Redfin co-founder David Eraker back in real estate with seller-focused brokerage Surefield

Seattle-based firm uses 3-D virtual tour technology to market sellers' homes

Redfin co-founder David Eraker has launched another Seattle-based real estate brokerage with a heavy emphasis on technology, this time focused exclusively on sellers.

Surefield is a full-service brokerage, but its virtual tour technology — which uses digital cameras and laser scanners to build a virtual model allowing house hunters to navigate a property inside and out from their computers — is its main value proposition, Eraker said. The same technology will construct two-dimensional floor plans to accompany the virtual tours.

Screen shot of SureField's home page.
Screen shot of SureField's home page.

David Eraker

David Eraker

Eraker, who serves as the new firm’s CEO, hopes sellers will see Surefield’s technology as a marketing edge and engage the brokerage. He said the quality of its virtual tours will help draw more prospective homebuyers to its sellers’ homes, and do a better job than other listing sites of filtering those who are serious and want to view the property in person from looky-loos, Eraker said.

Within Surefield’s virtual tours, users can navigate both inside and out of a house by clicking their way through rooms and areas in an action similar to Google Street View. They can also use their cursor to give themselves a near 360-degree view — including overhead and below views — during any portion of the tour. The tour currently works only on desktop computers, but a mobile functionality is coming soon, Eraker said.

Eraker co-founded Redfin in 2002 and led its product and business development before leaving in 2006 for endeavors outside of real estate. Another Redfin vet, Rob McGarty, who worked as both an agent and director of lender programs during his stint at Redfin from 2006 to 2010, is Surefield’s chief operation officer.

True to its seller focus, Surefield has no real estate search on its website. The company currently has two licensed agents in the Seattle area and is a member of the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. But once it’s established itself, the firm is looking to expand to other places as quickly as it can, Eraker said.

If Surefield can mimic Redfin’s path, it will be in good company. Seattle-based Redfin, which operates as a brokerage and referral site in 23 markets, has been on a tear in recent years. It raised $50 million in November in a move that’s been seen as moving it along the path to an initial public offering.

SureField

Screen shot of demo Surefield virtual tour. The lightly shaded rectangle represents one of the areas that users can navigate to within the tour.

Some sales require homeowners to deal with up to 30 to 40 visitors, Eraker said. Surefield wants to remove that headache for sellers and is betting some will value it enough to choose the firm.

“It’s a premium way to list your house, priced the same as any other full-service brokerage,” Eraker said. “It’s an entirely new way to sell a house.”

Surefield will refer any buyers it comes across to other firms, Eraker said.

Eraker says he and his team considered licensing the virtual tour technology Surefield developed to other firms, but they realized that to get the best results the firm had to control the experience. In that vein, Surefield’s seller service includes a full housecleaning and staging on the day it’s photographed for the virtual tour.

That’s a different tack than other virtual tour technology players like Matterport, which makes a sophisticated camera and technology it sells and licenses to real estate pros so they can make 3-D virtual tours.


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