Another nail in the Redfin coffin?

Redfin has announced that they will discontinue “Sweet Digs”, the blogging program they instituted several years ago for each of their major markets. They paid individual bloggers, most with no real estate experience, to write about real estate in their respective cities. They initially hired 7 writers, and each were paid $200 a week, so this move should save them at least $5000 a month.

One of the problems that Sweet Digs had initially was that they were limited to discussing just their own listings, or risk violating MLS policies about “advertising” other agents listings without permission. They were first fined $50,000 in 2007 for doing that, but apparently didn’t learn their lesson and they were fined $25,000 again just 6 months ago.

I suppose $75K in fines and $5K a month in employee salaries, plus the costs for all the links they buy on Curbed (386 links and counting) wasn’t worth the SEO, even though it did propel them to the top of real estate search in many cities.

But if there aren’t any buyers, what’s the point?

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  1. Matt Goyer

    Hi Marlow,

    We’re not discontinuing Sweet Digs; we’ll be launching a new format next week. Let us know what you think!

    And we don’t pay for links on Curbed.


  2. Debra Sinick

    As a Realtor who works for the largest brokerage in the Seattle area, Windermere, I have to say I like some of the articles that have been written on Sweet Digs. Am I a fan of critiques of listings? No. But I do find some of the blog articles have had some good thoughts. Over the last year, I’ve exchanged many thoughts with Katrina Munsell on her eastside posts and she has done the same with me.

    As with many things, there are some good things and I think some of the writing of Sweet Digs has been good.

  3. Marlow Harris

    I agree, they often had some great posts on their Sweet Digs site.

    However, since they’re a brokerage in direct competition with the other brokerages in the State, they needed to be held to the same standard as everyone else.

    If you or I wanted to write about a particular house for sale that was not our listing, we had to get permission.

    Their mistake (or arrogance) was to think that they didn’t have to do that, and those fines were the result.

  4. Leanne Finlay

    Debra and Marlow, I do think Katrina wrote many good posts, but I think our licensing regulations from the State require anyone discussing real estate with prospective clients be licensed.

    Do you remember when one of the real estate companies got in trouble for allowing their front desk staff to give buyers information (such as price) over the phone? Even an open house must be staffed by a licensed agent, although you can also have ‘hosts or hostesses’ too.

    I’d tend to think that someone writing about a listed house, on a real estate company website, would be construed to be promoting real estate, and ought to be licensed. Perhaps if the posts were not ‘authored’, no license requirement would be needed, but these posts even had links to discuss the post (and therefore the property) with Katrina and other authors … which seems to me that they needed to be licensed agents, even if they passed along the contact info.