Here in the wee hours of Thursday morning, Redfin is opening for business in Chicago. It’s our eighth market, but the first new one in nearly a year. And our fourth major release in the last five months.
I hadn’t realized until this week how much we’d all missed expanding. Over the winter, we got a little chicken about opening new markets. But the requests for us to come to Chicago kept piling up (more than 1,200!). And, as nearly all of our markets slid back into the black, our expansion mojo has come back too.
Redfin Search Available Across Most of the States We Serve
And we aren’t stopping there! In fact, the new website increases by nearly 40% the number of homes you can search from Redfin.com, in far-flung parts of Washington, Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts and Illinois, over 100 new counties in all. We’ll probably never have agents in any of these areas, and so we have no way to make money directly from this traffic today. But we hope that a more national presence will drive more people to our brokerage in the urban centers, too.
And in any event, opening up Redfin Real Estate Search is a big deal for consumers, a sort of rural electrification project but with real estate data. Because we aren’t just talking about any old YAREW (Yet Another Real Estate Website) coming to Peoria. We’re Redfin dang it! And that means the real-deal MLS listings, with price history, tax records, past sales, days on market and all sorts of other information that far-flung consumers sometimes struggle to get on their own.
Google Street View and Microsoft Bird’s Eye, All In One Site
Meanwhile, we keep striving to make Redfin Search better. The Chicago-version of the site features Google Street View alongside Microsoft Bird’s Eye imagery, so you can zoom around most listings from different perspectives, for a complete portrait of a neighborhood or a property. I think we’re the first ones to do that.
We’ve also fixed up how we search for bank-owned properties. Sue McAllister of the San Jose Mercury News had previously complained that we allowed her to search separately for those bank-owned properties not yet listed in the MLS, but that we didn’t also highight the bank-owned listings that already are in the MLS. Good bust Sue! We fixed that this time around. You can ask for bank-owned listings in the MLS or straight from the bank.
What else? You’ll notice the site now works with Firefox 3.0, a compatibility gap that this whole last week had been embarrassing us. And the details we bring up for each listing should be a lot zippier, too.
Check out the new site, play with the new imagery, see what $1,000,000 buys you along Lakeshore Drive, and by all means tell us what you think!
First photo credit: Today is a Good Day, Flickr