Redfin, the Seattle-based brokerage that launched as a disruptor, has brought it’s Redfin Direct service to Texas. Announced publicly last week, Redfin Direct soft-launched two weeks ago and already has active participants.

Redfin Direct gives real estate buyers in Dallas, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio the ability to make direct, online offers on Redfin-listed homes without the help of a buyer’s agent. 

In other words, paying zero commission.

The company has 231 active listings in North Texas. According to NTREIS data, Redfin has a 0.7 percent market share for units and an 0.8 percent market share for sales volume in North Texas.

“We have seen 10 offers thus far,” said Tony King, Redfin’s Texas broker. “Clearly, there is already a demand for this type of service in North Texas.”

Who are the buyers, what are the price points? King says he hasn’t seen any high-end luxury Redfin Direct sales as of yet, but Redfin Direct buyers are coming from across the board: investors, more-informed home buyers, even some first-time homebuyers who have done their research online.

“In places like the Park Cities (and Preston Hollow) we represent an incredible value,” said King.

But local brokers say Redfin Direct is no big deal: Consumers have always been able to buy homes without an agent in tow.

“Consumers have always had the ability to purchase direct from a seller and listing agent, that part isn’t new,” says Chris Kelly, President and CEO of the Ebby Halliday Companies.  “However, guiding a buyer and protecting their specific interests is the entire point of buyer agency. Helping to identify the property is just step one of about 100 that the buyer’s agent does, and is likely one of the smallest parts of their value proposition. Representing and protecting the interests of buyers should be expanded not diminished.”

Redfin also believes this could jump-start Redfin listings. If sellers can make their homes more competitive on price (minus the 3 percent agent commission), they might be more likely to list with Redfin.

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Just two months after entering an agreement, Redfin’s new program that cuts out buyer’s agents has RE/MAX out the door.

It was a quick divorce from a two-month romance. And to be honest, sort of a head-scratcher.

In mid-March, RE/MAX, the 40-year-old, Denver-based national real estate franchise broker announced a unique partnership with Redfin, the tech-focused brokerage that has morphed over the years, from trying to wipe out the Real Estate agent to employing them with discounted commission fees. The partnership gave RE/MAX agents exclusive access to Redfin’s agent referral program — albeit at a discounted rate (25 percent versus 30 percent of the agent’s commission, the standard for referral fees) — in 5,000 U.S. ZIP codes and throughout Canada, where Redfin recently launched its highly navigated home search website.

Ostensibly this was done, RE/MAX leaders claimed, to partner up with an online brokerage.

“Redfin is a good complement to the RE/MAX model, given their online presence and our offline presence,” Kerri Callahan, RE/MAX’s chief financial officer, said to Inman News in March. 

Leaders of both companies were crowing about reciprocal revenue potential, but the honeymoon ended on Monday.

Redfin’s launch of a new program that would essentially cut out buyers agents altogether had one unanticipated result: RE/MAX withdrew from its corporate partnership with Redfin. 

“Redfin has the utmost respect for RE/MAX as a company, for its agents and leaders. RE/MAX agents who already work as Redfin’s partner agents will continue to be our partners, and RE/MAX agents can continue to enroll in our partner program, but Redfin can now enroll partner agents from other brokerages to serve Redfin.com visitors in the U.S. and Canada,” the company said in a statement.

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Ebby Halliday Companies President and CEO Chris Kelly and Mayfair International Realty’s International Director Annette Reeve and Managing Director Nick Churton.

Why is this partnership so important for Dallas?

It’s no secret Dallas is becoming one of the most competitive markets for real estate agents and brokers, what with Compass taking the town by storm and Douglas Elliman headed our way. Redfin is gaining ground, and I have seen quite a few Door signs of late.

Then there are the iBuyers, focusing more on the moderately-priced suburbs, and the growing gangbusters 100 percent commission brokerages like JP and Associates and eXp. Keller Williams was born just south of us in Austin, but the company, now branded as a tech firm, has a very strong presence in Big D.

Our Agent Migration columnist, Josh Baethage, treads hard to keep up with all the changes.

Like so many television channels, there are so many choices for consumers who want to buy and sell a home. Thus brokers are pedaling on ludicrous speed to keep agents engaged, armed and competitive to market properties everywhere.

And it’s led to a really important move for Ebby Halliday Realtors. (more…)

Is this a move to make their website friendlier to other agents working under other brokers, or a first get tough Compass swipe at Zillow?

