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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Oct. 23, 201412:00 PM EST

Online broker Redfin expands to Jacksonville

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by: Carole Hawkins

Redfin, the national real estate company with a brokerage-meets-Zillow business model, has come to Jacksonville.

Redfin offers online tools and home listings, similar to Zillow and Trulia. But because data comes directly from the Multiple Listings Service, it is more complete, accurate and updated every 30 minutes, the company says.

Redfin is not just a listing service, it’s a brokerage. After checking the market online, users can contact a Redfin agent to help them purchase or sell their home.

Data shows that 90 percent of consumers start their real estate search online, but 89 percent use a Realtor once they get ready to purchase, a 2013 Bloomberg News article said.

Redfin services both parts of that consumer path.

The online listing generates leads for Redfin agents, which eliminates some of the time they would normally spend on client acquisition. The operating efficiency enables Redfin to rebate up to 50 percent on its half of the sales commission.

Redfin pays its agents a salary and ties bonuses to customer satisfaction. Traditionally real estate agents work on commission. Sandy Davidson, Redfin’s new broker in Jacksonville, said his company’s approach emphasizes customer service.

“This really is a very mission-driven company,” he said. “These are people who are about doing what’s right for clients.”

Jacksonville is the fifth market Redfin has opened in Florida, joining Miami, West Palm Beach, Orlando and Tampa.

The 14-year-old Seattle-based company has expanded aggressively this year. It now operates in 45 markets, up from 23 earlier in the year. Its website includes job postings in 79 cities, a sign Redfin plans to expand even more in coming months.

“Our business model of a full-service brokerage paired with technology took a while to scale,” Redfin spokeswoman Katy Klein said. “I think we’ve gotten to the point where we’ve figured out how to do that well.”

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