on the market for a month and a half. She wrote the contract offering to buy the house as-is and offering to pay for all inspections, including pest. When my sellers decided they wanted to keep the valuable dining room chandelier, she didn't ask for compensation for her buyers, she just said, "Ok". At the final
walkthrough, which she did not attend, the buyers were excited to see that my sellers had replaced the chandelier with a very nice fixture. Apparently the Redfin agent told them they would have to buy their own.
Lastly, on the day of closing, the Redfin agent asked me if I could deliver the keys to her buyers! (I couldn't,
so they had to drive 1 hour out of their way to pick them up at my office.) These poor first-time buyers didn't save money by going with Redfin, they lost money. Not only that, they were completely on their own.
There are full service firms that charge less than others. There are limited service firms that charge more than others.
There are full service firms that in reality only offer limited services and there are limited service firms that offer a good service.
So to unilaterally say one is better over the other is not doing your homework.
It really boils down to this. Do you want good service or the rock bottom price? Either is OK.
I personally am a value shopper not a price shopper. Meaning I donâ€™t buy an item because it is the cheapest one. I carefully consider the features and benefits compared to the price and then I make a decision and buy first what I want then the best price for it.
Be sure to interview several agents from different companies before you decide who to partner with. Many agents claim to be full service, but don't do a whole lot more than a limited service broker. Make that the agent you employ is aware of all of your expectations and is able to meet them.
Cynthia explained what she offers. This is what I offer:
As a full service broker, I provide the highest level of service possible. When I list your home, I take the long view. I don't just want offers, I want your home to close. My sellers have a pre-listing inspection and repair any defects. My company allows me to provide an approved list of vendors and service providers for repairs. We set up the appointments for you, get estimates, and are present during repairs if you cannot be. If you are unable or unwilling to make the repairs recomended by the inspector, we still are able to use the inspection to our advantage. We use it to adjust our price and prepare ourselves and buyers for any issues that will pertain to closing.
I personally provide and pay for a home warranty. This protects you during the listing period, and is a very attractive selling point. Just like the inevetability of your car going haywire as soon as the last payment is made, your dishwasher will rebel and ants will set up shop in your HVAC unit (literally blowing it up) as soon as you list your home. It happened to me and I don't want it to happen to you.
I stage every home. It could be as simple as removing clutter or rearranging the furniture, or as all encompasing to providing furniture and leasing artwork.
If you have relocated, I check on your home.
I am present at all showings, whenever possible.
My office caravans your property, so that every agent in my office knows your home.
I hold realtor lunches with prizes (we are suckers for a free meal) so that other agents in the area know and remember your home.
I conduct a multi-faceted marketing campaign: Internet, print media, direct mail, e-mai, and person to person contact. Everyone I know and most people I don't know all about your home.
I follow up on all showings and get responses, even if I have to personally go visit the buyer's agent. This provides us with the information we need to make any adjustments or address any issues.
I meet with you once a week. At this time we go over a new market analysis to make sure we are still competitive. We can address any questions or concerns you may have. I find this very effective since many agents dissappear unless they are notified of a problem or an offer. You, of course, can contact me any time with any questions or concerns, big or small.
I encourage the buyer's agent to personally present all offers directly to you in my presence. This way there is no confusion as to what is being offered. This is also a courtesey to the buyer's agent so that they know their offer has been presented and presented properly. Sad to say, but some dishonest listing agents will hold an offer in hopes of getting one of their own. This practice eliminates that possibility.
I evaluate all offers with you. I contact the buyer's lender to be sure they are approved for the loan and reccomend a high binder and proof of funds for a cash sale. I pull a CLUE report to be sure that the buyer hasn't filed many home owner's insurance claims that may prevent them from being able to insure the property, and therefore make them unable to purchase it. I do my best to determine the motivation of the buyer. I try to find out if they are relocating due to retirement, a new job, new baby, ect. All of this helps me help you negotiate the best price and terms, and to assure that the buyer is actually ready, willing, and able to purchase.
I continue to market your home until it closes, and reccomend we take back ups regardless of how strong a contract appears.
