The school of Redfin, Part II

I wouldn’t use Redfin to sell my home.

But I admire Glenn Kelman. I hope he and his company thrive. And carve out a nice slice of the market. For the company, and the man, are doing this industry a great favor. They are challenging it to face its demons, to contend with ugly things.

But most importantly, they are offering up some fine lessons. If that $20 million in VC does nothing else, it will add more the real estate marketing playbook than the sum total of seminar speeches given this century.

I have expressed this opinion before. And I am still puzzled why any self-assured agent or broker finds the fact that a competitor wants to put them out of business appalling. Isn’t that the way it always is?

It’s much more useful to go to school on them.

Consider, then, the marvelous “Real Estate Scientist” play and its big media hit, the Today show appearance. What might we learn here?

  • That there is a hunger for real estate facts, however obvious they may be
  • That most Americans, to the extent that their wants can be divined through Today’s programming choices, want to hear something different from a real estate brokerage company
  • That saying and doing things differently in real estate — even just a little — has enormous marketing power
  • That sellers, many heavily leveraged and some tapped out, respond to comfort
  • That what “the marketing department” does every week probably needs to be reconsidered
  • That your CEO needs to be talking to, an with, your customers much, much more

I think most any brokerage could to take a cue from Redfin and do something that resonates. To take that weekly newspaper spread and get imaginative with it; to connect with a jaded customer with candor; to create its own list of hype-free recommendations for selling a home in [your market here]; or to issue a letter from its CEO explaining why, depending on your circumstances, it very well may not be a good time to buy or sell.

It’s a matter of will.

Redfin may indeed go out of business someday. But unless those who celebrate do so because they have simultaneously eradicated the plague of mistrust from which it was propelled into the media spotlight, the revelry will be joyless.

So take the lessons. Do what you do, better.

— Brian Boero