BY KIMBERLY MILLER - PALM BEACH POST STAFF WRITER
An innovative real estate firm opened this month in Palm Beach County touting a business model where agents are paid a salary, instead of commission, and bonuses are based on customer satisfaction ratings.
Redfin, a Seattle-based company with offices in 22 markets nationwide including Palm Beach Gardens, believes salaried Realtors can better serve homebuyers because there is less pressure to push someone into a home just to get the commission. Most agents also have health care benefits and opportunities for stock options.
“It’s not about the commission, it’s about selling homes that people will be happy with,” said Robyn Jackson, Redfin’s South Florida area manager. “There’s less pressure to do the deal just to put food on their table.”
Most Realtors work as independent contractors for firms with the bulk of their earnings coming from commissions. The traditional commission of 6 percent is typically split between the buyer’s agent and seller’s agent.
At Redfin, part of the commission goes toward the agent’s salary while part is shared with the client, giving them cash back at closing. The amount of cash back depends on the price of the home.
The company is also a software technology firm that began as a map-based real estate search site in 2004. Two years later, it became a brokerage and now has about 500 agents nationwide. The name Redfin is an anagram of finder and friend.
“Our website gives homebuyers all the information they need, not just about the listing, but the process,” said James Marks, Redfin’s Southeast district manager. “We have homebuyer guides and classes and show all the reviews of agents from the deals they do.”
Homebuyers can search for homes on Redfin’s website, choose an agent based on customer service ratings and schedule a home tour. Listings, which are based on the Multiple Listing Service, are updated every 15 minutes to 30 minutes.
Redfin also collects information on contracts their agents write so that homebuyers can see what kind of offers are being accepted and rejected in specific areas.
“It gives the homebuyer a sense of what it takes to win a bidding war,” said Rachel Musiker, a Redfin spokeswoman.
Please contact me as I am Redfin Partner.