For real estate junkies, this is news: Redfin has arrived in Philly. If you've never heard the word "redfin" and think it sounds like an cajun fish Paul Prudhomme would champion, let us explain: Redfin is a tech-savvy, data-heavy real estate agency that positions itself as being on the side of the buyer rather than the agent. Their listings are very thorough and include negative details about properties that agents don't generally like to promote. And agents are paid based upon customer satisfaction rather than commission. The agency is also operating in 2012, so electronic signatures and the like are the norm. This morning the company "unleashed," as Redfin's Rachel Musiker put it, more than 40,000 Philadelphia-area listings onto its website as part of its Philly launch.
On its blog, Redfin writes that their unique data advantage means "Philly real estate phanatics [sic] now have direct access to the same MLS data used by local agents, with details no other Philadelphia broker has ever displayed." The key word there is "broker"—while it's true that much of the info on Redfin isn't typically provided on broker sites, a lot of it is available at sites like Zillow and Trulia. Below we give you three listings for a house in Mt. Airy at 428 W. Ellet St. and you can compare for yourselves. For this particular listing, at the moment, Redfin has the most thorough info.
The more important question for home buyers, of course, isn't how great the website is (though that's part of it) but how the agency works with people. Sounds like you do a bit more legwork (like driving yourself around) and they give you money back at the end. The way gas prices are going up, it might even out.
In upcoming weeks, we'll be talking to some people about how a new chain brokerage firm arriving in Philly changes the shape of things for independent agencies. If you end up using Redfin as your broker, let us know how it goes. Meanwhile, here's what Yelpers had to say in other cities: