Redfin, the technology-powered real estate brokerage, announced it launched Direct Access, a program that lets prospective buyers self-tour vacant Redfin listings on their own schedule, without an agent. Prospective buyers can now use the Redfin app to unlock doors and tour these homes, potentially generating more foot traffic and more interest for Redfin’s home-selling customers. Launched on March 27, Direct Access is now available to Redfin customers selling vacant homes in Austin, Dallas, Houston, Inland Empire, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orange County, Palm Springs, San Antonio, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Ventura County. The company plans to bring this option to additional markets, beginning with Phoenix in early May. Redfin is the first major brokerage to outfit its sellers’ listings with smart locks to let buyers take self-guided tours.
The expansion of the Direct Access program comes as the company continues to implement technology features to keep agents and customers safe during the coronavirus pandemic—such as video-chat tours, live video open houses, virtual walkthroughs, and more. Redfin is also reporting today that:
Requests for agent-led video-chat tours soared 350% last week from the same period a month ago. Video-chat tours represent about one-third of Redfin’s home tour demand, up from less than 1% at the beginning of March.
Of the offers signed last week, 1 in 7 were signed by customers who had toured the home they made an offer on via video, up from 1 in 8 the prior week and close to zero at the beginning of March.
As of April 19, views of virtual walkthroughs on Redfin.com have increased by nearly 300% since the beginning of March.
This week, Redfin.com began highlighting on a map which listings offer virtual walkthroughs and letting customers filter search results to show only homes that can be toured in 3D. This feature is currently available in select markets and will be rolled out nationwide in the near future.
On April 11, Redfin expanded its live video open house pilot program to three additional markets (Minnesota, Raleigh and South Carolina), and on April 16, it began hosting video open houses on Facebook Live in addition to Zoom. The pilot program, which launched on April 4 in Portland, OR, Boston, and Oklahoma, is now operating in six markets total with plans to expand to additional markets soon.
Let Yourself In with Direct Access
With Direct Access, buyers can use the Redfin app to unlock the door and visit participating homes, on their schedule, any day of the week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Redfin began offering Direct Access self-tours for homes the company owns through RedfinNow last year. About 1 in 6 RedfinNow homes with Direct Access were purchased by buyers who self-toured the home they bought. The company was already building this self-service feature for its brokerage customers selling homes and accelerated the launch to help buyers and sellers stay safe while social-distancing measures are in effect.
“We always knew buyers would like the convenience of self-touring, but it also happens to be the safest way to get into a home in an era of social distancing,” said Redfin CTO Bridget Frey. “Just as video chats are replacing family gatherings, Direct Access and smart locks can replace the need for a real estate agent to drive to a home and open the door for you.”
Redfin requires all buyers to verify their identity prior to self-touring homes and uses technology to monitor touring activity, among several other safety and security measures for the program. To keep buyers safe, listings with Direct Access are professionally cleaned and sanitized at least twice a week and more frequently if they experience a high volume of tours on a particular day. Redfin encourages visitors to take safety precautions—such as limiting tours to one group at a time and avoiding frequently touched surfaces.
Buyers can find Redfin listings with Direct Access by looking for homes that have the self-tour banner on Redfin.com and our mobile apps. For people planning to sell their home in one of the markets where the program is available, talk to a local Redfin agent to learn more about whether your home is a good candidate for Direct Access.