Seattle-based online brokerage Redfin has expanded to five new markets, boosting the number of listings on its site by 14 percent, the company announced today.
The new markets are Houston; New York City’s Bronx borough; Charlotte and the Raleigh-Durham area in North Carolina; and the state of Delaware. The move extends Redfin’s services to a total of 21 major markets and grows its reach by nearly 10 million new people — a 10 percent increase in audience size, the company said.
"For Redfin, this expansion demonstrates a fundamental broadening of our business model," said Glenn Kelman, Redfin’s CEO, in a statement. "A few years ago, the company’s service was viable only in a handful of coastal cities with the country’s highest home prices. As Redfin has developed new economies of scale, we have actually improved the quality of service while lowering costs, allowing us to bring new markets to profits quickly."
The expansion includes the brokerage’s first forays into North Carolina and Delaware. Houston is Redfin’s third market in Texas, after Dallas and Austin, and the Bronx is the brokerage’s third market in New York state, after neighboring Westchester and Long Island, the company said. This is Redfin’s first major expansion since opening in Philadelphia in March 2012.
Redfin is also active in Atlanta; Boston; Chicago; Denver; Las Vegas; Oregon; Phoenix; Sacramento, Calif.; San Francisco Bay Area; Seattle; Southern California; and Washington, D.C.
Redfin invests heavily in technology and rebates a portion of its agents’ commissions to buyers and sellers. Unlike the vast majority of agents working for other brokerages, most Redfin agents are salaried employees who receive bonuses based on customer reviews and don’t work on commission.
The expansion gives consumers in the new markets "access to a real estate service model based on customer satisfaction rather than commission, so folks get an agent who’s truly on their side, and the ability to save more than $10,000 in fees when buying one home and selling another," Kelman said.
Last year, Redfin reduced the commission refunds it offers to buyers, saying it was raising fees by an average of 16 percent to provide customers with "a one-on-one relationship" to their agents.
Last month, Redfin announced that its listing business grew 120 percent in 2012 and the company plans to more than double its staff of listing agents this year to serve rising demand from its expanding customer base.
Last week, Redfin announced it was displaying "Offer Insights" along with home search results, revealing details surrounding buyer and seller negotiations, including agents’ notes about why offers were accepted or rejected. The move inspired criticism from some and praise from others.
In December, Redfin launched "Collections," an image-sharing tool that allows users to build Pinterest-like pages with images from multiple listing services (MLS), with MLS-compliant attribution attached to them.