You know your real estate market is bouncing back when new companies swoop in to benefit from recovery.
Redfin, an Internet-driven, nationwide residential real estate brokerage, announced April 29 that it has opened a brokerage office in Las Vegas.
The company launched its Las Vegas home-search website in 2010, but held off on a brick-and-mortar location. That’s partly because Redfin pays its agents salaries whether they have business or not, rather than the commissions based on actual closings that other brokerages offer. So starting up can be pricey — a dicey proposition in a depressed market.
“We really weren’t sure if we could build a business in Las Vegas,” CEO Glenn Kelman said. “It was one of those places where we were really scared to launch because the market had been so distressed. We have to lay out a significant amount of capital just to make sure our business works.”
But after careful analysis, Redfin decided to make the move.
For starters, the company has a strong presence in Southern California, Kelman said, and there are natural synergies between that market and this one.
Plus, Redfin tends to do well in markets where people come from all over the world to buy property, because out-of-state buyers tend to start their property hunt online. And that’s central to Redfin’s model, which converts Internet property searches into leads for its sales agents.
Executives with Redfin — an anagram of “finder” and “friend” and a reference to an “aggressive sharkfin,” according to company founders — said they hope their technology-driven business will take a bite out of the local competition.
Because the company uses the Internet rather than advertising to generate leads and help people find homes, it has less overhead than other brokerages. That allows it to charge a fee to home sellers of 1.5 percent, or half of the market norm of 3 percent.
“We have technology that can make the whole process easier,” Kelman said. “You can stand in front of a house, request a home tour from your iPhone, and when you’re ready to buy, we can give you a dossier of the listing agent’s negotiating history, let you sign documents online and get a digital guide to escrow prices. When you list a house, we can make it easy for you to see how many people are looking at your property online, and drive the best digital campaign to increase those numbers.”
Paying agents salaries rather than commissions also helps customer service, Kelman said.
“You get a real estate agent who’s really on your side. Instead of trying to get you into any house, they’re trying to get you into the right house. It’s a radically different approach. People want to be able to relax around their agent, and always be sure he or she has their best interests at heart.”
Ed Smith has joined Redfin as the company’s market manager. Smith, who’s worked in Las Vegas real estate since 1996 and managed a Keller Williams office before making the move to Redfin, said he plans to hire eight to 10 sales agents, as well as a transaction coordinator and a tour coordinator, by the end of the year. The company has temporary offices inside a brokerage on Maryland Parkway, but is looking to move into permanent space sometime this fall.
Smith said it’s a perfect time for consumers to have Redfin in the market.
“Vegas is just now recovering from people being tremendously underwater,” he said. “We’ve had a healing in our market over the last couple of years that has brought a lot of people back into a position where they have some equity. Reduced fees from a seller’s perspective means they net more out of the sale of their home. And buyers are still struggling to qualify (for mortgages). Every penny you can save them helps.”
■ Redfin wasn’t the only brokerage with big news last week.
Prudential Americana Group, Realtors made its new name official on April 29. The company is now Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, to reflect its affiliation with the Warren Buffett-led investment group that owns the Prudential network nationwide.
The brokerage — the third-largest in the Prudential system — has 21 offices and nearly 2,000 sales agents in Las Vegas and Phoenix. In Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, the company joins an organization with 28,000 agents in 750 offices in 37 states.
“We are proud to join Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, which we consider to be one of the finest developments to come along in real estate,” Americana Holdings CEO Mark Stark said in a statement. “The brand carries the name of Berkshire Hathaway, one of the world’s most trusted and respected corporations. It’s also fresh and exciting — not part of the old guard in real estate — and we’re looking forward to an exceptionally bright future as part of it.”
■ Burke Construction Group recently wrapped on a medical project in Henderson.
The contractor completed construction of a $4 million expansion of the Seven Hills Behavioral Institute expansion at 3021 Horizon Ridge Parkway. Work included the conversion of a 15,000-square-foot office building into an institutional-occupancy center, as well as renovations to the institute’s existing, 26,400-square-foot, 56-bed building.
Stengel Hill Architecture designed the project. Burke project manager Travis Schultz oversaw construction.
Burke built the original project in 2008.
■ Brokers with Voit Real Estate Services closed recently on two big leases.
Kevin Higgins, Garrett Toft and Zac Zaher represented tenant Jimenez Arms LLC in its 64-month lease of 27,412 square feet at 7390 Eastgate Road. Galit Kimerling of MDL Group represented landlord Harsch Investment Properties Nevada LLC in the $745,013 deal.
Higgins, Toft, Zaher and Jennifer Levine also represented landlord The Realty Associates Fund IX LLC in its lease of 6,872 square feet at 6700 Paradise Road to tenant 24-7 Internet LLC. The 64-month deal is worth $265,314.
Contact reporter Jennifer Robison at email@example.com or 702-380-4512. Follow @J_Robison1 on Twitter.