Redfin: A gift from the venture community to traditional real estate

I’ve always had a very low tolerance for discount real
estate bashing. It’s a slimy, stinking red
herring. And one that serves the “traditional” industry poorly in the minds of

It is unlikely Redfin will achieve dominant share in
any of its markets. It may even collapse under the weight of its high-dollar
payroll. But what is certain is that the industry could to learn a lot from
this company (in other words, steal its ideas) if it stopped bashing and
started observing.

Let me give you two simple examples.

This week, a Redfin sign appeared in my neighborhood for the
first time. Take a close look:


How about that? A call to action on a for sale sign. Makes
sense in the sales business. Also, note the absence of riders, headshots and
other clutter. And the shape itself: Totally distinctive yet not radical enough
to confuse. Yard signs are a significant driver of leads and serve to brand
brokers in their markets. It’s about time someone got it right.

Here’s another. Consider two facts:

  1. Listings are the most valuable content a broker has.
  2. Listings are the number one thing consumers look for when they turn to the Web for their real estate needs.

Most brokers fail to execute properly on this information. Take this shot from Alain
Pinel’s home page (APR actually does many things right with this site, if you
can find your way to them):


As the user, I really have to work at finding what I want: A
full feed of listings from the MLS. Grocery stores can get away with making you
walk past everything else to get to the milk. That’s doesn’t work online. If I
have to work hard, I’m gone.

Now take a look at Redfin’s home page:


See what I mean? Not only have they made it made it easy for
visitors to get what we all know they want, they probably user tested this to
death to get it just right. I have yet to speak with a broker that took the
time to user test.

Next time you feel the urge to jump onto the Redfin dogpile,
resist. Quiet study on the sidelines will probably serve you better.

Brian Boero