Redfin: The Greatest Real Estate Website Ever
Buying a home is one of the most stressful, nerve-racking experiences in the world—and I haven't even bought one yet.
M and I almost made an offer on a place we technically shouldn't have. And we've seen a couple of places we really, really liked. But still no dice.
Throughout the whole search, there has been one constant: Redfin. Before I go any further, I want to say that I am NOT being paid to gush about Redfin nor am I going to gush about their business model, which has a whole lot of controversy surrounding it. What I'm going to gush about is their website, which has been instrumental in our search for our first home.
Finding a Home
The first thing you'll need to do is tell the site what you're looking for. And the search variables you can enter are pretty standard:
Tell Redfin what your criteria is and you'll be taken to the results page, which is kind of like a hybrid of Google Maps and an MLS sheet.
The top half of the page is a map showing all the results that match what you asked for in terms of price, bedrooms, etc. By the way, not this many results show up for my searches. This area and this price is beyond my means.
The bottom section shows you a listing of the properties showing on the map with crucial information like price, address, square footage, and how many days it's been on Redfin.
Click on any of the icons on the map or listings on the bottom and you'll get a small preview of images on the right hand side. If you like what you see, click on Details to get to the really good stuff.
The Details Page
This is where Redfin really shines—the details page has everything you could possible want about the property you're looking at. Let's take this place as an example.
OK, this first section gives you a short description beneath the obvious stuff like bed, bath, exposure, the MLS #, and of course the images on the right. Some sites are really annoying about how they show images, but I like this system that lets you scroll through without opening a whole bunch of new windows.
Like what you see? Then it's time to move on to the next section (I'm going to ignore the business side of Redfin until the end, so any section where they're selling themselves will be ignored).
Let's move on to the next area, which shows more detail about the property, like room sizes and appliances.
This is where M and I made sure the places we were looking at had central air, a washer/dryer, and that the bedrooms weren't going to have us at each other's throats after a while. Tax information is also on here, which is good to make sure you can afford.
Also in this section is a handy-dandy mortgage calculator, which is great to make sure you can actually afford a place or not. Notice the iPhone app logo? I don't have an iPhone, but if it does what the site can do, it must be a nifty little app. If you've tried it, please share your experiences in the comments!
Moving right along, the next section has some really cool features:
The map shows you a hybrid view of the property so you can get a quick idea of where the heck you might be living. Don't like the view? Click on the Bird's Eye View and you'll see a cool angle of the same place. Also in this section is the Property History section, which shows you any price changes that have been made to the place. This is really interesting stuff and can give you a good idea of how desperate and how willing to negotiate a seller may be. Property tax info is also here.
The next section gives you an idea of the comparables in the area:
This is all great info to have to see if this place is priced right for the neighborhood. The median condo value is sometimes off, but usually gives you a good sense of what other prices are out there. It's also cool to see the similar listings here, because they usually show you places that match what you're looking for. Not pictured in this screenshot is a field that shows recently sold properties in the area. That's also very, very valuable if you're thinking of putting an offer in.
Redfin: The Business
Like any other business, Redfin is about making money. I don't know much about their business or if it's a great service. I do know that they refund buyers a portion of the commission a real-estate broker typically takes in from the seller, which is nice. Is it worth it to use an "internet broker" to save some money? Maybe, I don't know.
I do know that we aren't even considering it for now—we're using a broker a friend recommended and trusted when he bought his first home.
But in terms of the website and all the information they provide on a single page, I haven't found a better site. If anyone else out there has, please feel free to share!
Inside tip: If you know of an address that has a place for sale, type it into Google and odds are Redfin will have it on there somewhere. If not, type the address (100 W Fake Street) and then "redfin" and it's sure to show up. I do it all the time!
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