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Redfin OpenBook offers reviews of title agencies, lenders, inspectors

Expanding reviews

Redfin has long made reviews and ratings of their agents public and are known for publishing the results of internal surveys which every client is asked to take, even if they don’t close. The company has taken the next step in their review system and put their database of ancillary services to use and is today announcing “OpenBook” in Washington D.C. and San Francisco, which is a directory of local service providers including lenders, inspectors and title companies.

The company says they will soon launch in other cities and add stagers, landscapers and craftsmen to the mix of public reviews and rankings for all site visitors in what they call an effort to improve transparency. They say no kickbacks are accepted and there is no revenue model for OpenBook.

Redfin CEO, Glenn Kelman said in a statement, “The goal is simply better customer service. The best real estate agent in any market is good because of her own skills, but also because of her team, and her ability to hold that team’s feet to the fire when a loan or a listing is on the line.”

Redfin says that service providers who have the highest customer ratings and a proven track record of delivering great service are screened by Redfin and only the best become “Redfin Certified.”

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Quality over quantity

The company asserts that the focus is quality over quantity, featuring only partners that perform well in their transactions, not a directory of all service providers. Kelman said, “Because we honcho a transaction the whole way through, hundreds of times a month, we know which inspectors and lenders our customers are using. Redfin’s online Deal Room, for tracking who is supposed to do what to close on time, stores information about thousands of vendors in a big database.”

Kelman added, “And we already survey every customer, deal or no deal, so it’s easy to ask each customer about his lender, inspector or stager. This means that we can validate every review, to avoid the bogus reviews from vendors’ friends and competitors that plague most review sites.”

Right now, the reviews are based solely on Redfin clients’ experiences, but Kelman notes that OpenBook may be open to the public in the future but will continue to be verified as legitimate consumers.

The launch of OpenBook is sure to be contentious in the industry, but the timing shows gumption as the company attempted to publish all performance data of all Realtors in America. Continuing to push forward after shutting down the “Scouting Report” in under a week after it launched is another sign of Redfin’s continued push to make noise in the industry once again.

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