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Redfin is rolling out an online purchase option for homes

There’s a lot of money at work right now trying to reinvent the way that homes are bought and sold. Perhaps the most popular trend is “instant buying” or algorithmic home buying. I have been writing about this for years, mostly because of Opendoor. But now there are lots of companies competing in this space. With this model, home sellers get the benefit of an almost immediate sale, though usually it’s at a slightly lower price.

Redfin, on the other hand, is returning to something that it first tried out back in 2006: a buy now button on its online listings. It failed back then. But maybe it was simply too early. The feature allows unrepresented buyers — that is, buyers without an agent — to make online offers. Naturally, it’s far from a single click process. But when accepted, the seller ends up paying about half the amount of commission.

According to the New York Times, the company started testing the feature in late March in the Boston area. Of the 120 homes listed on Redfin with a “start an offer” button, 5 ended up being purchased via an online bid. That’s more than I would have expected. But Redfin positions these offers as being the stronger option because they save sellers money. There’s also an option to tour the home on your own.

Given this initial response, the company is now working to roll out this feature nationally, market by market. Is this the future of home buying?

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