Redfin unveiled its new service today “Redfin Direct”, an online service for making an offer on a house. Redfin refunds a portion of its commission back to the buyer if they use their services. However, they will not show the house to the buyer, the buyer has to go in at an open house or through the listing agent. Apparently, they are making forms available online for the Buyer to write their own offer, though they are not available for review without registrering with the company first.
Redfin is taking the “Buyers Agent” commission, though they do not appear to be representing the Buyer in the writing of the offer, nor offering any advice or assistance beyond presenting the offer to the Seller’s agent.
For an experienced real estate buyer who already knows what property they want to buy, this might be an option to explore. However most regular agents will also offer some special considerations if the buyer doesn’t require a lot of extra services, property showings, neighborhood tours, lunches/latte’s bought, listings previewed and forwarded, research, emails, telephone calls, contract writing, negotiations, advice and general hand-holding.
A concern with this new service of Redfin’s is the property showings. They state in their online FAQ’s, that the buyer is to preview the home first at on Open House or through the listing agent.
Most agents will not, for safety and security reasons, meet strangers at a house. Why would they take that risk? The murder of Mike Emert of Windermere (Bellevue office) is still fresh in most of their minds, and there is word almost every month of some agent raped, threatened or killed at a house showing.
I’m sure no Seller would want an agent to take a risk like that, and, understanding the situation, what Seller would want their agent letting a complete stranger into their homes? Open Houses are still a risk, but, being on a Sunday afternoon with other people constantly coming-and-going, there is less chance of someone peforming a crime of opportunity without getting caught.
Sellers rely on agents enlightened self-interest to only allow qualified buyers into their home for a private tour, for both their safety and the safety of their agents, so I’m not sure how this will work in practice, but it will be interesting to watch and see. This may be a great way for Buyers to go trolling and make a number of lowball offers to see if they get any bites. However, a buyer who makes more than 10 offers in a 12-month period will have to start paying for them.
So trolling for deals might work for a house that has been on the market for awhile, but if the house is competatively priced and it’s a hot market, I wonder if using the Redfin online wizard will be enough to get a buyer the house? This may not work very well in a competative real estate market.
If anyone uses this service, please let us know and give some feedback and if they’re happy with the process.
The Seattle Times article Redfin offers one-stop shopping also offers some additional information.
Though many Buyers Agents just worked on a handshake, agents now would be advised to get Agency Agreements signed with each of their buyers.