Redfin partners with security giant ADT for program that lets buyers tour homes without an agent

Redfin’s Direct Access program enables buyers to tour a home by unlocking the door via an app and connected smart lock. (Redfin Photo)

Tech tools such as video tours have increasingly helped power real estate transactions during the pandemic, decreasing the need for face-to-face interactions. Redfin will now build on its tech offerings by partnering with security company ADT to monitor homes in the real estate brokerage company’s Direct Access program, which enables buyers to tour homes without an agent.

Redfin announced the partnership Wednesday, along with a rollout of the Direct Access program to new markets. Direct Access was launched in 2020 in 13 markets in California, Nevada and Texas, and will now be available in 22 markets nationwide, including Seattle, Northern Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.

Direct Access enables buyers to unlock a smart lock on a vacant home with an app after completing an identify and verification process. The program enables buyers to see homes quickly, without coordinating with an agent, and increases views of listed homes, said Bridget Frey, Redfin’s chief technology officer, in a statement.

ADT will provide additional security to the program, keeping sellers informed about entry and exits on the property. ADT will take a photo of every person that enters, monitor when doors are open or closed, and detect unauthorized entry after touring hours, which are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Redfin pays for the service and the buyer keeps the ADT lock, sensors, and security panel. Buyers have the option of purchasing monitoring services from ADT for their new home. They can purchase a 36-month monitoring contract from ADT starting at $28.99 per month.

The pandemic has put churn into the real estate market, for instance apparently spurring movement of people away from core urban areas. And it also is changing how people buy and sell homes. In the past year, about 1 in 10 of tour requests at Redfin have been for video chat tours led by agents, according to a spokesperson. Since the pandemic began, virtual 3D walkthroughs of Redfin listing have increased by 614%.

Redfin also last December expanded its iBuyer service, RedfinNow, to Seattle and San Francisco. The service, available in 14 states and the District of Columbia, lets homeowners quickly sell their home to Redfin, using an algorithm to calculate a home price. Redfin then fixes up the homes and sells them.

Redfin said 40% more homes were bought with the iBuyer service in the second quarter of this year compared to all of last year. Other real estate companies, such as Opendoor and Zillow Group, offer similar options.

The U.S. housing market gained nearly $2.5 trillion in value last year, the most since 2005, according to a Zillow analysis. There are signs the market may be stabilizing, as annual home sales nationally fell 6% in August from a year earlier, according to Redfin. Still, Redfin reports that asking prices of homes listed for sale hit an all-time high this September, up 12% over the year-ago period.

In August, Redfin posted second quarter revenue of $471 million, a jump of 121 percent over the same period last year. Its net loss widened to $27.9 million from $6.6 million a year earlier, partly due to the recent acquisition of the online rental marketplace company RentPath. Redfin also recently built out its services to add climate risk assessments to listings.

In a recent podcast with GeekWire, Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman talked about the real estate market, the pandemic, its recent acquisition of RentPath, and the need to add more services to stay viable and grow.

Tech Bridget frey Redfin