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Redfin and fifty of their referral program agents part ways



Redfin down fifty agents

National discount brokerage Redfin operates a “tiny, exclusive partner program” in areas where they do not operate offices and recently announced they have removed 50 partner agents from the program mostly in part to “mixed reviews” from consumers.

Redfin is notorious for asking consumers for feedback on agents through various steps in the real estate transaction and rather than let agents simply hang a license and pay a desk fee, Redfin has been very public about their willingness to let agents go which is a trait we admire and wish was adopted industry-wide.

In Redfin’s announcement of their removing 50 agents from their referral program, they noted that 42 were removed for “mixed reviews” while eight were removed for giving Redfin fake emails for their non-Redfin agents so that when Redfin surveyed their other clients (a standard practice agreed to when becoming a referral partner), they faked the reviews. Redfin claims they have software that can easily detect fakes.

Interestingly, Redfin states they don’t end up accepting 65% of all applicants to the referral program and of those accepted, they “end up asking one in six partner agents to leave the program later.”

Redfin’s announcement could be seen as a PR stunt and recruiting tool by some, while others may see it as a line in the sand as the company stands up for their culture. What do you think about the announcement?

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  1. Sig

    May 9, 2011 at 7:07 am

    If agents "faked reviews" and/or Redfin fires them as part of a PR Stunt, then I think I"ll stay away. Who do you trust at this company?

  2. Matthew Thomson

    May 9, 2011 at 9:14 am

    I think it's odd that it was an announcement. We "de-hire" agents frequently if they aren't a match for our culture and don't add to our office in areas other than production.
    We don't announce it though…we don't believe that allows them to leave with dignity.
    A common saying in our company is no one transaction is worth your reputation, and that goes for any one agent as well.

  3. Greg Cook

    May 9, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Lani, I'll probably get vilified for this, but good for RedFin for sticking with their business model.
    Brokers who are living under the old model are facing serious financial challenges because more doesn't equal better.

  4. Jason fox

    May 9, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    Redfins partner program is an excelkent program for most agents to take advantage of. They send agents a high number of leads, with a way above average closing rate. Agents are not required to pay for the leads untill closing, and Redfin only takes 15%, with another 15% going to the buyer/seller.

    It seems like Redfin does alot of work, and is staking its reputation on affiliates. By announcing the parting of ways, they are sending a message that the service they are offering is a benefit, and not just another cheesy lead source. It makes sense to me.

  5. Ben Fisher

    May 9, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    Completely agree with Jason here. Don't blame them one bit for this decision.

  6. Nikki

    May 9, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    If you think about it, any brokerage or individual agent simply has to do this in order to guarantee that the customer has a great experience when they make a referral in some way or another.

    I know agents who have had to stop sending referrals to agents they once were partners in the same office with after some client complaints, and brokerages who prioritize new leads to certain agents on their version of an "e-team" because they have proven that they give great service to someone starting their home search online.

    Caring about the experience of the customer makes this a necessity for everyone in the business who ever makes a referral. Everybody does this – but I don't know if this should be news. Interesting to read everyone's comments!

    P.S. Kudos on the Trump pic, Lani! Perfect accompaniment to the article.

    P.P.S. If this is the first time they are restricting referrals to some of their less service-centric partner agents, they waited too long!

    • Matt Goyer - Redfin

      May 12, 2011 at 3:52 pm

      Hi Nikki, we've been doing this since day 1. Just the first time we've talked about it publicly :).

  7. Mike Cooke

    May 10, 2011 at 8:27 am

    The Redfin model is based on multiple contradictions and fallacies.

    They claim to want only exceptional agents but their model is based on commission rebates and discounts. The commission structure attracts struggling, unsuccessful agents and thus works against Redfin's stated goal of offering a superb client experience.

    Redfin is built on an unexamined assumption that all agents are created equal and that all agents get the same result for a client. Thus, in their world, the best agent is the cheapest agent.

    But agents are not commodities like cars. Agents provide a service that is dependent on experience and expertise with a number of diverse skills like pricing, staging, marketing, negotiating, etc. A weakness in any area can cost a client big bucks. What good is it if your agent gives back 1% of his commission but his weak negotiating skills caused you to pay 2% more for the house than you would have paid if you had a better agent who gave no commission rebate?

    Think of it this way: Some football players are starters while others are 2nd string and 3rd string players. And they are not all paid the same amount because they are not all equally skilled at the game.

    Well, real estate agents are like football players. They are not all equally skilled. The Redfin model is set up to attract 3rd string players but expects them to perform like 1st string athletes. Good luck with that one.

    • Matt Goyer - Redfin

      May 12, 2011 at 5:29 pm

      Hi Mike,

      We certainly don't believe that all agents are created equal which is why we've invested so much into making sure we hire only the best and then retain only the best.

      I know some folks have a hard time understanding why good agents would choose the salaried world of Redfin over the traditional commission split model, but we've found that there are many great agents out there who love working with customers and don't miss the split/desk fee work or having to do their own customer generation.

      We too were worried about our agents negotiating experience and dug in and found that our agents are just as good if not better negotiators:

      Hopefully you work with one of our agents soon!

  8. Milan in Portland

    May 21, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    I think Mike put it well. There is an inherent contradiction between discounted commissions and first class customer service, though I am nonetheless impressed by the Redfin reviews and have always appreciated their search tools.

  9. Mike

    July 15, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    Redfin is taking the real estate industry to a whole new level with customer service being key. I think it’s great. If Redfin wants to be successful with it they can’t afford to keep unethical agents around.

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Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home

When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?



Looking at the bigger picture

(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).

That said, dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).

They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.

“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”

Click here to continue reading the list of the 12 best places to buy a home…

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Housing News

Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?

With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.



aging housing inventory

aging housing inventory

The average home age is higher than ever

(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.

With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.

Prices of new homes on the rise

Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.

Click here to continue reading this story…

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Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?

The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.



zillow move

zillow move

Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes

(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub,, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.

Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.

So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.

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It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.

Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.

2. Two major media brands emerge

Last fall, the News Corp. acquisition of Move, Inc. was given the green light by the feds, and this month, Zillow finalized their acquisition of Trulia.

…Click here to continue reading this story…

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