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Opinion, commentary and analysis on everything that makes the U.S. housing economy tick -- not to mention the ghosts in the machine, too. Written by HW's team of editors and reporters each business day.

Redfin tries to nab future homebuyers early on

February 6, 2013
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It’s a little convenient that I am a real estate reporter in the process of buying my first home. I am able to stay abreast of all the housing news, rates, trends, etc., to keep me informed through the entire process. So, when Redfin offered a free class for first time homebuyers, I decided it could benefit me both professionally and personally.

I was curious what Redfin’s motivation was behind offering this one-night class. When I walked up, they had food, drinks and desserts spread out for everyone… all the fixins of a good night.

Redfin differentiates itself from some other online real estate marketplaces in that it provides the agent for you. Redfin agents aren’t paid commission, but by salary.

In a typical home sale, the 6% commission is split by the selling and buying agent, which Redfin does as well. However, generally a portion of the commission received by the Redfin buying agent is refunded to the buyer, the company said in its presentation. The refund is calculated based on the list price of the home, so a more expensive home would yield a larger refund.

As was expected, Redfin spent some time “selling” their agents and explaining the benefits of using a Redfin agent. But, as I was busy munching down on a free quesadilla, I didn’t mind the sales pitch as much.

Several different speakers were brought in to address the class. Two different agents discussed the home-buying process from touring to closing day. One of Redfin’s preferred lenders sat down and spoke about pre-approval, credit checks and everything loan-related. A Redfin broker also talked to the class about utilizing the company’s website and mobile presence to set up alerts when new homes are listed.

It seems that I'm not the only one impressed by Redfin. In a press release from the company, it was revealed that customers requesting its home tours were up 57.9% in January, compared with an increase of 52% in 2012.

Overall, the course was very informative to a first-time homebuyer. There was a lot of engagement from the speakers and I was able to ask specific questions as I wanted. I found out Redfin offers several other classes as well. The next class will review a contract from start to finish, so first-time homebuyers have an idea of what they’re signing.

My main takeaway from this course is that Redfin is trying to position itself in a competitive marketplace as user-friendly. The company displays all agent reviews, good or bad, on its website. Additionally, Redfin agents are given bonuses based upon their online reviews, so customer satisfaction is key to the company.

I'm looking forward to seeing what this company will be rolling out this year, both as a HousingWire reporter and a 2013 homebuyer.

mhopkins@housingwire.com

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