Fresh off a big capital raise and in the midst of a nationwide expansion plan, a West Coast residential real estate brokerage firm has sunk its teeth into Richmond.
Seattle-based Redfin launched its presence in the city this week, hiring its first local agent and bringing along its calling card: an online map-based real estate search tool that allows users to see every home for sale in the local market.
That includes not only houses represented by Redfin agents, but those listed by competitors, as well.
“Redfin was founded on the idea that real estate should be more transparent, so that’s why our founders basically built a real estate search tool that wasn’t hidden behind an MLS wall,” Redfin spokesperson Alina Ptaszynski said, referring to the Multiple Listing Service system typically used by most real estate agents.
The map system and a handful of downloadable apps are available only in those markets where Redfin has agents on the ground. The website went live in Richmond on Nov. 19.
Redfin, founded in 2004, would not share how much it invested in the Richmond launch. The company announced this week that it raised $70.9 million in new capital to help it further expand into new markets.
The company started moving toward the East Coast about seven years ago and already has offices in Northern Virginia and Virginia Beach.
Its new Richmond operation will be led by Warren Teller, formerly of the Richmond-based 1776 Real Estate Group.
Teller said Redfin’s decision to put boots on the ground in Richmond is a natural expansion of the company’s territory in the region.
“Richmond is a great town – there’s a lot of opportunity here and we have such a fun, cooperative brokerage community,” he said.
At the moment, Teller is the only Redfin agent operating in the city. He said the company is hiring and plans to grow considerably in 2015, but it’s too early to say how many employees will eventually work out of Richmond.
Teller works with homes he describes as middle-of-the-road, with most of houses ranging between $350,000 and $450,000.
“But we do have the ability to cover the entire market at virtually every price point,” he said.
Redfin will be competing with the other brokerages already based in the city, but Ptaszynski said its tools will be available to all local agents.
Redfin’s map system taps into MLS records to compile its listings. The company does not charge other brokerages to have their listings on the Redfin site, Ptaszynski said.
“A lot of agents actually utilize Redfin’s search tools and mobile apps themselves since we put up every listing that’s available out there,” she said. “It’s helping other brokers market their listings, too, so I think the brokerage community as a whole will welcome Redfin.”
Without plans to open an office at the moment, Teller is currently working out of Redfin’s offices in Northern Virginia.
He said that because agents are out in the field so often meeting clients at homes or coffee shops, there may be no need to open a brick-and-mortar location.
“Time will tell on that,” he said.
As Redfin launches in Richmond, it will also start operations in Detroit and San Antonio, bringing its total number of active markets to 46. The company has doubled the number of markets it serves in the past year.