Active Rain October 5, 2011

RIP Redfin Scouting Report

Redfin has laid their Scouting Report program to rest after less than a week. CEO Glenn Kelman posted a poignant announcement today on why he pulled the plug on the program, and among his statements, which I agree with, was the following: 

But I still think the folks most violently opposed to Scouting Report didn’t hate it because it was wrong but because it was right. 

I was not among those who was opposed to scouting reports philosophically. I just wanted reliable data. Because I belong to multiple MLS systems, my own report was incomplete, and this presented a problem for me. Of the 40+ deals that I brokered in the past 12 months, Redfin’s report had only 2. I felt forced to post my own report just a day ago: Redfin Can’t Get my Full Scouting Report Right. So I’ll Give it to You Here.

Glenn Kelman's Tweet on Scouting ReportsWe can argue all we want about whether or not a broker has the right to publish the production of another brokerage’s sales data. What we as licensees need to understand, and I have said this before, is that this was a long time coming, and it will not go away. With information technology progressing, consumers will soon know who did what where and when, and for how much. Why shouldn’t they? It would certainly weed out the obfuscators who mislead consumers with false claims about their production, which, in my view, is a collosal problem today. 

Unfortunately, the program was poorly executed. No broker can expect an IDX feed meant for a consumer home search to tell them, for example, when an agent with both sides of a transaction was a dual agent, or that 120 days on market in one MLS is worse than 90 days on market in another, when one counts days under contract and one doesn’t. Someone else is bound to pick up the ball. 

But at the end of the day, whoever does this has to get the data right, period. If you can’t, don’t do it. I learned a long time ago that the best thing a brokerage-any brokerage- can do is play its position. In 2007 I elected to never originate a loan again because the industry had changed too much for me to add value. And Redfin should stick to being a kickass home search site that gives consumers an option they didn’t have before. 

If Redfin is truly the *answer” to the real estate industry they claim is broken, then their model will gain traction and grow organically. My company never grew because I antagonized the competition. It grew because I worked hard and did the right thing. Redfin will grow or not depending on how well they broker real estate.