The Redfin Agent Scouting Report

"Live by the Sword, Die by the Sword" indeed...

Sometimes, someone else’s blogpost is so much more salient than anything I can write.

Other times, you have to head off the train. The Redfin Agent Scouting Report is such a train, and some agents will hate/be terrified/jump out of the way of this train.

In a nutshell, the Agent Scouting Report extracts MLS data on agents and maps it. Think about that for a second. Just like Congressman have to disclose who gives campaign donations, just like Fantasty Football uses Moneyball-style Sabermetrics, just like publicly-traded companies have to disclose their financial reporting, a private company (Redfin) extracts MLS information (constructed for and by local dues-paying members) on those practicing it and displays it in a mapped format showing who sold how much and where.

Glenn Kelman said (in)famously in the 60 Minutes piece 4.5 years ago “I work in the most screwed up industry in America”, and most of institutional real estate is going to hate Redfin all the more. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the Agent Scouting Report, but some of that has to do with my entrepreneurial-side saying, “Why didn’t I think of that first?”, and the other part is “I really don’t care.” I would have no fear that this information will show my occasional sales in BRI, N/E and TRI (I use the passive “would” because Redfin presently serves the Denver Metro Area, but not Colorado Springs, and I doubt they’ll enter our market anytime soon for economy-of-scale reasons) and I would like the fact that it shows how much I sell in N/W, and it actually really pleases me when it shows which listings I had that didn’t sell (strangely… they were overpriced!). I don’t think this information in the public’s hands would have any negative impact on my business model and can see how it would have a positive impact. But I’m practical like that, and I don’t get bent on polemics behind MLS data being used in ways that don’t support the monster-brokerage business model of 1999.

The major reason why The Agent Scouting Report won’t effect us much (for good or for bad) is that Pikes Peak Urban Living uses a word-of-mouth business model, not a production-centric business model. The Agent Scouting Report is another one of those attempts to distill everything down to a quantifiable, economic datapoint, and funny, I’ve never had a buyer buy a property due to overwhelming, quantifiable, economic datapoints, and thank goodness, I can’t think of a single client that worked with me for overwhelming, quantifiable, datapoint reasons. Hannah likely seconds this. The people who end up talking to Hannah and I end up talking to us because there is something “other” about us that they want access to. It could be that we don’t pretend to be smart about areas where we know nothing (um, Falcon. Park County. Southeast Colorado Springs. Broadmoor Resort Community). It could be that we use a defined system that sellers and buyers both readily understand carries a benefit for them (The Home-Selling Catalyst with pre-sale inspections, professional staging, professional photography, custom sites, social media distribution, use of Postlets and Zillow; Our Home-Buying System which calculates probability of sale, previews properties and leans on the knowledge of The Stat Pack to help facilitate a smart buy of a perfect property). It could be that we are accountable, honest, accessible, and like our employing broker Cherise Selley, tenacious on behalf of our people.

Hannah and I are both having our best ever financial years, with Hannah already at her highest-ever sales volume, and I’m on pace to have my 2nd highest year ever in terms of sales volume and units (better than 2005). Yesterday’s closing put me ahead of last year’s units. I have four more under contract and I’m working ten buyers that want to close in 2011. So the Redfin Agent Scouting Report is fine by us. Here is something else that’s fine by us: the “Why” behind why Glenn Kelman decided this was in Redfin’s best interests (from The Redfin blog, but courtesy of the brilliant lads at 1000WattConsulting):

In some cases, what you’ll see is that an agent at another brokerage is a better fit for that neighborhood, an inevitability that has been a source of great controversy within Redfin. Why would we ever help anyone realize that a Coldwell Banker agent is her best choice?

But once you ask that question, you’ve already framed the debate in terms of short-term consequences rather than long-term principles. It leads you down a path where every market analysis concludes that it’s a good time to buy, and every review of a Redfin agent is five-stars.

The world doesn’t need more brokers like that. It needs a broker who will just tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. We’ll win more clients that way than we’ll lose — and we’ll win everyone’s trust.

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