I assist you with your relocation, anywhere. If you are moving to a new area, I keep in close contact with you and your agent to be sure you are getting the service you deserve.
My services are not inexpesive.
I have no problem with limited service brokers. I feel that there is a place for them in the market, and that I am no more in competition with them than the Dollar Store is in competition with Neiman Marcus. I"m not being catty, both are respectable and profitable businesses, but they are not the same. So it is with limited service and full service broker.
I'm cranky too, but that's another story.
This might be helpful to you. It's the KRON news story comparing Redfin to full-service brokerages: I think it gives a decent overview of the different services offered: the link is below.
Once you've made up your mind which level of service fits your needs, you MUST interview the individual agent thoroughly. There are good agents and there are bad agents, whether you're looking into a discount brokerage or a full service broker. It's up to you to make sure yours is a good one and that you feel comfortable working with that person. I believe this is why there are so many responses to your question. There are folks out there who have had wonderful and poor service from both types of brokers. Thatâ€™s why so many successful agents get their clients from referrals. New buyers tend to first ask a friend if they know a great agent.
I work at Redfin, but I am not a real estate agent. However, there are a couple consistent things we hear from our agents about why they left traditional brokerages to work at Redfin â€“ it is the future of real estate, and they wanted to work in a pressure-free environment focused on customer service, not sales.
Personally, I came to work at Redfin to try to make a difference for consumers and work with smart, fun people. That said, Redfin is the perfect fit for me. Weâ€™re giving consumers a choice in how they buy and sell real estate, and empowering buyers with the information they need to make an informed decision â€“ they get a blend of the latest technology and counsel from experienced, local agents. And I get to work with and learn from tons of talented people. Our agents arenâ€™t new kids on the block. They have a wealth of knowledge to share with clients and co-workers.
Why shouldn't I get paid for that?
So I used Redfin, got prompt telephone and e-mail follow up and no arm twisting BS.
I would say to anyone considering using Redfin, check all the aspects of your service yourself and don't rely on the misconceptions in this topic trail and other bulletin boards. Some of the statements (such as, you have to fill out all your offer paperwork yourself) are completely wrong.
For buyers, if you need lots of advice on the right home/neighborhood for you, then you probably want a more traditional agent. But if you don't want someone to drive you around and try to persuade you to buy totally unsuitable houses, if you are happy to do lots of legwork, make up your own mind and call them when you're ready to make the offer, if you are organized and decisive, if the idea of pocketing a 5 figure rebate is attractive, I suspect you will be very happy.
Yes, you are pretty much on your own until you find the house you want, but from that moment we have felt totally supported and comfortable with Redfin. And when making a purchase of this magnitude, I like the fact that the person advising me gets paid a salary plus bonus based on customer satisfaction, not a direct amount related to how quickly we close a deal and for how much. How can any agent give impartial advice when their income depends on you being the winning bidder?
From my experience so far, Redfin deserve to be extremely successful and I wish them well.
I just received an email from a travel agency who is a member of our local chamber, and the subject line is........â€The Return of the Travel Agentâ€ The email referenced SmartMoney (May 2007) and USA Today (March 2007) and quoted customer displeasure with online booking sites, and stated full service agents had the upper hand in problem resolution. I received this on Friday, July 27th.
Anyway, Ruth, I have no problem with any discount real estate firm, as long as they are not piggybacking on the full service agent to do the work for which they are collecting compensation. My beef with Redfin is the expectation of full pay for not doing the job as a buyers agent. I think the seller should not have to pay Redfin the same amount that the seller would pay a full service buyers agent. I am applying principles of solid work ethic, honest pay for honest work. I am waiting for a seller to decline full payment to Redfin predicated on failure to perform the work contracted.
I believe consumers are entitled to make choices and certainly respect yours. I donâ€™t know the other firms you mentioned.
I donâ€™t foresee the displacement of the full service real estate agent, because the transaction is too lengthy and intensive. As an industry, we are in the midst of change, and that will continue. There are a few bumps and swerves along the travels, but I am optimistic that as an industry we will grow to be better through our upcoming changes. We could use a little bit of tweaking.
