Redfin, the real estate company based in Seattle, is rolling out a new program that enables home buyers to bid on properties via its website.
According to a report in The New York Times, Redfin started testing the program in Boston and is gearing up to expand it to other parts of the country. It’s trying to bring eCommerce to the real estate market with the service. Redfin Chief Executive Glenn Kelman told The New York Times that at the end of March it started accepting online bids from people who aren’t represented by a real estate agent. It was for listings in the Boston area. Sellers who accept an offer pay a 2 percent commission, which is half of the normal fee for the area. That means a person selling a home could save $10,000 on a $500,000 transaction, reported The New York Times. Redfin that said of the 120 homes that were listed through Redfin from late March to the early part of May, five were purchased through the online service, dubbed Redfin Direct.
Making an offer for a home online may seem like a no-brainer as everything moves into the digital world. But it’s not as easy as purchasing a product from Amazon. According to the paper, customers who go this route have to answer 55 questions providing advice on financing, inspections and making the offer. Despite that, the Redfin CEO said the response in Boston has convinced the company to roll Redfin Direct out elsewhere. “We’re going to expand one market at a time,” he said.
Redfin isn’t alone in launching programs enabling house hunters to make offers online. The paper pointed to rivals Zillow, Opendoor and Offerpad as a handful of examples. These web-only real estate companies, as well as traditional players such as Coldwell Banker and Realogy, have launched services that let sellers get offers directly from the companies. Redfin is going after it slightly differently, letting home buyers do the bidding.