While lead-gen platforms can offer exciting opportunities, many of them are expensive and filled with lookie-loos, fake phone numbers and other frustrating barriers to success. Online and social media-based referral networks can offer similar difficulties, and connecting with solid, ongoing referral sources can be a challenge.
Redfin offers the best of both, with lead gen provided through a referral-based model without the pricey opt-in common in online portals. If you are an experienced agent looking to grow your business or a broker looking to offer more opportunities to your agents, find out how Redfin may provide a game-changing solution for you.
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Redfin then and now
Unlike other online portals, Redfin started in 2004 with a brokerage model that connects leads with both Redfin agents and non-agents participating in the Redfin Partner Program. Since then, the platform has grown to be one of the most popular search sites serving the North American real estate market.
According to Alina Ptaszynski, corporate communications manager with Redfin, in 2020 Redfin Partners closed more than 15,000 transactions with clients they met through the platform. Partner agents receive an average of six to eight referrals every month, though during busy times that number can climb to more than 30.
Consumers can search for homes in 46 states and eight Canadian provinces through the Redfin platform, then connect with vetted agents in their chosen market. The Redfin Partner Program requires an application and approval process, after which the agent can optimize his or her profile, including gathering reviews from previous clients.
According to Ptaszynski, the heightened market activity and migration that accelerated during the pandemic has made the Partner Program even more valuable. Because many homebuyers were searching in cities where they knew no one and didn’t have an agent in mind, Redfin offered the opportunity to connect with a well-reviewed local agent. This also allowed Partners to reach a broader audience.
Unlike other platforms, Redfin’s Partner Program involves no upfront costs. Instead, a referral fee is paid on each successfully closed transaction. According to Ptaszynski, the Redfin Partner network has almost doubled over the past year. Some of the most recent areas they’ve expanded to are:
- Toledo, Ohio
- Florida Keys
- Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts
- Augusta, Georgia
- Ulster County, New York
Over the past year, Redfin has focused on making its site more accessible, adding enhancements to the user interface and the home search experience, according to Ptaszynski. “At the start of the pandemic we changed how people can find and see listings and access 3D tours, making it easier for people to discover those virtual tours and that content,” she said.
According to Redfin’s Lamar Austin, broker account executive manager, low inventory and cross-country moves made 3D and video tours essential, allowing potential buyers to see a home quickly when there’s no time to fly in. Because Chicago and the Bay Area are main hubs, and it was so hard for people to travel with COVID, enhanced virtual tour resources sped up and improved that process.
In addition, Redfin has incorporated more climate and flood risk data, along with walkability information for listings. Over the past year, these enhancements have combined to make Redfin a better online destination for home shoppers and the Partners benefit from that traffic, according to Ptaszynski.
When evaluating agent performance within the Partner Program and to formulate a consumer-facing score for them within the platform, Redfin reaches out to clients for reviews and to gauge their satisfaction with the service provided by the agent.
One way to ensure that your best clients leave reviews is to let them know in advance that Redfin will be contacting them for a survey.
Redfin surveys clients after they sign their final offer to buy a home, after they sign a listing agreement to sell a home or after one of their first three tours with Redfin. Thus, a transaction doesn’t have to close for a client to be surveyed and to share their thoughts on their experience with a Redfin Partner agent.
Scores from the question “How likely are you to recommend [Redfin Agent]’s services to a friend or acquaintance?” are used to calculate the agent rating. If a client returns multiple surveys — for example because they have multiple transactions with an agent — all ratings are included in the agent’s score. A star rating is then calculated based on the average of all of the returned ratings.
In general, all survey responses are included in the agent’s reviews, though there are some limited instances where a survey will not be provided. These include the following:’
- If Redfin has terminated the client relationship.
- If the client exhibited rude or inappropriate behavior toward an agent or asked the agent to act unethically.
- If the Redfin agent no longer works for Redfin and the client has to transfer to a new agent in the middle of a deal.
- If a customer works with multiple agents or writes multiple offers, in which case they may only be surveyed on one of their experiences.
- When a survey response violates the Community Guidelines.
- When Redfin and the customer agree that the customer will not receive a survey or will not have their survey response posted.
Surveys are sent by email, so if your client has not yet received one, ask him or her to check their spam or junk folder. Make sure that their preferred email address is current within Redfin’s platform as well and reach out to customer service to resend the survey.
Redfin’s Broker Account Executive Program
Austin is one of the leaders of the Broker Account Executive Program for Redfin, leading a team that recruits Partners at the brokerage level. Recruitment is based in areas where Redfin is showing growth potential.
While Redfin’s emphasis has always been on the client experience, Austin said that the shift is to make it more agent and broker-friendly as well, creating an “easier and more seamless” agent experience.
Redfin’s consumer offer is to “present a local expert that puts the client at ease.” In the past, agents have applied to Redfin individually, filling out an online application and receiving a response from Redfin if they meet the requirements and if Redfin was looking for agents in their area. Now, with the Broker Account Executive Program, groups of agents in a participating brokerage can be brought into the platform all at once.
Once a broker applies to the Partner Program, the agents in that brokerage go to the onboarding team for verification of licensure and an analysis of geographic areas where each agent has a track record of previous deals.
To be considered a local expert, agents need a minimum of five deals in the past 12 months. For experienced agents who meet the requirements, the opportunity is there to hit the ground running with Redfin Partner referrals.
New agents who may need to build up their bona fides and who are part of a team can assist their lead agent or act as a cooperating agent on transactions to increase their experience and become eligible for the Partner Program.
Leads do not go to the managing broker to divvy out, according to Austin. “That’s not the spirit of what we’re doing,” he said. “We’re verifying each individual agent.”
According to Ptaszynski, Redfin’s website generates more demand than their in-house agents can serve. “We continue to welcome individual agents into the Partner Program, but Lamar’s team and their focus on the broker level helps us be more efficient and spread the word about the program,” she said.”
“I think it’s one of the better kept secrets in real estate,” Ptaszynski said. “By working with brokers, the program becomes a value-added service both for their current agents and when they’re recruiting new agents.”
Making an impact with reviews on Redfin
According to Austin, one of the most important ways that agents can differentiate themselves on Redfin is through reviews. “We review every customer that comes through and now there’s a way for Partners to display those on their own marketing tools,” he said.
While Partners used to have their Redfin-related reviews housed only on the Redfin website, they can now add a link to their Redfin profile on their personal website and other platforms “to show the world the great work they’ve been doing through the Redfin Partner Program.”
As you gather more surveys within the platform, you’ll become more vetted and appealing to new leads as they come in. In the event of negative feedback, agents are able to leave a professional response. Here you should indicate what you have done or are doing to make the situation better.
In addition, to ameliorate the impact of negative reviews, consider leaving a friendly and professional response on all reviews, not just the bad ones. Thank clients for their business and offer your assistance in the future as well.
Remember, while they can be hurtful, reviews are not meant to be personal. Therefore, your response to a review should remain logical and fact-based. Stay focused on good communication throughout the transaction to ensure that the overall experience — and the overall level of client satisfaction — stays positive.
Redfin offers a robust referral network, helping you to do more business and raise your profile in your chosen market. Unlike other platforms, the Redfin referral model offers you the opportunity to connect with enthusiastic buyers who are excited to work with you, all without upfront financial risk.
Christy Murdock is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant and the owner of Writing Real Estate. She is also the creator of the online course Crafting the Property Description: The Step-by-Step Formula for Reluctant Real Estate Writers. Follow Writing Real Estate on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.