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January 2010



Buying A House With Redfin

Yup…we did it. We bought our house with the website Redfin is basically a relatively new website that displays houses for sale online (includes pictures and all of the specs) and even assigns you a real estate agent that will help you close on a home. One thing I learned while buying a house is that ANYBODY can become a real estate agent. No offense to real estate agents but I would say a very large percentage of them are plain idiots. We actually went through 2 agents before settling on redfin. And we met countless agents at all of the open houses we went to. Many times they would lecture to us about the housing market or about loans and it was plain obvious that we knew more than them. I was like….how do these people get clients?????

Now, I’m not going to say that Redfin is perfect but they were miles better than when we were working with any other agent and I’ll explain why a little bit later. It’s so funny too because whenever we would meet a real estate agent and the topic of Redfin came up they were quick to bash them…maybe because they do their job better than them? If I were an agent, I’d be scared too. I see Redfin being the wave of the future for the real estate market honestly. So now I will list the pros and cons of buying a house with redfin.

– You get half of the commission back. When you buy a house with a regular real estate agent, they get 3% of the selling price as their commission. If you buy with Redfin, you split that commission with them so you get 1.5%! This can turn out to be a hefty sum…for us it was over $7K that we got that we wouldn’t have normally gotten with any other agent.
– Everybody gets paid on customer satisfaction, not on you buying a house. Everybody we encountered from Redfin was SO NICE and had the best customer service ever. They were very helpful and were quick to reply to any questions we had. We first put our bid for the house right before Thanksgiving weekend….our agent was working for us ON Thanksgiving Day!
– Everything is electronic. If you’re comfortable with the internet and email you will LOVE this aspect. All of the papers we had to sign were through email using an e-signature. And it was pretty much the easiest thing I’ve ever done. And afterwards you have an electronic copy of all of the papers. Very convenient.
– There’s even a Redfin iPhone app. How cool is it that I can shop for houses on my phone??

– Although I felt like everyone we worked with seemed very competent at their jobs and knowledgeable, I did feel during the negotiation period our agent wasn’t as “tough” as she could have been. In other words, she wasn’t the best negotiator…so in this case, being too nice was not a good thing! But I was reading reviews on the agents (they are all online), you can see that some agents are better skilled at negotiating than is just luck of the draw I guess. In the end, she was good enough and I was overall happy with her.
– Their website/listings only gets updated once an hour. We had many agents tell us how Redfin is not “uptodate” like the listings they see but for us that didn’t matter. It’s not like we can go run and see a house the minute a house gets on the market! But I put it here as a con because it might be for some people.
– You have to find your own houses. This can be a time consuming process and I suppose it might be nicer to have someone else sift through the houses to show you but for us, it wasn’t too bad. Plus Redfin has an email feature where you can put in the specs you like and they will email you when a house that fits your description goes on the market. I noticed many real estate agents are doing a form of this nowadays anyways instead of handpicking houses for you.
– They don’t do short sales. This was a bummer to us but when we had our own real estate agent he didn’t do them either!

The process of buying a house through Redfin is relatively easy. You just go through the listings and pick whatever house(s) you want to see and click “Go See It”. You put in the times you are available to go see it and they assign you a local field agent. This whole process is very fast….you can even schedule to see something the next day. The best part is they do not pressure you to buy a house at all. Again, they get paid on customer satisfaction! If you decide to buy a house, they then assign you a “lead agent”. This person holds your hand through escrow and all of the paperwork/negotiations. We actually never met this person but did all of our dealings through phone and email. That’s kind of weird but convenient because it’s a lot easier to not have to coordinate meet up times since we’re both very busy and work pretty late.

Would I buy a house with Redfin again? Absolutely! Like I said, it wasn’t the perfect experience but if I had to work with a random agent or Redfin I would definitely pick Redfin. I think even if I knew an agent (which we did and regretted using him), I don’t like the pressure of feeling bad about taking so long to buy a house. Plus, you get that fat refund at the end….so worth it!

If anyone has questions about Redfin…feel free to ask!


Comment from Hakushaku
Posted: January 20, 2010 at 10:31 am

Very interesting, I’m sure the Agents must be crapping their pants.

I also did sort of wonder what is the purpose of the real estate agent in this day and age. If I can shop for a hooker on craigslist without an “agent,” why do I need one for a house?

