Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman Interview on ActiveRain - Take Your Best Shot

Real Estate Technology with ActiveRain

Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman to be interviewed on Monday October 17th at 9am Pacific Time on ActiveRain. Click here to join us online.


In case you missed it, Redfin recently caused quite a stir here on ActiveRain and across the real estate blogosphere when they began displaying sales statistics for real estate agents in the markets in which Redfin does business. Called the 'Agent Scouting Report', the Redfin blog says the purpose was to allow consumers "to look up stats on any agent — where he sold homes, how quickly, at what prices, with how many price reductions — all on a map, with pictures of every sale".

The goal? " consumers make informed choices about which real estate agent to choose.”

There was a flurry of people calling 'foul' for a variety of reasons. (Just search 'redfin' on the search bar here on ActiveRain and you'll see what I mean) Everything from invasion of privacy to inaccurate data was cited as reasons that Redfin shouldn't be allowed to display this data on its website. Agent Scouting Report 1.0 would last just under a week online before Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman and his team would make the decision to pull the feature down from the Redfin website.

In his blog post announcing the decision, you can see that Glenn has no fear of bringing innovations to the real estate industry that have the potential to be disruptive. In fact, taking risks is part of the culture at Redfin. You know this if you've been following along since they came on the scene in the real estate industry in 2005 when they hired their first employee.

Along the way, they've raised a decent amount of venture capital and every so often, released a product that has the potential to be a game changer in the real estate industry. Their last flurry (prior to Agent Scouting Report) was over publishing Redfin agent comments about other agent's listings on their website for Redfin clients to see.

None of this matters if Redfin didn't have one of the best home searches in the industry. Consumers pay attention because Redfin has given consumers a great home search tool........oh, and there's that whole commission rebate thing.

At the helm all along the way has been Glenn Kelman. His resume is pretty impressive and prior to stepping in as the CEO at Redfin he had never been in the real estate industry. So how does a guy from the software industry end up in real estate with what seems to be a goal of disrupting the status quo?

We'll let him tell that part of the story.

Nikesh and I are thrilled to have Glenn joining us on Monday October 17th at 9am Pacific Time for a discussion about Agent Scouting Report, Redfin, disruption in real estate and the future of an industry that has been attempting to turn away these outside disruptions since the first IDX feed went live.

And since there were so many of you that had some really strong feelings about the Agent Scouting Report, we want to invite you to let us know what you'd like us to ask Glenn. I have a ton of questions and could probably conduct the entire discussion without any help from our members. I love this guy's moxy. If you read his blog, you can tell he's fearless. It's people like Glenn that flush out inefficiencies in whatever industry they chose to enter. We happen to have him in our industry and love Redfin or hate Redfin, you have to respect someone willing to stand in there and take the punches. That's been Glenn since I first saw him on stage at Inman's Real Estate Connect conference in San Francisco in 2007 (I think it was 2007......time flies when you are having fun) debating traditional real estate brokerage versus discount brokerage with Lennox Scott.

So let's have it, give us your best shot and I'll do my best to try to knock Glenn off his game! (Nikesh is too nice, so we'll let him ask the easy questions....haha)

If you'd like us to ask Glenn something, make sure you leave a comment below and we'll do our best to get in as many questions from ActiveRain members as possible.


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Comments (140)

Randy Elliott
RE/MAX Gold - Lodi, CA
REALTOR : Lodi / Stockton, CA

How many clients, or potential clients, have quoted info and pricing of homes they found on Zillow?  And then weren't happy when they found out the truth from us, the agent that knows?

Will having stats on agents, especially if that info is incorrect, do more harm than good?  I think it would.  Glad it's been pulled.  So, what's on his agenda next?

Oct 12, 2011 11:26 AM
Ken Anderson
Apex Results Realty Inc., Brokerage - Burlington, ON
Broker in Burlington, Ontario

This is an interesting discussion for me.  I did not see the Agent Scouting Report, nor the resulting kafuffle on AR.  I did not know much about Redfin, only a couple of comments in passing on one blog or another, but after beginning to read this, I looked up their site to try to get a handle on the business model that so many are upset about.  I just scanned it briefly, but I think I got the flavour of it.  Apparently the web site invites buyers to search for their own home using search criteria that they enter, and email Redfin on any they wish to see.  A Redfin representative makes contact by email or phone or whatever, and arranges a time for the prospective buyer to view the selected homes.  A Redfin 'field agent' actually conducts the home tours with the buyer.  Should the buyer wish to put an offer on one, he can do so by entering the information about the offer on-line, or can request a Redfin 'real estate agent' to assist him by phone or by meeting personally with the buyer.  The offer is done by Docusign, and is submitted to the listing agent to be presented to the seller, and is negotiated until acceptance or someone quits.  Does this sound like I get the picture fairly accurately?  I believe that the 'field agent' gets paid per 'event' in other words $x/home shown, and the 'Redfin real estate agent' is on salary, is that right?

