Redfin (NASDAQ: RDFN) has built a tech-focused real estate platform that leverages technology to improve the homebuying experience. By reducing brokerage commissions and simplifying the homebuying process, Redfin has made buying and selling a home easier and less expensive than ever before.
On this clip from Industry Focus: Energy, Motley Fool analyst Tim Beyers and Industry Focus host Nick Sciple introduce listeners to the company and its product offerings.
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This video was recorded on May 23, 2019.
Nick Sciple: I'm excited to talk about Redfin today. This is a company that both of us own in our own personal portfolios, I believe. Before we dive into discussing what Redfin is and the opportunities it has as an investment, how did you first come across this company, Tim? How did it come onto your radar?
Tim Beyers: It's very interesting -- I work here in the Colorado office and Austin Smith, who is the founder of our, I guess you would call it a sister business, Millionacres, The Motley Fool Millionacres subsidiary. We have a product there called Mogul, in which we're looking at helping real estate investors get into interesting business and interesting commercial properties. And Redfin is one that we discussed, just out of hobbyist concerns. Austin is a really great real estate investor. He's got a track record in this area, so he introduced me to Redfin, I started digging and digging and digging. And ultimately, I got so convinced that this was an interesting company that I not only bought shares, but I presented an investing case to our board of directors at The Motley Fool. So, I've been on the Redfin train for a few months now, but it all started as just a random side conversation with Austin Smith, the founder of Millionacres.
Sciple: Yeah, that sounds very similar to how I came across Redfin. One of my closest friends a couple of years ago, right around when it IPO'd, one of his aunts was a Redfin agent, talked about how she really loved the experience so much. And then I realized, they're offering -- we'll talk about this later -- lower commissions for folks who are buying homes. In law school, I'd taken several classes about the real estate industry and seen some of the places where the incentives don't exactly line up. So you have a company where the folks that work for them on the broker side are really happy with their experience there, as well as something from a customer point of view, the value prop just makes a ton of sense. And the company's performed really well.
Part of what I just said probably touches somewhat for our listeners on what Redfin does, but I just want to dive into that a little more in depth, so we can give a picture of what the company is. They call themselves a technology-powered real estate company. They have the No. 1 most visited brokerage website online. They define their mission as redefining real estate in the consumer's favor. Tim, can you talk a little bit about some of the offerings that Redfin has and what they've done to change the industry to fulfill their mission?
Beyers: Right, good question! Redfin is not your typical real estate brokerage. All of the brokers are employees. They use technology in order to increase the efficiency in that cycle of buying or selling a home. They have a lot of different products. All of them are technology powered in some way. So of course, there's listings. You can list your home with Redfin and pay a small commission for that. It's either between 1% or 1.5%. Usually that's 3%. If you sell your home, traditionally it costs about 6% of the total sale price -- 3% for the seller's agent, 3% for the buyer's agent, they split that 50-50. Redfin doesn't work that way. They will work with other agents, but they lower the cost to either the buyer or the seller, whoever they represent, because they have this technology at play, and they do more things in the sales cycle. They have a title company, Title Forward; they have Redfin Mortgage; if you want to pay a slightly higher fee, they have something called Redfin Concierge, in which they will come in, clean up your home, get it all ready for showing, and you just pay a little bit extra on the sale price in order to get that. And they'll go as far as buying your home outright, take 7% off the price, and then hold that, put the home on their balance sheet, and then resell it, usually at a profit. That's something called Redfin Now, and they've been doing pretty well with that.
The way I think of it, Nick, is that Redfin is trying to add liquidity to the residential real estate market. What I mean by that is, you can sell faster, you can buy more easily, there's less headache about worrying about selling your existing home before you buy the home, and that funny period where you have to go get a condo or whatever it is. They're trying to add liquidity and shrink this time between selling your home and buying a new one, and in doing so, they're generating a lot of value. They're not the only one doing this, but they're uniquely focused on doing the entirety of the business, from brokering all the way through to writing a mortgage, getting you a title, and cleaning up your home. It's a pretty interesting business. And like you said, they've done very well with it.