When I went to sell the home, I interviewed several agents/agencies and I used one of the best local full service offices. The service was a joke! After they did more harm than good, I fired them and went with a flat rate MLS listing service. As the saying goes, "If you want something done right you have to do it yourself." I am getting the same level of internet exposure as I did with the full service agency, I'm controlling the information given to potential buyers and buyer's agents and someone is always in the office available to help me out.
I have to agree with the Tax analogy. I use a tax program the majority of the time because it does the job I need it to do. However, there is the occasion when I am in over my head and will hire an accountant. Excellent Realtors are worth their commission. However, Real Estate Agents are going the way of the Travel Agents and Stock Brokers. Only the good will survive and the rest of the market will be using companies like Redfin, BuySide, and Flat Rate Listing services. When is the last time any of you used a travel agent? Times they are a changing!
I do my taxes myself, knowing full well that I may be leaving money on the table. A "full service" tax accountant can try to use FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) to get me to change my ways, but the reality is that's just what I do. I might well decide to use a professional tax accountant one of these days, but I won't do so because of a FUD campaign.
There is no 'standard' commission for real estate services, btw--there are many laws which prohibit anything which could be interpreted as 'price fixing'.
The services of a true Real Estate professional include so many behind-the-scenes tasks, including the marketing, consulting, negotiating, and overseeing all of the transactional details--a 'buy here-pay here' type of website could never hope to offer anything in comparison.
I'm working with Ernesto, one of their most experienced agents. He knows the area better than our last full service agent, and we delve into the nitty gritty of fractional financing and the idea of living near the J-Church with ease.
I understand that RedFin is a disruptive innovation for buyers agents. I'm a current homeowner, I'm looking for properties within 2 miles of my current residence, and I'm a member of a self-managed HOA.
I simply can't understand why I should give a buyer's agent 16K when I find the properties, can use my graduate eduction to read a disclosures agreement, and know the neighborhood.
Home searching is democratized, and I'm grateful for the trend.
On the seller's side, the agents should welcome the trend- when I go to a property, it's because I've done the research, discussed with my spouse, and I am serious about the place, whereas when I went with my last agent, half of the properties were not appealing.
I will likely sell my home with a full service agent. I'm in complete agreement that the value is there on this side of the equation.
I will use the 16K cash back I get on my new home purchase to offset the ouch factor of the 6% of the fee i will give to the seller's agent I select this month.
I will also really probe what exactly the agent will do for us- will we have staging, will we have broker's tours, what is the availability? Many of you sound like very passionate and professional agents, and this trend will ensure that your less able competition is weaned out, while you all remain the cream of the crop! True service speaks for itself.....and you will all do fine!
Full service agents have absolutely nothing to worry about if they take the process at face value.
Know that they are here, educate yourself how their process works, use it to your advantage and adapt.
This is not rocket science and we are not doing brain surgery here.
Redfin educates Buyers how to use Real Estate agents to find homes on their own and save money. Buyers don't know that they really don't save anything. The seller pays the commission. Har-har-har! Don't let yourself be duped.
If a Buyer comes into your office and you are an educated Realtor, qualify the Buyer just as we always have get them qualified and get a commitment out of that buyer before you ever put them in your car!
They buy from you or they don't get into your Mercedes or Cadillac or Hummer. By the way, if you are not driving one of those, you should be...
If you get them in your office, you have had more contact with that buyer than any Redfin agent ever did.
Get your mindset right and quit worying about Redfin.
Do Not show a house to an uncommited , unqualified Buyer. If a prospect is working with Redfin, you can get that out of them when you meet with them, and establish a relationship with them, and then sell them. The Buyer will welcome your professionalism and Redfin is now out of the picture. If they paid something to Redfin... reimburse them.
DO NOT get in your car and run out and show them the property because they called off the sign or the internet. Get back to the basics! Be professional... be a Realtor... be a salesman... be successful!
Regards, An agent. who loves her job.
I just wanted to clarify a couple things in this lively discussion:
1. We have local agents: Redfin has local agents in each market, so they are familiar with the area and it's quirks and positives.
2. We provide a CMA: On average, Redfin agents handle dozens of deals each month, so they are up to speed on home prices; they also prepare a comparative market analysis to ensure a house is priced right.
