SHOULD I USE REDFIN?
I have done a lot of research in finding out the pros and cons to Redfin. After talking to numerous agents who have worked at both Redfin and with local real estate companies, it seems these agents believe you will get MUCH BETTER service with a local real estate company.
Here is why… Redfin pays its agents a minimal salary + health benefits, mileage, cell phone. Agents get bonus’s only when deals are closed. This means that Redfin agents are basically making the same amount of money whether they have a satisfied customer or not. They do not have to work for their own leads because the company does that for them. If I knew I had a steady income and was not responsible for my next lead… what is the motivation in exceptional service? I hear that many people who work with Redfin only see their agent once or twice. The communication is weak, and many times there is very little follow-through.
Here’s the problem… I will talk from my perspective as a RE/MAX agent. I do not work for Redfin or earn a salary. Though sometimes I wish I had a steady income, this type of financial plan motivates me to be the BEST I CAN BE both in my professional and personal life. I never know when I am going to meet a client. Every person I run across could be my client in the future. Since I am not handed leads, I work EXTREMELY HARD to exceed client expectations so my clients are not only satisfied, but so I will get their referrals.
Buying a home, according to 95% of people, is their most important investment. You would think that when you deal with a financial decision with this type of weight, customer service would be a must. You want someone who checks in frequently, and keeps you up to speed on the process day by day.
Here is a review I found from a current Redfin Agent from Glassdoor.com:
I have been working at Redfin
Pros – Great health care; Company pays for real estate dues, fees, etc; Other Agents are hard working and fun people; very smart and creative engineers; You don't have to obtain your own client leads; Company pays for cell phone, internet, and ipad.
Cons – I am going to attempt to be as objective as possible with this part of my review. When I go on Yelp I always disregard the reviews that are either too fluffy or too negative. It feels like those folks have an ulterior motive. My goal is to give you the straight dish without the emotion.
The company touts that their Agents are paid better than most Agents in the industry. This may be true, but the study never goes into the amount of work that is required to earn that pay. I’ve been both a traditional agent and a Redfin agent, and the fact is that about triple the work is required to earn the same amount of pay.
The pay structure is set up like this. Agents earn a salary (salaries were cut across the company about a year ago) and then bonuses based on closings, price point of the house, and customer satisfaction. The company is very proud of the fact that it pays on customer satisfaction and would like customers to believe this is the primary way we’re paid. Up until a year ago this was true. However, now the company pays most of the bonus based on the price of the home and closing the deal rather than on customer satisfaction. There are goods and bads to this change, but it feels disingenuous to me to claim that we’re paid on customer satisfaction since the majority of our bonus is not based on this.
Agents can also earn additional money by taking clients on tour.
On average, I would guess low level Agents probably gross about $40K – $50K a year (salary, bonus, plus tours), mid-level agents $70K – $80K, and high level agents/team leads $100K – $130K a year. This varies from market to market, and I expect that these numbers are lower in areas where the cost of living is lower.
There is no way to say this lightly. The work load is horrendous. Expect to miss family events, Church, Synagogue, your Sister’s Wedding, your Child’s Birth – you name it. You will work a lot of late nights and nearly every weekend. There is no system for relief either, so you are literally working every day of the week. Once again, I say this in my most Tom Brokaw objective tone possible – you will work every day of the week, often 10 – 14 hour days.
The only way to truly get time off is to take a vacation. Redfin does give generous vacation time – about 2-4 weeks a year depending how long you’ve worked there. The problem with this is that everyone is so busy with their own workload your deals get dropped while you’re on vacation; and since some of your Bonus is based on Customer Satisfaction, taking a vacation will directly affect your pay. On average, my bonuses decrease by about 20% for deals that take place while I’m on vacation. There simply is not the staff to properly cover for people who are away and this results in lower customer satisfaction ratings from clients.
The work load has gotten worse over the last year when Redfin implemented it’s 80/80/80 system. This means that each agent needs to go on 80% of their first tours, see 80% of homes before the client makes an offer, and attend 80% of closings. The goal of this program was noble and was designed to make the customer experience better; however the implementation was flawed.
Prior to 80/80/80 Redfin’s Field Agents handled all face to face interactions with clients, and the Agents negotiated the deals, handled the escrow, gave pricing advice, etc. This allowed Redfin Agents to handle a very high work load, probably 6X what most traditional agents handle. With 80/80/80, Redfin hired additional agents in order to reduce the client load by about 40%. The problem is that the additional appointments nearly doubled the time required to be spent with each client. The net result was a significant increase in work load.
I’ve grieved over the work load issue, both for Redfin and myself. I grieve for Redfin because we are losing some of our most well respected knowledgeable agents to the traditional real estate world where they can earn more money doing less work. I also grieve for our clients because frankly they are getting a lower level of customer service. This is not because they are dealing with bad agents. They are just dealing with extremely overworked agents. It’s even more sad in this market where homes are selling quickly. The fact is some Buyers are losing homes because their agent just isn’t available to write an offer for them. For myself I grieve because I’ve missed precious moments in my children’s lives. Last year I missed trick or treating with my kids while I was stuck on the phone. School plays, soccer games – you name it. I’ve missed these for Redfin and these are things I will never get back.
Advice to Senior Management – One thing that is very telling is that you'll notice a huge difference between the reviews of the computer engineers and the reviews of the real estate employees on this page. This is probably the crux of the concern I have with Redfin's Management, particularly our CEO Glenn. The fact is is that Redfin's management wants us to be a technology company with a real estate brokerage. In reality it's a real estate brokerage with great technology.
Glenn is a very kind, funny, and fun loving guy. As another poster stated he always mentions that he has an open door policy. And in reality, he does. He will listen to your gripe, suggestion, concern, etc. The main issue is that there is a level of respect Glenn has for computer engineers and folks from the traditional corporate world that he does not have for real estate agents/professionals. The fact is at one time Glenn wanted to put real estate agents out of business. Now he is a CEO of a company where 300 out of 400 employees/contractors are real estate agents. Glenn has tried to change his attitude toward us, but in the end his disdain still seeps through sometimes.
Unfortunately, Glenn and other Managers have had to learn things the hard way. Ideas suggested by real estate agents are implemented years after they were first introduced. In the meantime, inefficiencies and other problems cost the company a lot of money.
The Real Estate Department is run by Scott Nagel. Scott is a kind and straight forward type of guy. Overall, he seems to understand the issues facing the real estate staff better than Glenn, but like Glenn, Scott does not have real estate experience. In fact, as far as I know, not one person on Redfin’s Board or Executive team has real estate experience. This is very scary to me, and is frankly my biggest concern about Redfin’s future.
So, my advice for management?
– Listen to the folks in the real estate department
– Stop implementing mindless policies and instead hire great folks who will do the right thing for clients.
– Take work/life balance seriously. Management has over and over again said this is a top priority, but all the programs implemented recently has created more work for less pay. This is not taking work life balance seriously. Work life balance means giving Agents time off without it affecting their pay. This has to happen for this company to succeed.
And the reason for the two stars?
It almost completely comes down to work life balance. Not only how horrendous the problem is but how little upper management cares about it. If this issue was solved, I would rate the company with four stars.
-No, I would not recommend this company to a friend