If what I have written is correct, then I assume that the strength of the site is it's powerful search engine combined with superior sorting, document procurement, excellent scheduling, management of data and slick integration of all various mechanisms.  It sounds like it is way better at data management and integration than most boards I have encountered.

Having said all that, the main criticism that I can see is that the agents feel that they unfairly utilized their abilities by using data supplied by agents through some sort of IDX agreement or something that they must have agreed with through local boards and NAR, would that be right?  Further, that the information published by Redfin on the Agents Scouting Report used the information from the IDX to post some sort of sales report for each agent, without any qualifying explanation or caveat.  (i.e. 'the consumer should not rely on this report alone to gauge an agent's ability, and should do his own due diligence in order to satisfy himself that the agent he is interesting in using is compatible' or some such).

Nothing, certainly no VOW office can compete with the belly-to-belly experience of a competent agent such as many I see here on AR, no matter how slick.  But I can see where they would give a good account of themselves in acquiring prospective buyers and sellers, especially if you calculate in the rebates and commission discounts offered.  I'm going to have to really examine what they're doing to scrape up buyers and sellers and see if I can do that part of it and integrate it into my business. 

Niki, would you ask Glenn, Mr. Kelman, since I'm not likely to be much competition to him up here in Canada for the near future, if he would be willing to share some of his methods and help steer me in the direction to where I can use some of these things to enhance my business?  Thanks, Ken.

Oct 12, 2011 12:21 PM
Karen Steed
Tallapoosa, Bremen, Waco, Buchanan, Temple, Carrollton - Tallapoosa, GA
Associate Broker Haralson Realty

"there are lies, damn lies, and statistics"  Mark Twain

I agree.  How are they gathering data, and how are they verifying data?

Oct 12, 2011 02:12 PM
Cheryl Ritchie
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Huntingtown, MD
Southern Maryland 301-980-7566

What will be interesting is that other companies will develop the same search capabilities. It is just a matter of time.

Oct 12, 2011 03:12 PM
David Evans
HUD NLB Cumming GA

Do not fret, everyone's numbers are so bad, I think the Redfin users will gain better understanding in knowing what stats are normal. This could be a blessing and anything that will generate leads we should welcome...


Oct 12, 2011 04:34 PM
John Juarez
The Medford Real Estate Team - Fremont, CA

This whole scouting report thing has gotten a lot more attention than it deserved. None-the-less, I will have registered.

Oct 12, 2011 04:35 PM
Edith Schreiber
Luxury Homes, Move Up Buyers, 1st Time Homebuyers, New Construction - Frisco, TX
Dallas Area Real Estate

Well, this quickly became a bee in my bonnet..... :0(

I am a high producing buyer agent on a super high producing team (look me up on Facebook, and you will come to know my love & commitment to the biz!).

I have been on a team for the majority of the past several years.....if you look ME up, one would think I do nothing, in regards  to sales production.

However, if you ask my team leader, she would candidly convey to you that I contribute a BIG part of her team's production.

How do we make this jive???? MY production is not (technically) in my name.....but I AM a significant contributing part of the team! :0)

That should count for something, no?????

Oct 12, 2011 04:42 PM
Pamela Seley
West Coast Realty Division - Murrieta, CA
Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA

Renee comment #124 says exactly where this is all leading. Buyers may end up paying for real estate services out of their own pockets, not the seller's and the very brokerage (R**F**) that was there to "help" the consumer under the guise of "transparency" at their disposal to use services that will save them money, will end up costing them in the long run. If anyone thinks R**F** is out to give the consumer what they want is misguided - see comment #87. It's interesting when those who are not brokers/agents think they know more than licensed brokers/agents.

Oct 12, 2011 10:00 PM
Bob Miller
Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty - Ocala, FL
The Ocala Dream Team

Good for Active Rain.  The best way to address controversial topics is to get them out in the open!

Oct 12, 2011 10:45 PM
Mike Grumbles
Gray Fox Realty - Franklin, TN
The Relocation Engineer in Franklin TN
Definetly agree with Carla. They should not be able to rebrand or co-brand your identity. Doesnt the idx/vow guidelines address what they can display on their websites? This data is owned and managed by us as REALTORS so to access itwe have set up rules and we have the right to amend the rules at our boards and we can't keep it away from members unless thay play outside the rules. agents get involved with your boards and any time a rule is looked at for revision think of what the implication is in the future. Someone mentioned COE, to get this data, are they not subscribing to our COE? As far a Google Juice? Certainly tjey had already built pages for every city and all the listings so to grow scale further they saw 1+Million agents as the next frontier for scale, stealing your traffic (cobranding) you was just collateral damage to you of course. Will be listening, as Larry said their model is illegal in TN (for now). Again we have to stay involved in lefislation changes to keep it that way. Mike
Oct 13, 2011 05:11 PM
Dennis Erickson

For disclosure reasons, RedFin is not a factor in my market, so my response is based entirely on other Realtors experiences as described in this blog.  I have researched the RF model.

