Technology

Redfin enters Florida, now in 22 markets

Seattle firm now servicing buyers and sellers in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach

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Seattle-based brokerage Redfin has expanded operations to Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach in South Florida bringing its tech-focused model to a total 22 markets, the company announced today.

It’s the fourth major market Redfin’s opened shop in so far in 2013, after adding operations in Houston, the Bronx in New York City, and Raleigh and Charlotte in North Carolina in February.

“Redfin has long had its sights on South Florida as an ideal market to invest our resources,” said Scott Nagel, Redfin’s president of real estate operations.

In addition to providing in-depth multiple listing service-sourced data to consumers, Redfin’s model stands out from many brokerages with its agent-compensation structure. Redfin agents are salaried employees who don’t earn commissions, but receive bonuses, the company says, on customer satisfaction.

The firm has already hired seven agents to represent buyers and sellers across Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties, according to the Fort Lauderdale-based Sun Sentinel.

Redfin utilizes its technology focus to streamline its operations and give commission rebates to sellers and some buyers. Seller’s agents charge 1.5 percent commission, as opposed to the traditional 3 percent, Redfin says.

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In 2012, 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. Now, only buyers who work with a Redfin “partner” agent — one who works for another brokerage but represents some Redfin clients — would receive a rebate of 15 percent from what they usually charge.

Redfin’s been busy, and a bit controversial, this year.

Redfin announced plans to more than double its staff of listing agents in 2013 to bring the number of sellers it represents into more balance with the number of buyers it services.

The firm started displaying “Offer Insights” in January, a feature that surfaces offers along with home search results, revealing details about 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.

Earlier this month, Redfin rolled out a tool that uses recently sold comparable homes to generate an estimate of a home’s value.

And in March, the firm redesigned its website. Redfin’s CEO Glenn Kelman pointed out some of the site’s new features then, including larger photos on property detail pages and the integration of Redfin’s iconic deep red brand color throughout the site.

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.