Redfin releases sales data of most Realtors
Redfin, the discount brokerage that some in the industry love and some love to hate, got a lot of press for rolling out a new “Scouting Report” that shows consumers information about agent performance based on MLS statistics. It was initially rolled out in 15 markets, but was quickly yanked from several after concerns about the accuracy of the data being displayed. San Francisco is one of the markets where Redfin has made the data available, so I couldn’t resist pulling up my own scouting report.
Some within the real estate industry are howling that it is unfair to share this data with consumers, and others welcome it with open arms. I work for a brokerage that provides recent sales data (for agents that are a part of our brokerage) on our public facing website (although agents can opt-out if they wish). So I’m definitely in the camp that thinks the more data you share with consumers, the better.
Every change brings plenty of well-intentioned hand-wringing. Is the data accurate? Can it be manipulated? These arguments remind me of when Zillow first rolled out their zestimate. Transparency will do wonders to ensure that data gets more accurate and prevent manipulation. When every brokerage and association embraces the sharing of this information, no one agency would be in a position to manipulate data, and inaccuracies surface more quickly when many people review the data and data feeds.
Why hasn’t this data been available before?
Despite the well-oiled press machine, Redfin isn’t actually the first to ever provide stats like this. The scope of their reach, though, makes their move important. Technical arguments and issues haven’t been the obstacle to sharing agent performance metrics – association politics are. It gets to the core question of who a multiple listing service (MLS) is designed to serve. Is the primary purpose of an MLS to serve real estate agents, or is an MLS for consumers? For better or worse, the answer seems to be that a MLS is for agents. How else would you justify not providing agent performance metrics from consumers?
While I generally welcome Redfin’s actions, I’m not sure I agree that it’s a brokerage’s place to share performance data about agents outside their company. That said, I don’t think most associations would even considering changing their policies without the swift kick recently provided by Redfin. I also think any agent should have the ability to opt-out of any program that shares their performance data with the public.
Start a Conversation, change the conversation
Everyone wins when consumers make informed choices. Regardless of what your scorecard says about you, it’s a great way to start a conversation with a consumer. If you don’t think your MLS stats accurately tell your story or convey your value, be prepared and ready to help potential clients understand the value you bring.
So what if your stats show you’ve only sold 3 houses in the past year? Maybe there’s a reason for that, and maybe if you explained that reason to a potential buyer or seller it would make them want to work with you more, not less.
So what if your stats shows you had a listing that sat on the market for 8 months? If there is a valid reason, and you can help a potential client understand it, that conversation demonstrates your market knowledge and expertise.
The only person who loses when a consumer is more informed are the agents at the bottom of the barrel who don’t belong in this business. So let’s all help consumers understand who those agents might be – instead of relying on one “rebel” brokerage – and help consumers find agents that will do a great job for them.
Agent reviews, performance statistics, and other consumer-oriented service metrics are here to stay. It’s a shame that this data is only being published by Redfin. MLSs across the nation should take this as another wake-up call and challenge themselves to find ways that they can help consumers in their market make smart and informed decisions about hiring an agent. I don’t care how you mark it on the scouting report, I say the future is bright for great agents.