Redfin Direct, a service that lets buyers without agents make offers on homes, continued months of steady expansion this week when it launched in several massive California markets.
As of Tuesday, Redfin Direct is now available in Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento, Santa Barbara, the Inland Empire, and “most” of Redfin’s other California markets, according to a company statement. The service first launched in Boston in May and lets buyers who don’t have an agent make offers on Redfin-listed homes.
After Boston, Redfin Direct expanded to Virginia and Texas. However, the California launch represents a massive growth of the service; tens of millions of people collectively live in the metro areas where it is now available, and those areas also have some of the priciest real estate in the U.S.
Redfin did not immediately respond to Inman’s request for comment Tuesday, but it appears that the California launch is far and away the biggest expansion Redfin Direct has ever seen.
Would-be Redfin Direct users begin by visiting the company’s website and answering a 55-question online form. They then receive data that Redfin has compiled about other offers in their respective area. The idea is to help the buyers make competitive offers on their own.
Redfin Direct is only available for listings that Redfin has itself, meaning that unrepresented buyers can’t use it to make offers on a home listed by, say, a Keller Williams or Coldwell Banker agent. Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman has also argued in the past that he doesn’t see Redfin Direct eliminating agents. Instead, the idea is to appeal to buyers who feel more comfortable acting on their own.
The expansion of Redfin Direct into California caps a year of significant growth for the brokerage. In addition to the direct offers program, the company has also grown its iBuyer service, dubbed RedfinNow, expanding recently for example into both Houston and Las Vegas. RedfinNow is also available in Austin, Dallas, Denver, and various parts of California, with plans to expand into additional U.S. cities in the future.
Though Kelman has said in the past that most buyers reject RedfinNow offers, the company has nevertheless indicated that both the iBuyer program and the direct offers service are important components of a pro-consumer toolbox.
For example, in a statement Tuesday, Mark Bennett — Redfin’s state broker in California — added that Redfin Direct can help a buyer stand out in a multiple offer situation.
“For the buyers who are comfortable being unrepresented, we are making it easy to make an offer online,” Bennett added. “This is just one more way Redfin is redefining real estate and helping our customers save money.”