Redfin is going national — in a big way.
The Seattle online brokerage is looking to hire real estate professionals in a whopping 46 new markets in 19 new states, according to recent job postings on the company’s Web site.
CEO Glenn Kelman confirmed the plans in response to an inquiry from GeekWire.
“Redfin’s rate of expansion is accelerating because we’ve gotten better at launching markets, even to places where many said the Redfin model would never work,” he said via email.
Kelman said that it’s unlikely that the company will open all 46 markets this year given the challenges in recruiting that many real estate superstars. He also reiterated that the company does not officially open markets until it has real estate professionals on the ground.
Nonetheless, the expansion represents a potentially huge increase in territory for Redfin, up from the 23 markets that 14-year-old company currently operates.
Kelman said that Redfin is now taking “a-hire-first-and-launch-website-later approach” to new markets.
In the past, we’ve integrated the data and localized the site, then sought approval from the local Multiple Listing Service before taking on the cost of staffing up; the hiring came only once we saw a clear path to getting local MLS approval.
This made sense when we were still dealing with technical gotchas and wary MLSs, and when we didn’t have much dough to pay idle brokers waiting months and months for approval from the local real estate board.
Now the process of data access and integration has gotten faster and more predictable than hiring and training the local team — every year at Redfin, we invest more time and expense in hiring and training that team.
To give ourselves a head-start, we put up job requisitions, then decide where to launch our website based on where we can find good people. Lots of people apply for each job, but we have to be picky. This service-first approach costs more, but it lets us deliver a better customer experience on day one.
The push may signal that Redfin is getting even more serious about an initial public offering. Investors typically prefer to see a company that has a national or international footprint before accepting it into the public markets.
Kelman downplayed the idea that the expansion effort could tie into the company’s desire to go public.
“We’re expanding to help more people buy and sell homes,” he said. “Such service is how we make virtually all of our money, to say nothing of the fact that’s it also our basic mission; accessing data is a means to delivering that service. Going public is, at some point in the future, a byproduct of it.”
He added that they are not fixated on how investors will value Redfin, instead focusing on delivering the best real estate service to consumers possible. “Good things will come from that, I promise,” he said.
Redfin raised $50 million last fall, and since then the company has been opening new markets, including Orlando, Norfolk-Hampton, Tucson and Minneapolis.
But that barely compares to what’s in store.
New jobs listed on Redfin’s Web site indicate that it is looking for real estate professionals in Birmingham, Alabama; Cleveland, Ohio; Buffalo, New York; Salt Lake City, Utah, and more than 40 other markets. The company also is pushing into full states such as Maine, New Hampshire and New Jersey.
Here’s an example of one of the jobs now listed on Redfin’s jobs page:
Redfin is coming to Vermont! As the Team Lead, you are responsible for building an excellent customer service organization, resulting in happy employees and happy clients. This is an opportunity to establish an area from the ground up, flexing your entrepreneurial muscles while having the backing of a world class organization and award-winning website. As we grow the market you’ll develop a team of agents, a coordinator and associate agents to serve your clients in a seamless fashion, establish best practices and build a team that’s not just great, but world class. And you’ll get plenty of clients, often as many as you can handle, who’ve chosen to work with you by checking out your profile on our website.
Redfin is considering adding its brokerage services in each of those markets. However, there may be more at play here too, since a national footprint could give Redfin an edge as it looks to bolster its real estate search offerings, creating a more comprehensive spot for those looking to find a home, and setting up more direct competition with sites such as Trulia and Zillow.
Here’s a look at the markets where Redfin is considering hiring new professionals.
Little Rock, Arkansas
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Fort Meyers, Florida
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
State of New Jersey
New Orleans, Louisiana
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Kansas City, Missouri
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albany, New York
Buffalo, New York
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Charleston, South Carolina
Greenville, South Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina
El Paso, Texas
Salt Lake City, Utah