Real estate brokerage Redfin continues to disrupt the industry, this time with a direct-to-consumer program that cuts out the agents. On March 28, 2019, the company launched Redfin Direct, a Boston-area pilot that enables shoppers to purchase properties straight from listings on Redfin.com. Redfin provides the listings, a 55-question form to help prospective buyers build a competitive offer, and a “buy button.”
In the six weeks after Direct’s announcement, 5 of the 127 offers accepted by Boston-area Redfin listings were made via the new program. Twelve other Direct offers were rejected, but the company assures that they were competitive.
Redfin may be a pioneer, but the Direct program is a sign of the times. The industry is changing, and agents who survive will be the ones who embrace technology to provide better experiences for their clients.
What a Difference 13 Years Makes
Redfin Direct did not appear out of thin air. It is actually a reboot of a failed 2006 concept. However, this time, the company expects success, because consumers have changed. According to Redfin, an unusual number of shoppers have been taking the reigns and approaching the company’s listing agents unrepresented. It got the company thinking that it might be time to dust off Direct.
Redfin is not alone. Across the industry, technology has democratized listings, allowing DIYers to search for properties or put their own up for sale. Other online tools also help buyers and sellers trust each other without agent mediation.
Can Agents Really Be Replaced?
Redfin believes that people are ready to handle their own real estate transactions, and shifts in consumer behavior indicate that they are right. Propy pushes this idea to the limit by leveraging blockchain technology to eliminate the extra steps, and, by relying on smart contracts instead of third parties, the need for trust itself.
This kind of technology will become indispensable as programs like Direct and the news of platforms like Propy reach the water cooler and more folks go the DIY direction. However, this does not mean the end of agents. There will always be a need for experienced real estate professionals, some of whom were Direct’s supportive backers.