"Shopping for a home should be all about the customer," Kelman told us. "By thinking more like a retailer, it's possible to make the experience better."
Kelman said he was particularly inspired by the Apple store model, in which employees are extensively trained as experts and customers are helped at the Genius Bar.
Many people don't look forward to buying a home, and see it as a chore, like buying a used car, Kelman told us. They're also wary of trusting real estate agents because they're painfully aware of the commission at stake.
Redfin made a few changes to the classic real estate model to make the experience better for the customer.
Redfin's agents are paid a good salary and their commission is dependent on customer satisfaction. Customers have access to all the listings online, and don't have to rely on a realtor to show them what's for sale. The company also charges a lower commission than most agencies.
The company also has an amazing real estate app that allows people to drive around and search for nearby listings that fit their criteria. That makes it easier to browse by neighborhood.
The model is working: Redfin's homes sell 15 days faster and for $8,700 more than average. The company also has a 97 percent customer satisfaction rating.
Right now, the majority of Redfin's customers are under the age of 40. The older crowd is harder to draw in because they already have established companies realtors.
But Redfin's model is appealing to today's demanding consumer.
"We wanted homebuyers to feel like their agent was someone on their side," Kelman said. "We've racked our brains to think about how we can make the process of buying a home cooler, easier and more efficient."
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