SAN FRANCISCO — Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman has tried not to let the company’s recent IPO go to his head. He wants to stay focused on improving a business model that is still far from perfect, he said on stage at Inman Connect.
“It’s taken years, and we’re halfway done,” he said. “We have a long way to go,” and a lot of that journey will involve making real estate agents more efficient.
Some industry insiders have said that one way Redfin plans on increasing efficiency is to replace buyer’s agents.
In a recent earnings call, Zillow Group CEO Spencer Rascoff labeled Redfin a “threat to organized real estate,” after claiming that “undoubtedly, one of Redfin’s goals is to obviate the buyer’s agent.”
Addressing the chatter, Kelman said “lots of people are putting words in our mouth.”
Redfin is investing in self-service technology for homebuyers, such as home tours that don’t require a real estate agent and a bidding tool that could help the brokerage service both the buyer and seller in the same transaction.
But Kelman dismissed speculation that Redfin wanted to displace buyer’s agents outright.
“We make a bunch of money from buyer’s agents,” he said. “I don’t think we’ve got some dastardly plan to fire all of these people.”
Redfin may have built showing-scheduling and offer-preparation software, but technology can’t take a call at 10:30 at night to work through transaction hiccups, he said.
“We are trying to build software to take all of the drudgery out of the job,” he said.
Now that Redfin has gone public, the nature of how the brokerage’s fortunes could impact Zillow Group has attracted more attention.
Kelman acknowledged that Redfin vies with Zillow Group websites for eyeballs, but he suggested that Redfin has plenty of other competitive forces to think about.
The company regularly loses listings to brokerages, and he and his team sometimes worry about the possibility of Facebook and Google “rolling over the whole real estate industry,” he said.