Some of the biggest names in the discount real estate brokerage business — ZipRealty and Redfin — are geared to serving buyers rather than sellers, offering them access to deeper listing data via Virtual Office Websites, or VOWs.
But after making headlines as discounters, both companies have moved away from that label, preferring to be seen as "technology based" or Internet brokerages.
Now that they are established players, ZipRealty and Redfin have made a point of de-emphasizing the rebates and discounts they offer to clients. Both companies would rather sell consumers on their agents’ knowledge and expertise, and the wealth of information provided by their VOW portals.
Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman declined a request for an interview, saying in an email message: "We don’t consider ourselves a discounter or a limited-service company; we are technology-powered, and we aim to be better than traditional brokerages. Our (market) share has increased every year."
Brokerages affiliated with franchisor Help-U-Sell, who charge a set-fee for providing services to buyers and sellers, have also shied away from the "discounter" label.