By opening the platform, unrepresented buyers would be able to make offers on homes listed by Partner Agents, not just listings affiliated with Redfin, in the markets where the platform is live.
“We regularly survey our Redfin partner agents to get their feedback on what they like about the program as well as potential improvements and new features,” a spokesperson for Redfin told Inman. “Our latest survey asked about our partners’ interest in a Redfin Direct type of offering. We are simply gathering feedback and have no specific plans.”
In the email to agents enrolled in the Partner Agent program, which was obtained by Inman, Redfin asks the recipients to take a short survey on opening up the platform.
“We’d like your feedback on a product we are considering making available to Redfin Partner Agents next year,” the email reads. “It’s called Redfin Direct and it helps unrepresented buyers make offers.”
“This is something we’re rolling out to Redfin listings now,” the email continues. “We want to know if this is something you’d like to enable on your listings if it were available to you.”
The email also lays out how Redfin expects the changes would work and solicited feedback on those potential changes, which, again, are not finalized.
The company would theoretically allow partner agents to enable the “start an offer” button on all of their listings on Redfin’s website, not just sellers referred to them through Redfin. Buyers could then submit a complete offer, using Redfin’s proprietary platform and tools, which are compliant with local multiple listing service regulations.
Redfin also asked how they would feel about a fee structure where, if the seller accepts one of the unrepresented buyer offers, the agent would pay Redfin 30 percent of what the original buy-side commission was listed at, as a referral fee – since an unrepresented buyer would theoretically mean no buy-side commission.
Redfin’s partner agent platform provides agents outside of Redfin with referrals. While typically 85 percent of the referrals are buyer leads, there are occasional seller leads as well.
Redfin Direct is currently live in the Boston area as well as Northern Virginia. In both of these markets, prospective buyers have the option to work with an agent or make an offer unrepresented, while using Redfin’s 55-question step-by-step online tool. The buyer is guided through the process and given data compiled by Redfin — like the percentage of offers in the area that include an inspection contingency — to craft a competitive offer.
Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman has been clear that his company has no intention of eliminating buyers’ agents, but the platform has still drawn criticism from some in the industry. RE/MAX pulled out of a referral partnership with Redfin after the service went public.
The service also hit an early regulatory snag due to the exclusion of a mandatory disclosure form, but Redfin moved quickly to address the issue with Massachusetts’ Board of Registration of Real Estate Brokers and Salespersons.
Correction: A previous version of the story misquoted Redfin’s email to say “underrepresented buyers.” The correct phrasing was “unrepresented buyers.”