The Real Estate company Redfin recently announced the release of its Agent Scouting Report in its various markets around the US. This allows Redfin “clients” (term in quotes because anyone can sign up at Redfin.com and instantly be a “client”, whereas most agents think of a client as someone who has signed an actual Listing or Buyer Representation Agreement).
What is the Scouting Report? It allows consumers to view some stats on the current and past activities of Austin real estate agents. Here is a screen shot of Sylvia’s below, so you can see what we’re talking about, then I’ll elaborate further.
It would be a good idea to click on the screen shot to view an enlarged version. If you have a Redfin account, you can click here to view the actual live version.
The Scouting Report allows anyone, in seconds, to type in the name of an Austin Realtor and see what the past 36-month production stats are for that agent. If this becomes a widely adopted and accepted way for consumers to evaluate agents before hiring, it could be a game changer for our industry. I’m all for it, with some reservations. But overall, I think it’s a good thing.
For example, Sylvia’s Scouting Report will reveal that, in the past 36 months, she’s closed 107 sales (53 Buyers, 54 Sellers), which is about 3 per month over a 36 month period, through the Austin MLS. It doesn’t include builder sales or non-MLS sales. The report will show a map of the location of each home and a link to the photos, sold price and full details of each sold home. The easy-glance maps helps a consumer see the geographic areas of operation of an agent, and where the concentration of business is for that agent.
One word keeps appearing in most of the articles and Blogs I’ve read about this – “Disruptive”. As one who thinks the term “disruptive is thrown around too often by the media, especially in the past 5 years about the real estate industry, I think this could actually be disruptive to the real estate industry and its agents.
Let’s start with one well known fact. Real Estate Consumers do a very poor job of selecting agents. The Scouting Report might change that and start weeding out the dead wood agents from the industry.
The discount Broker Redfin, which I follow with interest even though it doesn’t serve Austin, looks like it’s making yet another move toward traditional real estate services. Rather than facilitating the wholesale disintermediation of the traditional Realtor, Redfin instead continues to adopt more and more of the traditional Realtor approach and offer smaller rebates to its clients, while still bashing the old real estate business model that economic reality is pushing them toward.
What does this mean? If you want to list your house for sale in a Redfin city, the Redfin Agent will actually come view your home first. Pretty cool, I know. Turns out that seeing a house before you list it is helpful after all. But it gets better…if you are a buyer, and want to be shown a house, your Redfin agent will now actually set a time to meet you there and let you in. Are you feeling goose bumps yet? Again, this is nifty stuff, having an agent treat you like you are important.
The Redfin business model at first required buyers to figure out how to get inside homes themselves, either by waiting for an open house, or getting the listing agent to come show it, or more notoriously, duping a dumb unsuspecting agent into thinking they are going to work with them, and using that agent to see homes without disclosing that they are a Redfin client.
When that model ultimately proved less than ideal, the idea of “showing tours” was introduced, which allowed a buyer to purchase “a 3 hour tour, a 3 hour tour” of homes for $250 each. But the weather started getting rough, and that concept failed to vanquish the traditional Realtor as well. So now what?
A couple of days ago, I received the announcement that Redfin now offers “unlimited buyer tours”. Uh, that sounds like what we do as traditional Realtors. We show our buyers homes until the right one is located.
From the Redfin blog Nov 6, 2008.
Unlimited Tours, Agent Choice
To hit the mass market, we’re upgrading today our home-buying service to offer free unlimited tours, and a choice of agent, and support from that agent all along the way.
Sound familiar? Pick the agent you want, see as many homes as required before making a purchase decision, and have “support” from the agent involved in the process “all along the way”.
And do you still get rebated 2/3 of the buyer agent commission? Nope.
50% Commission Refund
And we’re raising prices. Tours are now free — we used to charge $250 per tour – but we’re changing the commission refund for buyers from 66% to 50% (existing customers relax, you pay the old price). The average refund should drop from $10,000+ to nearly $8,000. If people use Redfin to sell one house and buy another, the total savings should still in most cases be about $20,000.
Then, in true “me thinketh thou doth protest too much” fashion, we are reassured that vast differences remain between the new Redfin Services and the Old Realtor.
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