3. We call every customer: Every customer who submits an offer or listing will receive a phone call within four hours, during business hours. However, if an offer needs to be presented that evenign and the customer gives us a heads up, we'll work as late as needed to get it done.
4. You work with real people: Every customer has a dedicated agent and support team.
5. We go to inspections: It is required for a Redfin representative to attend every inspection. This is what our field agents do all day, so they know what to look for.
Redfin provides the same service as a traditional real estate agent, except we don't go to the house; when you are buying, we provide the technology to help you find a home and then handle everything from offer to close; when selling, we also provide a pricing consultation, MLS access. a yard-sign and lock-box, and marketing assistance.
I hope this helps clear up a couple things. Our Forums have even more information, or feel free to email me at cynthia.pang (at) redfin.com.
With a seller it's especially important to counsel them to minimize the issues that would harm resale. Colors, clutter, atmosphere are all important to the sale of a home. Redfin never enters your home to provide any guidance. I don't believe they provide follow up calls as well.
There's this belief among today's homebuyers that all of the useful information used to be bottled up behind the broker's lock & key, and that all of their value was in protecting this very proprietary information.
Which, simply, isn't at all true.
Even before the Internet, we went out of our way to make homes findable by the general public. Even back then, we put signs in front of the house, arrows on street corners pointing to the house, bought advertising in newspapers and shoppers, held open houses, and would sit down with anybody who asked to go over whatever latest compilation of listing information we had - listing books, photo cards, whatever.
Well, technology has improved, and real estate brokerages have fallen over one another in a race to get listing information to the public. Redfin's website is considered among the best, if not the best, website for home searches in the country.
Which doesn't mean that their agents are necessarily the "best" in their communities, although they may well be. But that's important.
Here in Seattle, I know a wonderful Redfin agent, who has confessed to me that they don't really know very much about houses. Or condos. They open the door for buyers, and either they or someone else gets the contract written, and the story ends.
I've done hundreds of deals over fifteen years in the biz, and I've evaluated thousands and thousands of homes for condition, livability, suitability for a variety of lifestyles, potential for renovation and expansion - this knowledge and experience has real value for many people. And it's quite possible that I've learned a little bit about negotiations along the line, too.
The question that only you can answer yourself is, is foregoing that level of knowledge in an agent worth shaving a point or two off the deal? - Fri Dec 11 2009, 16:38
You may well be missing something, but we're probably not going to be able to figure out exactly what in this forum.
One hint is that homes are not commodities, and can not be adequately evaluated with even a couple of hundred data points. Evaluation of homes extends beyond the basic room count, price negotiation and structural inspection, to include architecture and interior design elements, livability issues such as siting, natural light, privacy, landscape, interior traffic flow, exposure and outlook.
People who consider themselves qualified to evaluate such items as mechanical systems, finishes, quality of installation, often believe themselves to have a complete understanding of homes; I disagree.
But at the end of your story, you're the one who has to live in the place, and if you think that you create better value by hiring yourself as a selling agent instead of a GOOD buyer's agent, even considering your relative lack of experience, then nothing anybody says is likely to change that.
It was superb value and I will use them again if I sell or buy.
The real estate office Realtor I first used did everything by e-mail, fax and imaging. I found the properties I was interested in by going to open houses then telling the agent what I wanted to do. Then they faxed and e-mailed back and forth.
What's the difference? $13,000 and no difference in service
Several companies are attempting to provide discount real estate brokerage services on-line which I think makes sense on its face. However, no one has found an on line business model that competes with the value provided by working with a local agent from a good reputable firm.
For example, Redfin combs the mls for updated information on listing however it isn't always timely. Just yesterday, another agent was reporting to her client that a property had gone into contract and Redfin listed the property as still on the market.
Use a local agent who comes highly recommended! It was save you time, energy, and a huge potential pitfalls.
Redfin is a dangerous route to take if you are a buyer. There is no due dilligance done on your behalf. A full service buyer agent should not only help you find a property, but to see it, touch it, smell it and walk you through the inspections, go to the the town hall to pull documents to make sure you know what you are buying. It is my understanding that Redfin does none of the above. You get what you pay for!
