But Moe! Fine-tuning a business model.


To better serve you? Maybe they’ve just put on a little weight. And sometimes once you get in, it’s a little hard to gracefully get out.

Redfin offers a two-fer deal on press releases this morning. One announces “a new version of Redfin.com designed to give buyers the most thoroughly informed real estate search experience on the Internet.”

Redfin’s goal is to delight our audience of hard-core real estate fanatics by offering Freakish Depth on major real estate markets… The site also now supports the Apple Safari browser.

Nice site, but we have seen it all before. In fact, I can get Freakish Depth on any of a number of sites. At least you dudes, like, speak my language, you know, ’cause some sites are just so, like random. Safari rocks!

If you believe the rhetoric, they endeavor to turn the real estate industry on its head. Forget the rhetoric. They, of course, endeavor to make money acting as agents while pretending to be something else – Freakishly hip innovators.

The problem is this. Delivery of online information is no longer an innovation; it is a basic business practice. Their end game to profitability, of course, lies in moving more product. Redfin’s premise from the outset was to “sell” for less but “sell” to more. Volume discounts, unfortunately, only work when you have volume. Curly is stuck in his sweater, but how will they get him out?

Which brings us to the second announcement.

SEATTLE – Jan. 31, 2008: Online real estate broker Redfin Corporation today rolled out a 75-day trial of a new home-tours policy that allows visitors to its site to arrange four Redfin-hosted home tours without paying any money up-front or making any commitment to Redfin.

Hmm… The whole idea of showing homes to buyers sounds a little traditional. I guess now it’s hip to be square.

The first two tours would be free, and the third and fourth tours would cost $250 (each) at closing, with any subsequest tours costing $250 in advance.

What’s next? If, having connected the homes on a grid plane, the point of the intersection of the four lines lies beyond a ten mile radial projection of the Redfin Field Agent’s home office, and gas prices exceed $3.50 per gallon, a home tour surcharge shall be applied, but only when a transaction is not ultimately consummated by Arbor Day or Tuesday, whichever occurs first.

I predict this will be no more successful than the old program in which a single free home tour was offered. Keep in mind, the one tour of yesteryear was limited to three hours; now they limit the showings to two. Afterall, something’s got to give. They can’t make money if they are expected to spend all day with people.

For the first time, users can download data to a spreadsheet for in-depth analysis.

In the future, Redfin might just find that those same folks who clamored to see more homes might be lobbying for a professional to do a little of his own in-depth analysis on their behalf. I wonder what that will cost? Somebody get the tire iron.

Get your Instant Home Value…