Comment from Ahava
Posted: January 20, 2010 at 11:21 am

We used Redfin too when we bought our condo last year. We also had a bad experience with the agent not negotiating for us. It was a little bit different, since we were buying a brand new unit and dealing with the builder rather than a previous owner, but still we felt that she should have pushed for us when she did not. She seemed to be in a hurry to close the deal, rather than get us a good deal. I felt like that was a product of the system and not necessarily her fault, though there may have been a better agent. She also seemed a bit exasperated at having to explain everything to two well-informed first-time buyers.

Aside from the agent, we would use Redfin, or a similar-style online real estate site, again. We really enjoyed looking through the listings and deciding which were worth seeing. Who knows better than us what we want in a home? That actually also helped us agree on which features were our priorities.

We never talked to a traditional agent, aside from a few at open houses, but I suspect we weren’t nearly as pressured when we went to view properties as we may have been if we were working with a traditional agent.

Oh, the neighborhood analysis and other statistics were also helpful, for a couple of data-whores like us ^_^

Congrats on the new home!

Comment from girlrobot
Posted: January 20, 2010 at 12:37 pm

Ahava – Thanks for sharing your experience! We were first time home buyers as well and our agent was actually very patient with all of our questions. We felt pretty comfortable with her. I guess like before, it is luck of the draw!

I also forgot to mention that one of the many pluses of using Redfin is that since they are an internet based company, everybody who works there is very well “connected”. We were always able to get our questions answered very fast and our agents responded to emails almost instantly. I can’t say this for the rest of the industry since when we interacted with other agents or even with escrow….it would take DAYS to get a response from them either phone OR email which was so frustrating.

Comment from che
Posted: January 20, 2010 at 1:21 pm

if redfin knew some of your criticism it could help them improve their process and the experience could be nicer for those of us buying houses in the future! do you know if you find a house if you HAVE to use their agent, or can you use your own?

Comment from girlrobot
Posted: January 20, 2010 at 2:22 pm

actually at the end of the whole process they send you a survey and welcome your comments and criticism. I will definitely be sharing my thoughts when I fill mine out.

you don’t have to use their agent. their listings are open for anyone to use/see. i am not sure if once they show you a house if you have to use their agent…i do not remember signing anything but I could be wrong and there may have been some small print I missed?? I was planning on buying with them so I did not look out for that. i do have to recommend their agents as a whole though…they have the process very streamlined and their agents have experience closing 100s of houses. their paperwork method is so efficent!

Comment from Matt Goyer – Redfin
Posted: January 25, 2010 at 9:49 am

Hi Girlrobot,

We’re pleased to hear that your home buying experience was a positive one and that you’re recommending us. Thank you!

Though I am sorry that we didn’t live up to yours and Ahava’s expectations around negotiating. We’ll take that feedback back to our team and do a better job next time. Also know that at Redfin you do have a choice of agents so if someone’s reviews are more to your liking you could switch agents.

As for how often we update our site. For most MLSes in Southern California we update every 30 minutes.

As for che’s question about whether you need to use our agent if you find a house you like. Whether you see a house you like on our site or you see the home using Redfin you are not obligated to use us as your agent.

Comment from BasiaM
Posted: January 29, 2010 at 11:38 am

Congrats on buying a house! We bought ours with Redfin last May and were very satisfied with the experience. I actually like the fact that you do the research yourself – with such big decisions I like to make sure I know as much as I can. Our agent was a very good negotiator and she got us a great deal in a pretty difficult situation. I’d recommend Redfin to anyone.

Comment from suki
Posted: February 4, 2010 at 12:41 pm

I didn’t use redfin because my purchase required going to court. But yeah it makes looking for a house a lot easier when it can be done online.

Comment from Anon
Posted: September 9, 2010 at 9:40 am

Redfin are bunch of idiots… useless agents that do NO work for you, their forums riddled with idiots and biased, unfair moderators who think being attacked by other posters and trying to defend yourself is inappropriate, etc etc etc…

Don’t waste your time using this crap service or website….go to a real agency and get a real agent…you get what you pay for…..using discount garbage to get a home is NOT a wise thing to do.

Comment from girlrobot
Posted: September 19, 2010 at 3:42 pm

Anon – have you tried using their service? I wouldn’t really base their business on their forums….I did not even use their forums when buying my house.

You actually just sound like a real estate agent who I’ve noticed really hate Redfin since they are taking their jobs away.