In a blog post yesterday Redfin announced that they just launched a new feature on their Web site called Agent Insights. The concept is that when one of their agents tours a property with a buyer client they can enter their thoughts on the property so that Web site visitors can see what they thought. Here are a few key details:
- Their buyer has 2 days to decide if they want to block the comments so that the general public does not use the information to outmaneuver them on a purchase.
- Only registered users can see the comments.
Redfin claims that they need peple to register to be in compliance with a Department of Justice ruling pertaining to the sharing of data but I’m skeptical. OK, I’m not a lawyer and I have not reviewed the ruling but it was my understanding that the ruling was about sharing of MLS data, which is covered by the VOW rules. If I’m correct then, because this is not part of the MLS data, registration shouldn’t be necessary.
But the bigger issue is how this will be received and what the unintended consequences will be. Does anyone have any thoughts on this? Personally I stay away from any controversial criticism of homes I’ve actually visited because I’m afraid that if I don’t listing agents might start to refuse showings to me – which technically they can’t but who knows. I will post on these homes but I try to remain neutral.
Another question is whether or not Redfin will be opening themselves up for any liability as a result of comments containing factual inaccuracies or violations of fair housing law. In fact, in the comments section of their blog post you already see one reference to a fair housing violation that Redfin had to correct. And then there is the possibility that an agent will just embarrass themselves and the company with some inarticulate comment, but Redfin is reviewing all the comments to ensure that these don’t sneak out. Hmmm. They must know just how sharp these knives in the drawer are.
Anyway, I’m happy to let Redfin figure this one out and when the dust settles we will figure out what we want to do.