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Another great Redfin idea…about to collide with the reality of the real estate business

Kevin Boer, Broker Owner, 3 Oceans Real Estate, Inc. ()

December 1st, 2006 · 13 Comments

This by way of Joel Burslem from the Future of Real Estate Marketing

redfin.gif detective.jpg

Redfin is on the prowl for a cadre of real-estate-obsessed bloggers to tour neighborhood open houses, take pictures, and write up brief reports.  The objective –  “to create an insanely addictive blog about everything that moves in Seattle real estate.”

In the comments on Joel’s post, Greg Swann wonders if this is a conspiracy to avoid procuring cause dilemmas.  Personally?  I think it’s an excellent marketing idea, with no ulterior motive, and I certainly wish them the best…but, befitting Redfin, they may not have thought through this all the way.

First, many Realtor associations have bans on advertising other people’s listings without permission.  It’s a sensible rule, designed to prevent Agent A from taking out full page ads advertising Agent B’s listings.  Redfin already regularly talks about non-Redfin listings on its blog, and seems to have gotten away with it so far, possibly because the compliance folks at the realtor associations haven’t stumbled across them yet.  Is “talking about” somebody else’s listing the same as “advertising it without permission?”  Hard to say, but I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody tries to make a case out of it.

Secondly, if some random person comes in off the street on a weekend afternoon into an open house and starts taking pictures, most agents would put a stop to it pretty quickly on grounds of security and privacy.  Again, that’s probably quite reasonable — the pictures in the MLS are meant to give a good feel for the home, and some random person  taking pictures of it simply can’t make the listing agent or owner comfortable.

Finally, if any of the blog reviews are even remotely critical of a home, and the listing agent (or home owner) comes upon it…things could get dicey.  There’s First Amendment free speech and all that, but there’s gotta be MLS laws in most areas preventing Redfin from publicly panning somebody else’s listing.

That’s the thing about Redfin — they have some fantastic consumer-friendly ideas, but they don’t always seem to understand what the opinion of the industry will be.  Hats off, though, since pushing the envelope is the only way this business will make any changes.
Click on the image below for a copy of the Craigslist ad:


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13 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Pat Kitano // Dec 2, 2006 at 12:46 am

    Fine analysis of the disconnect between Redfin’s strategy squad and its Realtors … your simple explanation makes the problems all too obvious. I’m left with the same sentiment - Redfin’s intent is admirable, they need a few devil’s advocates on staff…

  • 2 Jim Lee // Dec 2, 2006 at 5:48 am

    Not how to win friends and influence people.

  • 3 Erik // Dec 2, 2006 at 6:50 am

    Kevin, I read the same ads and the same coverage elsewhere, but never thought of the events at this level. This was a very eye-opening article.

    I have to say, I admire Redfin because they are constantly pushing the limits of what people are expecting and they truly are disruptors within the industry.

  • 4 Joel // Dec 2, 2006 at 10:58 am

    Great summary Kevin. I was thinking along this very line of thought, though you put it into much clearer words. :)
    That’s why I think that Redfin should act simply as the lead ’sponsor’ of the blog and gives the bloggers autonomy. That way they can avoid any these issues.

  • 5 Kevin Boer, Three Oceans Real Estate // Dec 2, 2006 at 11:11 am


    Absolutely — Redfin is brimming with creative ideas, ones that would not likely come out of a company which had purely a real estate background. Left to its own devices, this industry would still be testing out fax machines as a novel concept.

  • 6 Athol Kay // Dec 2, 2006 at 8:28 pm

    How tiresome is writing about open houses going to get though. Also for $200 a week you’re meant to montior the entire blog continuously deleting spam and nasty comments and replying to comments.

    Sounds like no one at Redfin itself could be suckered into doing this. I mean if it only takes “a few hours a week”….

    Good luck getting people to link to the “Paid Redfin Shill Blog” too.

  • 7 Bad memory? Use technology to compensate… at Three Oceans Real Estate // Dec 3, 2006 at 1:01 pm

    [...] Hmmm…maybe I should contact Redfin and offer to sell them these property reviews as a way to jump start their property-blogging efforts? [...]

  • 8 Marie Hagman // Dec 6, 2006 at 11:09 pm

    Well we did it… the Redfin Seattle Sweet Diggs blog now has a few new writers as a result of the Craigslist ad. I’d love to hear what everyone thinks of the reviews. http://blog.redfin.com/blog/redfin/2006/12/redfin_strikes_again_sweet_dig.html

  • 9 Kevin Boer, Three Oceans Real Estate // Dec 6, 2006 at 11:33 pm

    Hi Marie,

    Thanks for dropping by! I’ve subscribed to both the Seattle and San Francisco feeds and am eagerly awaiting the first installment in my inbox. I assume you’re planning to syndicate these reviews via RSS as well?

    I’ve been brewing over a similar idea for a few months, but you guys beat me to the punch. I think the idea has great potential, and I certainly wish you the best of luck, but I suspect Redfin will get a lot of flack from the agent community: “How dare you, a competitor, comment on my listing?” Then again, Glenn has pretty thick skin, so I’m sure he only hired bloggers with a similar constitution.

  • 10 Marie Hagman // Dec 7, 2006 at 2:53 pm

    You can subscribe to our blogs via RSS by scrolling down a bit on the blog. On the right side under “Subscribe to Redfin” the last item is RSS 2.0.

  • 11 “Wisdom of Crowds” Meets Real Estate: Introducing My-Currency.com // Feb 1, 2007 at 8:03 pm

    [...] My-Currency will get sued within 3 months. Part of the financing for any savvy real-estate oriented service is a legal contingency fund, and I hope Karim doesn’t have to dig too far in to defend his otherwise brilliant idea. For what could he possibly be sued? Hey, come on, this is the real estate biz — it doesn’t have to be something substantive or real. Though temporarily pretending to play nice — due to the ever-entertaining DOJ vs. NAR carnival — the real estate industry will borrow from the RIAA playbook, and write a nasty legal letter, probably centering around the idea that My-Currency is “advertising listings without permission.” Karim, meet Glenn, another real estate entrepreneur whose great ideas often butt heads with the reality of the real estate business. [...]

  • 12 The Empire Strikes Back | 3 Oceans -- The San Francisco Bay Area Real Estate Blog // May 17, 2007 at 8:26 pm

    [...] It was inevitable.  First this, and now word from the Seattle Post Intelligencer is that the NWMLS is fining Redfin $50,000 because its “Sweet Digs” property review blog apparently breaks “rule 190″ — you know, the one that says you can’t “advertise” another agent’s listing without their express permission. [...]

  • 13 Bad memory? Use technology to compensate… : Domus Test Test Test // Jul 19, 2008 at 9:04 am

    [...] Hmmm…maybe I should contact Redfin and offer to sell them these property reviews as a way to jump start their property-blogging efforts? [...]

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