buyers found the home they wanted to buy, made the offer on redfin’s website, and got a cut of the commission check.


Redfin began offering property tours for a fee.


They began offering more tours.


They’re offering tours through homes the way traditional agents do, with no set amount of homes or fees (other than they’ll only take you twice per week) and you get less of a cut of the commission.

Redfin becoming traditional

They already ditched their industry-best map and search capability and replaced it with Microsoft’s api, replaced their logo with a worse one, and have given the metaphorical finger to traditional agents every chance they get, shouting how “different” they are, being an online broker. 

Making bad decisions, playing catch-up to others in the industry, spin-selling… sounds like they are more traditional than they think.


They will probably offer traditional agent services in a menu-driven model, where buyers can choose which level of service they want (full service, some service, no service). Just like everyone else, Redfin is adjusting to the industry, not the other way around. They are learning something I learned quite a while ago (I’m a faster learner), having a kick-ass website only gets you the introduction- you still gotta earn the business. And when people invest $700,000 on anything, they want an expert who knows their stuff and who can give the very best advice and share their knowledge, not just someone to fax your documents and schedule your inspection for you.

There is a difference between information and knowledge. Redfin is learning this, albeit very slowly…



11 thoughts on “Redfin Becoming What They Hate… Traditional

  1. Greg, our intention hasn’t been to give anyone the finger. Our site may, in your opinion, have gotten worse, but hundreds of thousands of visitors would disagree: traffic has been growing over 20% month over month. We had to change our logo because of a lawsuit threatened by but I like the new one, too. And our goal hasn’t been to be traditional or untraditional, but to serve customers well. We think what is most innovative about Redfin is what information we share, how we employ our agents, and how we treat our customers, not what price we charge.

  2. Glenn,

    You know I’ve always liked you, and I’ve defended you and your model when many were attacking. If you had to change the logo, I understand, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that increased traffic means anything more than just traffic.

    Much of your traffic is from real estate people or people just curious because of your PR. Sure, any traffic is good, but buyer/seller traffic when they are buyers/sellers is real traffic.

    Redfin (and some others) still haven’t realized that cramming as much information into as small of a space as possible is not really what inspires people. It doesn’t really matter. It’s not the information that matters, it’s the experience.

    Redfin used to be something different than it is today, and different than where it seems to be going… you changed more than the logo. And I didn’t say the site is worse, I said the logo is worse. But, probably, the site is worse. It used to have a charm that has been replaced with a corporate feel. The map was amazing when you created it yourself, in fact it was the best part of the site.

    I understand completely that you are probably feeling pressure from the investors, I’ve posted about that before, but you’re trying to grow your business in spite of the industry, instead of with it’s support, and that may not be the most prudent business plan.

    Real estate is an inter-dependant industry and PR that alienates everyone else around you for the sake of fitting in with some self-created niche of techies who want to buy real estate, doesn’t make sense.

    The biggest challenge Redfin has is that it is a technology company (square peg) trying to fit into a real estate community (round hole), but you’re beating down the industry while you complain that it doesn’t love you.

    Glenn I think you’re a good guy and a great speaker. We’ve had beers together and we’ve agreed more than disagreed. I’ve always wished you well, and I still do. But, frankly, the evolution of Redfin seems to contradict your message.

  3. Pingback: Redfin Select: School-Marmish Innovator’s Dilemma? Becoming What They Hate? | 3 Oceans Real Estate, A Boutique Real Estate Brokerage Serving the San Francisco Bay Area

  4. Regardless of what you think about RedFin – as a consumer and homeowner, I *REALLY* wish they were in the SLC market.

  5. I know most people have been burned by buying something online. I know I have. Buying a song off iTunes or some new gloves for Sierra Trading post is different then choosing a REALTOR.

    Dont get me wrong technology and the internet are remarkable and can dramatically improve our services to our clients yet if you are an internet only broker and only develop relationships with clients virtually you need to stick to selling virtual real estate. Ive hear that the Sims games are getting really real these days.

    Have fun computer brokers. Brian Jones and the Burns and Jones Group of Prudential Colorado are now and will always be REALTORS in the real world and keep selling REAL estate.

  6. Great stuff Greg. I am in the St. George market and a great buddy of mine (who is unfortunately better at analyzing the market than actually producing anything within it..) forecast this trend the SECOND our market started to turn in late 2005. Now understand that these guys aren’t in our market either, but versions of them flourished especially on the selling side during the “boom that would never, ever under any circumstances end but then did.”

    They are now all but defunct (or pretending they were never low-service) now because of your most critical point above: Square peg, round hole.

    Real estate has always been a people business and a society. As much as I HATE the diatribe, fake optimism for the current market, and general BS of our local tour meetings, I am there every single week rubbing shoulders, pitching my listings, looking for the right deal for a buyer, and just generally connecting with the rest of the local realtor base.

  7. Pingback: Redfin Select: School-Marmish Innovator’s Dilemma? Becoming What They Hate? : Domus Test Test Test

  8. Redfin is getting a bad reputation – no one wants to show their properties because they are bullies/sharks. I have heard nothing but bad news about accepting a Redfin offer, so I for one will stay away from this ‘new’ approach. Plus, they only want to make their customer happy & screw the other buyer/seller. Great concept Redfin! Wow, what a swell idea – the housing market isn’t screwy enough, you get to put your ‘spin’ on it. AVOID this real estate company like the plague unless you want pain.

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