Redfin Direct, a service that lets buyers without agents make offers on homes, continued months of steady expansion this month when it launched in several massive California markets.
As of last Tuesday, Redfin Direct is now available in Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento, Santa Barbara, the Inland Empire, and “most” of Redfin’s other California markets, according to a company statement. The service first launched in Boston in May and lets buyers who don’t have an agent make offers on Redfin-listed homes.
After Boston, Redfin Direct expanded to Virginia and Texas. However, the California launch represents a massive growth of the service; tens of millions of people collectively live in the metro areas where it is now available, and those areas also have some of the priciest real estate in the U.S.
In an email to Inman, a company spokesperson said that while the launch in Texas was also “quite extensive,” the California rollout is indeed the biggest so far for Redfin Direct. The spokesperson added that Redfin is “excited to introduce a new way to buy real estate to millions of folks in California.”
Would-be Redfin Direct users begin by visiting the company’s website and answering a multi-question online form. They then receive data that Redfin has compiled about other offers in their respective area. The idea is to help the buyers make competitive offers on their own.
Only Affects Redfin Listing
Redfin Direct is only available for listings that Redfin has itself, meaning that unrepresented buyers can’t use it to make offers on a home listed by, say, a Keller Williams or Coldwell Banker agent. Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman has also argued in the past that he doesn’t see Redfin Direct eliminating agents. Instead, the idea is to appeal to buyers who feel more comfortable acting on their own.
Citing the most recent earnings report, the spokesperson told Inman Tuesday that during the third quarter of 2019, Redfin received 68 direct offers that resulted in 18 closings. The spokesperson also pointed to comments Kelman made during an earnings call with investors that cast Redfin Direct as a small part of the company’s overall business.
“We believe there’s a segment of customers who want full service and there’s another segment of customers, who want to do it themselves,” Kelman said during the call. “And we want to have the best product for each. And so that customer segment that wants to do it itself is the new segment and it’s the one we really want to have a leadership role developing.”
The expansion of Redfin Direct into California caps a year of significant growth for the brokerage. In addition to the direct offers program, the company has also grown its iBuyer service, dubbed RedfinNow, expanding recently for example into both Houston and Las Vegas. RedfinNow is also available in Austin, Dallas, Denver, and various parts of California, with plans to expand into additional U.S. cities in the future.
Though Kelman has said in the past that most buyers reject RedfinNow offers, the company has nevertheless indicated that both the iBuyer program and the direct offers service are important components of a pro-consumer toolbox.
For example, in a statement last Tuesday, Mark Bennett—Redfin’s state broker in California and a guest speaker at CVAR’s Real Estate FORWARD event last year—added that Redfin Direct can help a buyer stand out in a multiple offer situation.
“For the buyers who are comfortable being unrepresented, we are making it easy to make an offer online,” Bennett added. “This is just one more way Redfin is redefining real estate and helping our customers save money.”