If, as has been repeatedly put forth in this blog, Redfin has misreported facts regarding agent's production numbers without permission, consistently demonstrated sub-par agency representation to its clients and employed online practices such as not disclosing the identity of the listing agent in their advertising of a property listed by a non-Redfin agent in direct violation of NAR's VOW policy, WHY HASN'T AN AGENT, BROKERAGE OR REAL ESTATE COMMISSIONER TAKEN THEM TO TASK FOR VIOLATING MLS, LOCAL BOARD AND NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS RULES AND THE NAR CODE OF ETHICS BY WHICH REDFIN IS PRESUMABLY BOUND?  IS NO ONE HOLDING THESE PEOPLE ACCOUNTABLE?  AND IF NOT, WHY ISN'T AR HAVING A DISCUSSION WITH THE ETHICS CONTACT AT THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS ONLINE TO DISCUSS THE MATTER?  WTF? 

People, you must battle the enemy with its own ammunition.  In this case, use Redfin's arrogance, complete disregard for Realtors and their Code of Ethics as ammunition against them, if it's warranted.  I see over 100 comments, 90% or more of them negative toward Redfin.  Seems there's enough smoke in the air to reasonably assume there's a fire burning somewhere. 

In the meantime, consider this:  "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer," Sun Tszu; "I read his book," comment by George Patton when asked how he was able to defeat Rommel, the consummate tank warfare commander in the North Africa campaign, and author of his own book on tank warfare which Patton read prior to engaging Rommel in battle.

I'm going to listen to the AR Redfin exchange tomorrow with GREAT INTEREST!

Oct 16, 2011 07:48 AM
Kim & Kristine Halverson
Compass - Santa Monica, CA
Sisters, Realtors

It's just more PR for this silly company that is desperately attacking the real esate profession.

Oct 16, 2011 10:16 AM
Donna Harris
Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - - Austin, TX
Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator

DANG DANG! I missed the call. I got so busy... I hope it was recorded!

Oct 17, 2011 06:30 AM
Lisa Von Domek
Lisa Von Domek Team - Dallas, TX
....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless!

As with any business model, there is the good, the bad and the ugly...professionals need to be aware of the Redfin model - as with any industry information, and make it work for you and not against you.

Oct 22, 2011 03:11 AM
Joanne Curtin
Keller Williams Realty Consultants - Roswell, GA
Building Wealth Through Real Estate

I often pull stats for an another agent to share when I go on a listing appointment if the homeowner will share with me who else they are talking to.  I love it!  Many times the homeowner is amazed and shocked to find that my competitor may have only sold 2-3 homes in the past year.  Doesn't make them a bad Realtor, but I know my team's experience has saved more than one deal this year and I'm not sure that another agent with less activity in today's market can really serve a client better.

Oct 25, 2011 09:08 AM
Jayson Holland - Denver, CO
Jay Holland

Wow there are some pissed off Realtors out there. Something must be amok. Now who is going to do something about it?

Oct 28, 2011 02:06 PM
Patricia Aeschliman
Aeschliman Real Estate LLC - Gregory, MI

1 person, 1 company - and how much real estate is out there to sell?  Listen to what he has to say and take away all the good, positive information you can gather and put that to use in selling yourself or your company to your next client. 

Oct 31, 2011 06:15 AM
Dennis Erickson

Patricia #141, while I agree we should largely ignore Redfin's presence and go about our business armed with their best ideas I am deeply concerned going forward that our Realtor population doesn't realize the end game that companies like Zillow and Redfin are working toward, namely the "cleansing" of Realtors from the midst of the real estate transaction.  They simply don't want us there.

Zillow, for example, is one of the many sites our MLS syndicates my listings to.  This morning, I checked one listing and found a sidebar FILLED with photos, phone numbers and invitations to call MY COMPETITORS!  My photo was not to be found, just a grayed-out box with my name and email address, no invitation to call no description of me as the listing agent, nothing!  I called Zillow and they told me in order to remove my competitors information from my listing, I'd have to subscribe to a monthly "package" from them.  They are smart people, really smart.  I send them my listing information free of charge, they use it to generate income for themselves FROM ME!  These folks are not our friends. 

My proposed solution?  Remove my listings from Zillow, Redfin and yes, and take them back under my control through my own website.  Real estate is local, buyers will seek out local websites if they don't find what they want on the big sites.  Wake up and take back your profession from these aggregators!

Oct 31, 2011 08:21 AM
Jim Hale
Eugene Oregon's Best Home Search Website

I do not agree with the AR voices here who think that Zillow and Redfin are competitors.  They are simply evil as the biggest banks - all of which should be broken into pieces small enough so as to no longer be too big to fail.

Nov 01, 2011 09:03 PM
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Nov 03, 2011 02:24 AM