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September 16, 2009

Redfin Is a Better Way to Buy or Sell a Home, or Is It?

Filed under: Start-up Companies Reviews — admin @ 5:15 am

Founded in 2004, Redfin is a new website that is dedicated to the real estate industry. Redfin advertises that its way is the better way, however, after trying out the website, you will find that some of the features might not work properly. The first thing that you notice with Redfin, is that its search area does not cover wide areas throughout the United States. What makes Redfine unique is that it is a real estate brokerage firm, like some of the major real estate brokerages, such as Century 21, Remax, Coldwell Bankers, and others. The only difference is that Redfin is completely online.

How does Redfin work? Redfin has a search engine which promts you to type in a zip code or a city. The only problem is that Redfin’s search area is limited and you will not be able to find a home everywhere. If you type in a zip code, unless it is within the Redfin search area, you will get a dialogue box that tells you that says “We are unable to find 46360. It may be outside of our search area.” Search area is in hyper text and encircled in an outline like a button. Below that phrase, you will see several choices where you can use Redfin to find a home. These areas include the Boston area, the Chicago area, the Long Island & Westchester area, the Sacramento area, the San Francisco Bay area, the Seattle area, Southern California, and the Washington, DC area. If you type in a zip code that is in the Chicago area but outside of the search area, you will get the above mentioned dialogue box. For example, if you type in the zip code 46360, which is the zip code for Michigan City, Long Beach, Duneland Beach, Michiana Shores, and surrounding areas in Indiana. This area, though in Northwest Indiana, it is still considered to be part of the Chicago area, but it is outside of the Redfin search area. The only option that you have left is to click on the on the hyperlink that indicates that you want to search in the Chicago area.

After you click on the Chicago area hyperlink, you will find that the search area for the Chicago area stops right at the Indiana line and not even Gary, Indiana is covered in the Chicago area as far as Redfin is concerned. The counties covered in the Chicago area are Cook, Du Page, De Kalb, and some of the other surrounding counties. This is fine if you want to be close to Chicago, but if you want to be in Indiana, Redfin cannot help you.

Redfin also offers other services as well. Besides allowing you to search for homes online, Redfin also has certified real eastate brokers which can organize open houses or a private showing for you. You can use Redfin not only to buy homes, but to sell your home as well. Furthermore, for those of you who feel uncomfortable with communicating with a broker by email, you can also talk to a Redfin agent by calling a toll free number.

Redfin is based in Seattle, Washington and is a privately owned company that employs over 80 people. Redfin has three people on its management, who are Glen Kelman, Scott Nagel, and Michael Young.

Redfin’s investors include Madrona Venture Group, which invested $770,000 in series A funding in September of 2005. In May of the following year, Madrona Venture Group was joined by BEV Capital and Vulcan Capital in a $8 million investment in series B funding. The three vc firms were later joined by Draper Fisher Juvertson or DFJ in a $12 million investment in series C funding in July of 2007.

The Madrona Venture Group is a vc firm that believes in funding the passion behind the idea. In other words, the Madrona Group funds ideas that revolutionize the way people work. The Madrona Group was founded in 1995 and primarily invests in the Pacific Northwest and in early stage companies in that region who are in the IT industry. Some other companies in Madrona’s portfolio include Animoto, Borrow or Steal, BuddyTV, PayScale, ExtraHop, Intrepid, and others.

BEV Capital is a vc firm that is a specialty firm and specializes its investments. BEV Capital primarily invests in companies who are in the consumer industry or companies who create products that support the consumer industry, such as marketing software, internet based technologies, analytics, etc. Some other companies that are in BEV Capital’s portfolio include 1-800-Diapers, Alloy, Classmates Online, Cool Cuts 4 Kids, Outpost.com, Waterfront Media, and others.

Founded in 2003, Vulcan Capital is a private investment firm that invests in all stages of a company’s life. Vulcan Capital primarily invests in companies who are in the media, communications, energy, natural resources, life sciences, and tech industries. Some companies in Vulcan’s portfolio include Plains Resources, Icat, Makena Capital Management, Intrapace, Dreamworks Animation, Radar Networks, and others.

Draper Fisher Jurvetson, or DFJ, is a vc firm that has been around for over 24 years. The vc firm invests in extraordinary entrepreneurs who have the desire to build great companies. Currently, DFJ has over $6 billion in committed capital under its management. Some other companies that are in DFJ’s portfolio include 4 Info, Achex, Abuzz, Aniboom, AppStream, and others.

Redfin does have a few competitors, however, two of Redfin’s most noteworthy companies are LakePlace.com and HotPads.

LakePlace.com is a company that offers a service similar to Redfin, but is strictly devoted to lakefront homes and properties that are for sale. LakePlace.com has a search area which is much smaller than that of Redfin. This is because LakePlace.com is an online recreational real estate firm that solely searches for homes for sale on lakes in Wisconsin and Minnesota. LakePlace.com is a privately owned corporation which is based in Richfield, Minnesota and was founded in 2003. The company has two people on its management team.

HotPads is a company that is building a comprehensive online real estate marketplace. HotPads has the belief that finding your next home should be easy to find and HotPads also advertises itself as having an innovative web interface that makes choosing your next home a piece of cake. HotPads is a privately owned corporation which is based in Washington, DC, and was founded in 2005. The company currently employs 12 people and its primary investor is Meakem Becker Venture Capital.

For more information about Redfin, click here.

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