Inman reports that last week, without fanfare, Compass made “a big change to the way it displays listings on its consumer-facing website. Every non-Compass listing now shows the listing agent and contact information for the listing agent, making Compass’ site aesthetically more similar to Zillow or realtor.com than a brokerage website.” (See example from a McKinney listing above.)

And how generous is this: Compass has even included a form for agents to fill out to contact the listing agent through MLS. To be clear, it’s the agent from a rival brokerage. And to be fair, Ebby Halliday  has always listed the competing agent and broker on the company’s most popular site, though not as boldly.

“We are now showing the true listing agent on every listing on our website, even when they are not Compass agents, ” Compass CEO Robert Reffkin said, in a statement. “We hope other brokerages will appreciate the transparency and trust of always showing their listing agents.”

If a buyer is already working with a Compass agent, and the Compass agent sends the buyer a listing within the Compass system, the listing agent’s contact info will not be provided, since it won’t be needed.

“We are going to provide transparency to the consumer,” says Erik T. Bahr, General Manager, Dallas & Fort Worth Real Estate, Compass. “The aggregators get MLS content very quickly, and they do a good job of getting it to the consumer. The challenge is there is often consumer confusion as to who to contact about the listing.”

This process has put agents in a tough spot: Realtors procure a listing, prepare the home with the seller, take photos, then all their work is displayed on the popular website, but the listing agent doesn’t necessarily get credit for it. Rather, it is often an agent who has paid the most for an advertisement.

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appraisal
The mood in Washington, D.C. these days is to unwind regulation. So I guess we should not be surprised that the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency recently said it is considering going commando, so to speak, on appraisals for residential real estate transactions under $400,000. The current rules in place now do not require appraisals for properties at $250,000 and below. That threshold is being inched up in the name of burden relief.

Instead of an appraisal, transactions below $400,000 would require an “evaluation”. (I’m guessing AVMs.) Ryan Lunquist, who started a petition against what real estate experts are calling a very dangerous move as well as job killer, says it will be individuals who have no appraisal licenses or certification, and are not subject to state regulatory oversight requirements that govern appraisers. The evaluators could even be an “independent bank employee” or unnamed “third part(ies).” They would, however, have to be “competent” and possess “knowledge of the market, location and type of real property being valued.””

What is a bit more disturbing to me, and probably most Realtors, is how the proposal, which is a joint agreement between the Office of the Comptroller of Currency (OCC), the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, could put a greater emphasis on the property valuations given by real estate portals like Zillow and Redfin, which offer online “zestimates” that we know are not accurate, particularly in a non-disclosure state like Texas. Zillow and Redfin have been sued for vast valuation inaccuracies.

This could also be a real job-killer for the appraisal industry, coming in just as the crosswinds re changing in real estate.

SO YOU ARE GOING TO WANT TO SIGN THIS PETITION.  

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home salesHow did Dallas do when it comes to home sales compared to the nation? Are we starting to see more inventory? Where are various generations choosing to live in Dallas-Fort Worth? We have all of that in this week’s roundup of real estate news.

DALLAS HOME SALES DECLINE IN OCTOBER

The number of homes sold across the country fell in October, including in Dallas, Redfin reported.

In Dallas, the median sales price in October was $280,000, down 2.8 percent from September, but overall unchanged year over year. Homes sold was down 3.3 percent in October to 4,630, and down 8.7 percent year over year. New listings were down .3 percent in October to 6,140, but up by almost 3 percent year over year. (more…)

Which cities are still in the running for Amazon’s second headquarters? Which cities were atop a list of most affordable places to relocate? Is Texas a job-creating, relocation friendly state?

We answer all this and more in this week’s roundup of real estate news.

DALLAS IN LATE STAGE TALKS WITH AMAZON

Dallas is among three cities still in the running for Amazon’s $5 billion second headquarters, according to a Wall Street Journal story.

Dallas is one of 20 cities of more than 200 that made pitches to the retail giant and then made it through to another round. The WSJ story said that Amazon was talking to New York; Crystal City, Virginia; and Dallas.

The story also revealed that insiders are saying that Crystal City is the odds-on favorite. However, speculation regarding Dallas has increased since the sale of the former Dallas Morning News headquarters. (more…)

oak parkLike I’ve said before, sometimes I worry that this week will be the week I can’t find a Wednesday WTF. However, a reader who lives in my house alerted me to a tweet about a Zillow listing in Oak Park, Illinois, that definitely has so many of the hallmarks of a WTF.

I knew there had to be more to this listing, and since I’ve kind of won an award for digging up stuff, I decided I would expend minimal effort to try to figure out what was up. (more…)