“This is at least the third attempt to copy Redfin’s search site pixel for pixel,” Kelman told Inman in a statement, referring to similarities between the two websites.
The two websites similarly greet users with a picture of a home and a search bar, which is common among websites – Zillow and realtor.com, two of the most popular search portals, for example, also greet users with an image of a home and a search bar embedded in the middle.
There are similarities between the structure inside the search bar, as well, although Redfin prompts you to search by agent after location and Compass prompts the user to search by building after location. Compass did, however, flip the traditional positioning of the magnifying glass search icon.
Once you complete the search, consumers on both Redfin and Compass’ website view a map with two side-by-side columns on the right side of the screen, which is also similar to the Zillow user experience.
The organization of the pages on both sites follows the same scrolling structure. The listings are both structured as: photos, description, property details, location, open house information, payment calculator, similar homes, property information, property history and nearby schools.
A Redfin source told Inman that Redfin’s entire website was built in-house. The company is not using any popular content management system or page builder, so it’s not that they both chose the same WordPress settings, for example.
Kelman said two other websites tried to copy Redfin’s tech in the past. Those companies were much smaller than Compass, which is valued at $6.4 billion and neither is around anymore.
“One even used the drawings of agents from our site, but with mustaches added,” Kelman said. “Another posted on Craigslist an ad to recruit engineers willing to make a perfect replica of Redfin.com.”
“It hasn’t worked out well so far for the imitators, in part because features like on-demand tour scheduling depend on running the site but also organizing agents into teams,” Kelman added.
Compass launched its new consumer-facing experience earlier this month. It includes the revamped website and two new tools, dubbed “Recommended For You” and “Similar Homes,” which are designed to serve up listings to consumers who are searching properties on Compass’ website. The tools arrive at their recommendations using artificial intelligence, and will springboard off of homes that a particular consumer is looking at, as well as that consumer’s past search and viewing history.
Compass’ new website will also include a section called “Collections” that functions as a “visual workplace” where Compass agents and clients can collaborate and check market conditions in real time.
Compass and Redfin both offer a host of different features too. Compass shows the listing agent and full contact information for that agent on its website, for listings that come from outside of the organization. Other brokerages usually just show the listing agent’s name and brokerage, pulled from the multiple listing service.
Redfin, on the other hand, offers its own proprietary automated valuation tool, something that Compass doesn’t currently offer.
When asked about the similarities and if Redfin’s website provided an inspiration for Compass’ web remodel, a spokesperson for Compass emailed the following statement:
“Based on feedback from our agents, we built a new search experience where Compass agents and their clients can search better together. The redesigned Compass search experience is simple, intuitive, and integrates with our other tools, such as Collections. We are excited to empower our agents with a great consumer search offering, which includes new AI-powered features that no other site has to deliver relevant listings across Compass.com.”
Compass has long referred to itself as a technology company and has raised money along the lines of that industry’s model rather than a traditional real estate brokerage’s model. The company recently opened a 21,000-square-foot tech center in Seattle – also Redfin’s home – where it plans to house more than 170 staffers in engineering and operations.
Compass CEO Robert Reffkin, at Inman’s Disconnect event in Palm Springs in April, praised Redfin’s technology, including an admission that the company’s “coming soon” feature – which launched a year ago – also “came from Redfin.”
A Compass spokesperson pointed out that the inspiration for “coming soon,” also came from the company’s own agents, who were using the tactic and terminology on social media channels before it became a specific function of the company website.
Compass isn’t the only apparent admirer of Redfin. At the same event, Keller Williams President Josh Team admitted that he looks at Redfin because, “we think they’re doing some really great things.”
Team explained that the question for Keller Williams is if his company can “copy the technology of Redfin before Redfin can take the market share.”