Online real estate broker Redfin just launched a new feature called Offer Insights, which not only tells you what houses are on the market, but also what the actual purchase process was like for homes its agents sold in a given neighborhood.
Because Redfin employs local agents – unlike companies like Zillow, which focus more on lead generation for other brokerages – it has access to a lot more data than some of its competitors, including information about how many deals actually played out. This, argues Redfin, will “help guide buyers and sellers in many different aspects of a real estate transaction, including how to structure a compelling offer, negotiate a deal or price a home.”
At launch, Redfin will feature about 8,000 Offer Insights. Here is an example of what the written part of an Offer Insights will look like:
“This builder was not very flexible on price since the demand in the neighborhood had been strong. While we pushed hard for a discount, the builder countered back to full price. However, we were able to get back about 3 percent of the price plus a special promotional credit for a certain flooring upgrade.”
Redfin Agent, Kathryn Rion (Finn Hill, Kirkland, WA)
Redfin captures this data with the same tools its agents already use to prepare offers, so the moment one of its agents presents an offer, the data is already in its system. That could be a hazard for deals that are still in progress, of course, so until the deal actually closes, this data will not identify a specific house. Instead, Redfin will identify the home only by its neighborhood. Then, once the deal has closed, the client can decide whether to keep the data confidential or not. This way, Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman writes in a blog post today, means the Offer Insight will be removed “without ever having identified the property it was about.” Besides some of the data about the deal, Redfin’s agents also provide a sort of micro-blog about the deal.
Within the last few months, the real estate market has gone from tepid to overheated in many cities (not just boomtowns like San Francisco), with prices creeping up and bidding wars — which many real estate agents would have killed for a year ago — becoming pretty common again. The way things are going, even house flipping may soon return.
Technology companies like Redfin, Zillow, Trulia, Estately and various other real estate sites have changed the way people search for houses. They have made that part of the process far more transparent by providing users with easy-to-find information about a house’s purchase history, local schools and other publicly available data about the property and its location. The service that these sites provide, however, generally ends at the point where you ask your agent to show you a house. Besides services like Zillow’s estimates, real estate sites can’t help you all that much when it comes to the actual purchase, so getting this extra insight into the process through Redfin’s Offer Insights could give you a leg up in the increasingly competitive real estate business (until this next bubble bursts, too, of course).