I think it would be wonderful if Redfin agents were giving information to their clients, however the general experience has been that they are sending clients out to get information from other agents to return to them in exchange for "cash back"...
I'm glad you love your job and your company, that is important. I do feel that choice is important in the market place.
I as a traditional agent feel that nothing can compare to a full service, full time, educated, local agent who knows the local market intimately.
Just for the record I am not "...unwilling to move out their nasty couch or fix or paint their unit to get the best offer." Nor am I "penny wise, pound foolish". This is evidenced by our ability to sell our home in 93 days (Feb - April 2008) when other homes on our street were languishing for literally years through one traditional listing after another.
When we purchased we were forced to use a traditional agent due to traditional agents unwillingness to show homes to someone without an agent and unwilling to sign on with them. We went through 3 agents without finding the kind of dedication those who posted here claim to have and finally just resorted to searching out properties on our own and having her set up the appointments. She was equally useless during the frustrating process of negotiating buying a foreclosure (even though supposedly a "specialist").
Our experience confirms our long held feeling that there is little value to be gained by paying huge commissions.
This is the fallacy of the discounerâ€™s business model. These companies wish to rebate and dub themselves a "consumer friendly" "Anti-Trust busting" real estate company--but how much do you wish to give away to stay in business? If the DOJ decided tomorrow all fees for the sale of real estate would be locked in at 2% of the sales price how much would Redfin rebate then? How much would the discounters discount? What do you think this industry would look like in a few years if not months? What type of sales person would be drawn to this industry? How much would you guys give away then? Who would wish to cooperate with ANY other agent at that fee? The business system it takes to entail one to do 50 or 100+ deals would collapse under the lack of income. Mom and pops would fold, and the larger, craftier companies would hire employees and try and control the entire market. Your vaunted choice would cease to exist.
That all being said--alternative business models are as American as Apple Pie and Halloween! Just do me a favor--don't go running to the DOJ complaining "anti-trust" because the market rejects you.
And lastly, what are we all getting worked up about. Last time I looked Zip Realty's market share equates to their name! And the good folks at Redfin on their web site boast â€œIn 2007, Redfin represented over 1,00 satisfied clientsâ€ and they boast offices in Baltimore, Boston, Los Angeles, Orange County, Seattle, San Diego, Washtington,D.C. AND San Francisco. Now I donâ€™t know about you but that works out to about 125 deals in each City. They also claim to rebate at least $10,000 per â€œSatisfied Clientâ€. Thatâ€™s 10 deals a month. You guys can do the math!!
I believe one of the things that makes Redfin stand out from the crowd is that they offer rebates to their buyer clients. It seems to me that Redfin's success is therefore largely dependent on those brokerages that are negotiating the higher commissions with their sellers so that they can offer a reasonable commission to the buyer's agent. If agents only offered low commissions to the buyer's agents, Redfin would have nothing to give back to its buyers. So, Redfin's existence is much more dependent on other businesses than the traditional brokerages are.
My hope is that Redfin takes care of all its clients as I don't like hearing stories of incompetent and inadequate representation. There's too much at stake when people buy and sell one of the biggest assets they will ever have and bad stories give all of us a bad reputation.
Secondly, I can say that I currently have some first time buyers, we close on their home tomorrow, that originally went through a referral company that offered them a hefty rebate after the sale from the commission referral the buyer's agent would pay them. They weren't pleased with the agent, a traditional full service agent, that the referral company paired them with & they ultimately found me. As a traditional agent I can't give rebates, it's against the law in our state & against ethical rules & they understood that. They have told me that after all the details that had to be worked out with their purchase they feel that I was worth the rebate they gave up & then some. They know that I negotiated an excellent deal for them & handled situations & problems that may well have gotten overwhelming & lost them the home they wanted.
I feel that my job as a full service Real Estate agent is, first & foremost, one of relationship building & I don't believe that is possible when dealing exclusively on the internet. And I still don't understand how one buys a home without actually seeing it!!!
