Redfin hits roadblocks with real estate agent ‘Scouting Report’

A new feature from Redfin provides detailed stats on more than one million real estate agents

Redfin won kudos from some home shoppers earlier this week when it launched a new service called Scouting Report that provides vital statistics on more than one million real estate agents across the country. But the new service is already encountering some set backs, with the Seattle online real estate brokerage suspending the service in two markets where it does business.

Redfin has suspended service in Washington D.C. pending a review from the company’s MLS data provider, Metropolitan Regional Information Systems. It has also temporarily suspended the service in Phoenix, Arizona due to a software glitch.

Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman wrote on the company’s Web site today:

“There has been no known violation of MRIS data-sharing rules, but our initial partner agreement required us to notify MRIS in advance of material changes to the website, which we failed to do. Since signing the agreement in 2007, we have never submitted site upgrades or mobile tools to MRIS for advance review, but the changes represented by the Scouting Report are, from MRIS’s perspective, more material. We expect to restore full access to the Scouting Report once the MRIS review is complete. Thanks for your patience.

In Phoenix, Redfin said that it does not properly identify brokerages for at least 5 percent of real estate agents in the directory. “We hope to fix the problem in the next 24 hours, but won’t allow the public to access Scouting Report until then,” Kelman wrote.

The Scouting Report service — which provides consumers with agent information such number of homes sold; the average number of price drops for each home sold and the median sales price – was not made available in Seattle area due to restrictions from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

  • http://SeattleHome.com Sam DeBord, SeattleHome.com

    It’s an exciting idea from a consumer perspective.  If all of the data issues can be worked out, it could be very useful.  So far, there are quite a few issues. 

    • guest

      Sam, it is an exciting idea and one that was thought up by Agent Aquarium (www.agentaquarium.com). This company launched a more comprehensive service months ago that allows consumers to compare real estate agent performance side by side. It’s only available in Austin, TX right now but will expanding to more markets in the near future. 

      • http://SeattleHome.com Sam DeBord, SeattleHome.com

        Well done with the idea, it’s going to be tough to get MLS buy-in after the redfin launch.

        Issues brought up so far by brokers:

        Data is very inaccurate right now (missing sales, DOM, etc).  This is fixable, but it’s a bad way to bring a product to market. 

        Redfin can have a dozen people work on a transaction and the “team leader” gets credit for all closings, making them appear to close dozens of transactions/month on their own.  This is fine, but it doesn’t present a true picture of an agent’s production (the team leaders don’t even go out to show the properties).  It skews towards their business model, but I can’t blame them for displaying data in the fashion that makes them look best.

        Permission to post another brokerage’s data publicly isn’t specifically granted in most MLSs, and strictly forbidden in others.  This will probably bring the whole thing down.  It’s a case of not asking permission from your member organizations, and surprising the old guard does not usually end well.  More than likely, most MLSs will adopt new rules preventing their data from being used in this way.  Redfin may not mind so much, since this is probably a publicity play anyway.

  • http://twitter.com/CameronNovak CameronNovak

    It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.  I believe them to be a poor excuse for real estate advisors.

    Cameron
    Corona, California
    http://www.myagentgateway.com

    • Guest

      I agree, Cameron. Some Realtors are very poor excuses for real estate advisors, and I appreciate Redfin’s desire to tell me about them.

  • http://twitter.com/ginatufano Gina Tufano

    The data is flawed.  A great concept – if they were able to provide accurate information.  Without that, it is simply useless and misleading. 

  • CNBurkeJr

    This is one of those ideas that sounds great but is just not implementable (at least in a way that brings good data to the consumer).

    Most Realtors measure their success in three ways NUMBER OF TRANSACTIONS, VOLUME (sum of the sales prices of all the properties sold in a given year) and COMMISSION DOLLARS EARNED.

    BOTH are important to the agents who help people buy and sell houses. And in many cases there is NO direct correlation between the amount of volume one does and the amount of money they make. I know you are asking yourself, wait a minute, how is that possible? –Sales Volume and Commission Dollars Earned CAN be correlated but are not always.This is because many Realtors that are more senior, more experienced, or are semi-retired share their business with newer, more active agents that are looking to grow their business. In other cases a Realtor may introduce clients that are moving to a nearby area to another Realtor that is more experienced with that new community.

    In both of these situations the realtors will usually be sharing some portion of the commission and/or volume even though only one agent may be doing more or all of the work. In many cases ALL or MOST of the volume may be going to an agent who is really not involved in the transaction while the agent who does most of the work might get more of the commission.

    Similarly real estate teams may have many agents working with multiple clients that have a relationship with a Realtor that runs the team. That head Realtor may take all of the credit on MRIS for the sale even though someone on his team did most of the work and got a portion of the commission.

    MLS systems like MRIS do not have a way of accurately reporting on the complexity of these relationships.

    And since the data that Redfin is taking from MRIS and sharing with customers is automatically assuming that the agent marked “Listing Agent” or “Selling (buyer’s) Agent” from the MLS did the whole transaction and received all of the commission/volume it is actually presenting its consumers with BAD DATA.

    This yet another example of why Redfin is a technology company first and a Real Estate Brokerage second.

  • http://8889listit.com Beaumont Real Estate Agents

    Redfin was trying to undermine every other brokerage and agent in the country. Note to real estate buyers and sellers: Redfin is a real estate brokerage just like everyone else! Smartest move Redfin made was to kill this ploy.