As I've written elsewhere, Redfin's a great company, in some regards. It might be useful to ask their agents what they offer you besides access and a rebate.
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.