I often deal with out of town clients & start their search on the internet, locals also, but ultimately it's meeting face to face, building trust & seeing future home possibilities personally! Maybe investors who are going solely on the bottom line don't care about seeing the house they are purchasing, but it the buyer is going to actually live there........
I just don't think that these types of services will ever put the traditional agent model out of business. I do agree that perhaps the truly good traditional RE agents will be the ones left standing, but I think that's the case regardless of the presence of these internet models.
But as with any limited representation model - you get what you pay for! Buyer [and seller] beware.....
This particular Redfin Agent prepared my purchase offer for a property I had searched for and had wanted for a long time, but he refused my personal preference for a 5 Star rated Home Warranty Co. plan and insisted on a "mickey mouse", low rated, lesser known Home Warranty company with an overpriced plan.
He also wouldn't allow for the Seller to choose their preferred Escrow Company (Customary in Southern CA. Market). As recommended by many agents, I wanted to find the rates and fees my agent's Escrow Company charges and he refused and said this is the company we're going with and this is the Home Warranty Company, period! Later on, I found out through two listing agents that this soured two separate offers on two previous offers/deals on two homes I really wanted. I also Heard from one of the Seller's Agent of the previous home I had lost, was due, to the attitude of my "Partnered" Redfin Agent's rudeness and reluctance to alter my initial offer agreement and the Seller's Agent's simple request for me to put more EMD down. She also requested my agent to redo and re-present the initial offer. My agent refused and wanted her to make a counter offer with all of her request's because he said this is how it's done. She refused. Two agents bumping heads and I suffered losing a beautiful home due to a personality conflict for it, why? Who was right who was wrong?
The is my second Redfin Partner Agent, and my e-mail letters and telephone calls with questions as to why my offers had not come back with signed counter offers have gone unnoticed with a deaf ear.
Also, my request for his assistance in showing me MLS properties that I have looked at on the web after I carefully cross-referenced and checked if their in flood zones, and sewer connected etc. have not been returned with a response via e-mail nor by phone as far as appointment times and requesting a meeting place or any set time confirmations. Or at times my agent returns my e-mail list of properties I've located I want to tour and says their pending , then after verifying I find they are still available. Why did he lie to me? Who knows. It seems the homes I'm finding and notify my Redfin agent that I want to tour - he will check them out and will return my call hours later, to say we're too late they are now pending. So far, I have not received a signed counter offer working with this Redfin Agent, only him saying that the owner went with a better offer. When I ask him I'd like to make a back-up offer just in case the current offer fall's through, he doesn't e-mail me back and has a deaf ear or he says, "Next! Let's find another home" Which I end up doing on the web, he provides me no leads and no listings, only what I find and want to tour. I 'm starting to think something's very "fishy" about all of this...What? I don't know and I don't know how Redfin offers incentives to Partner Agents working with Redfin. My "partner" Redfin agent has flaked out on me over three times with late responses to my voice messages and e-mail inquiries on properties, that I had now lost due to his unpredictable hot and cold replies to my inquires.. I usually give a person three chances (both in business and in my personal life), but my current Redfin Agent has given me an excuse past my three strikes rule either saying he was busy with a family member who's sick or some medical excuse with his own personal health.
While I'm typing this out, and proofing what I'm typing and the past occurrences with properties I liked that mysteriously became pending and my agent's refusal to do a back-up offer on them- it's increasingly clear what is going on here...
I would like to go with a professional semi-full-service Buyer's Agent who is willing to work for me at the traditional standard 2.5 to 3% commission fee that the Seller will eventually pay my agent from proceeds from my loan, then there would be more room for negotiations for my offer on the listing price. It's been difficult for me finding a Buyer's Agent match in DHS, someone who isn't "pushy" with his or her clients, but pushy and aggressive with the Seller's Agents on properties I want to buy. An agent who really listens to what I'm looking for and what I am willing to do with minor fixer uppers. An Agent who isn't turned off by my list of safety things I need and some wants I would like. An agent who has FHA USDA knowledge - makes sure all paperwork, inspections, etc., are in order- who is in direct communication with my lender and the escrow company making sure a successful smooth transaction with my Lenders who has pre-approved my FHA, USDA and Conventional Loans, due to my excellent Fico score.