Looking to bolster its position in the real estate industry, Redfin plans to hire a vice president of real estate industry relations.
“We are seeking a dynamic, creative, action-oriented person to represent Redfin to the four corners of the real estate world. Letting everyone know what we are doing and thinking, why we are doing and thinking these things, and how they will benefit the consumer and the real estate industry,” the job description says. “You will help craft Redfin’s position on industry topics such as syndication and IDX rules and then spread the word about these positions, and their benefits, to the rest of the industry. You’ll be building these relationships throughout the industry via trust and hard work, not golf.”
It’s an intriguing position, providing additional clues on the direction of the Seattle company as it looks to position itself for success following the pending merger of Zillow and Trulia. It’s a new position at Redfin.
Interestingly, the position is similar to one which Zillow created earlier this year, hiring Move Inc. executive Errol Samuelson as chief industry development officer. Sameulson and Zillow were promptly sued by Move Inc. over the hire, and last month a judge ordered that Sameulson sit on the sidelines as it relates to his job in creating alliances with Multiple Listing Services, among other things.
Why does Redfin — a real estate brokerage — need a person to work on relations with others in the real estate industry?
Combined with the news of the company’s planned national expansion — a story which GeekWire uncovered earlier this year — it sure seems as if Redfin is positioning itself to compete with Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com in the battle for consumers eyeballs.
Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman has picked some choice words in the past about how online real estate portals — like Zillow and Trulia — are going to dominate the industry if real estate agents don’t stand up. The planned $3.5 billion merger of Zillow and Trulia is perhaps the ultimate sign of this growing power.
Looking to go public at some time itself, Redfin certainly would like to compare itself to Zillow (market value of $5.4 billion) and Trulia (market value of $2.1 billion) — rather than a brokerage like ZipRealty. (Realogy announced its plans to acquire ZipRealty for $166 million last month).
One way to command a higher valuations is to look more like a Zillow or Trulia — a national service that helps people find information about those homes. But Redfin spokeswoman Kari Dilloo says it does not represent a strategic shift, and Redfin isn’t changing its tune.
“Redfin is as focused as ever on being a full-service real estate brokerage that’s powered by an industry-leading website and technology,” she said. “Redfin is now in 35 metro areas and we’re expanding to others very quickly. At this point, it makes sense for the company to have someone in charge of working more closely with other leaders in the real estate industry.”
Separately, Redfin appears to be moving forward with plans to more broadly advertise its service, with a new advertising veteran slated to start next month. The company isn’t say who is taking on the role, but Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com all have embarked on national ad campaigns this year.
With the new advertising exec joining soon; a new chief economist and plans to hire a new real estate industry vet, Redfin appears to be amplifying its business (and taking a few plays out of the Zillow playbook).