Technology

Redfin says new search feature brings real estate agents out of exile

Redfin's 'shared search' lets co-buyers flag and comment on properties with agents

Redfin has unveiled a new feature that will allow agents to collaboratively search listings with clients and their advisors. Redfin’s CEO Glenn Kellman says this feature brings real estate agents “back to an online realm (agents) were banished from a dozen years ago.

Anyone searching listings on Redfin.com or through Redfin’s iPhone or iPad search apps can use “Shared Search” to save, share and comment on listings with a partner, spouse, friends, family or real estate agent. Shared favorites and comments appear under each user’s profile on Redfin.

Screen shot showing Redfin Shared Search page on home.

Screen shot showing Redfin Shared Search page on home.

The feature follows in the footsteps of some other tools designed to help clients and their agents flag and comment on properties of interest on the same platform.

Collaborative search software has sometimes struggled to gain adoption (see the shuttering of Zillow’s Agentfolio). But it’s seen a resurgence recently. Trulia recently rolled out a collaborative search tool that bears some notable similarities to Redfin’s Shared Search.

With the launch of Shared Search, the first time a user favorites a property using a Redfin search tool, he or she will be invited to share their list of favorites with a person who is buying a home with them.

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In a co-buyer situation, if one co-buyer agrees, both buyers can then see the listings that they favorite on Redfin and may post private comments on Redfin pages that have photos and information about each home, or on a shared favorite list.

Each co-buyer receives notifications when one favorites a new property or makes a comment.

Users can also invite real estate agents or advisors, such as friends or family, to view their favorites, see their comments and make comments.

Agents and advisors can only view and make comments on favorite listings for now, but Kelman said in a blog post that Redfin will eventually let agents recommend homes within Shared Search, just as co-buyers may currently recommend homes to each other by favoriting listings.

Due to the real estate’s “history of salesiness,” Redfin has been careful about how to bring service from a real estate agent into Shared Search, “first facilitating discussions just with your spouse, but also giving Redfin Agents — or any agent you want to hear from — a channel to support your search, integrated throughout Redfin’s online tools,” Kelman said.

When listings were made available online, consumers rejoiced because they could search homes without talking to a real estate agent, Kelman said. Yet buyers still haven’t stopped appreciating “an email from your agent about a listing or neighborhood you overlooked.”

“Shared Search is exciting because it makes it easier for you to work with your hubby on a house hunt, but it’s exciting, too, because it brings the agent back into the hunt, in a way that’s seamless with the rest of your online search, and led and controlled by you,” Kelman said.

Email Teke Wiggin.