Redfin mingles MLS-listed homes with FSBOs, foreclosures

Web site displays addresses of bank-owned properties

Seattle-based real estate brokerage company Redfin has integrated foreclosure properties and for-sale-by-owner properties with its map-based search, and the company identifies the various property types with different icon colors and in detailed descriptions.

While some multiple listing services prevent this so-called "co-mingling," or side-by-side display of multiple listing service data with other data sources in property searches, Redfin officials say they believe their added search capability is compliant with MLS rules.

Salt Lake City’s BlueRoof.com brokerage company, Southern California-based Catalist Homes, and Boston-based CondoDomain.com have earlier offered the ability to search for FSBO properties.

Redfin spokeswoman Cynthia Pang said the company did take a close look at MLS rules. MLS officials advised the company that there was not a problem with displaying the various types of properties together as long as the properties are clearly defined as FSBO or MLS-listed properties, she said.

"We’re using different colored icons, we’re saying very clearly where the listing is from," Pang said.

And Redfin identifies instances in which a property that is listed in the MLS also is listed for sale by the owner.

"Consumers’ first question of any real estate site is whether it shows all the homes for sale," said Michael Young, Redfin’s chief technology officer, in a statement.

The addition of the for-sale foreclosed and FSBO homes at the Redfin site has increased the total properties at the site by about 5 percent, according to the company announcement.

Redfin, which offers deep commission rebates to buyers who work with its agents, has also added the ability for consumers to search for open houses, and allows users to request e-mail or RSS notices about upcoming open houses. Users can also choose to receive updates on selected homes, such as a change in price or status.

The company also added square-footage data from the Combined Los Angeles Westside MLS, remodeled its interface for retrieving records related to past home sales and improved its integration with MLSs in Boston and Southern California.

The FSBO property data is supplied by a group of about 50 FSBO Web sites, Redfin reported, including ForSaleByOwner.com, ForSaleByOwnerCenter.com, FSBOSellBuy.com and HomesByOwner.com.

Redfin’s foreclosure data features bank-owned properties that have been foreclosed, repurchased by banks and offered up for sale. The company displays addresses for these properties and contact information for the bank when the properties are sold directly by the bank. Some foreclosure data providers do not supply address information free of charge for foreclosure properties.

Redfin does not display foreclosure properties that are scheduled to be sold at auction, and the company announced that it has no plans to support buyers who purchase homes at auctions.

Pang said the company’s agents do not have any expertise in auction sales. "It is something we will look into but we haven’t yet," she said.

Redfin officials also announced Wednesday that the company has plans to work under a different compensation structure with buyers of FSBO properties and bank-owned or REO (real estate-owned) that are sold directly by the bank. Buyers of these properties would pay Redfin a flat fee and would not receive a rebate in the purchase transaction under the announced plans.

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