Wednesday, October 22, 2014, 8:42am PDT
Redfin buys Seattle walkability startup Walk Score as competition heats up
Puget Sound Business Journal
Seattle real estate company Redfin, led by CEO Glenn Kelman, announced its first… more
Seattle online real estate company Redfin has acquired Walk Score, a Seattle company that calculates neighborhood walkability.
It’s the first acquisition for the decade-old company. The companies did not disclose terms of the deal.
"The acquisition is Redfin’s first and the reason for it is simple: We want to give folks a complete portrait of what it would be like to live somewhere new, within the house and in the surrounding neighborhood," Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman said in a blog post Wednesday.
The news comes just months after another acquisition in the Seattle online real estate market. Zillowannounced this summer it would acquire San Francisco-based Trulia for $3.5 billion.
Zillow is a tough and growing competitor for Redfin, but the smaller company does have a different business model that gives it a distinct advantage. Redfin employs real estate agents and has access to MLS data. Zillow has been criticized by real estate agents and homeowners for having out-of-date information.
This region is emerging as a leader in real estate technology as both Zillow and Redfin grow. There have been rumors that Redfin will join Zillow as a publicly traded company at some point in the near future, but for the time being, those are just rumors. CEO Kelman told Bloomberg in 2012 that he expected the company to be public in 2014. It’s not looking like that is likely to come to pass.
Kelman said in his blog that Walk Score, a company with 10 employees, is a good fit because it will provide Redfin more information about neighborhoods and provide Walk Score access to real estate agents.
Walk Score shows more than 20 million scores every day on 30,000 websites. It will operate as a separate entity "for the foreseeable future," according to the Redfin press release.
The acquisition will allow websites that use Walk Score to display 5,000 ratings each day for free, eliminating a fee that used to be required for more than 100 ratings.
Walk Score, which was founded in 2007, raised $2 million in 2012 from angel investors including Rudy Gadre and Geoff Entress. The majority of the team will join Redfin, and Walk Score CTO Matt Lerner will become Redfin’s vice president of local engineering.
The average home price in Western Washington in the first half of 2014 was $355,335—up by 4.6 percent over the first half of 2013. As is seen in the chart to the right, all but four counties saw average sales prices rise compared to a year ago. Price growth has been tapering over the past year, but remains generally positive.
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Aug 6, 2014, 6:32pm PDT
Still too tight: Limited number of Seattle houses for sale drives prices higher
The number of houses that are for sale in the greater Seattle, while increasing, remains constrained. The result is higher prices.
Staff Writer-Puget Sound Business Journal
More houses were for sale last month in the Puget Sound region compared to this time last year, but the inventory was still way too limited, area Realtors said Wednesday.
As a result, the price of houses and condos continues to climb. Snohomish County notched the biggest price hike last month when the median price of sold homes hit $319,950 in July. That’s 10 percent higher than the same month a year ago.
The median price increase 8.3 percent in Kitsap County to $252,250. In King County, the median sales price was $425,000, up 6.5 percent, and in Pierce County last month’s median price was $230,000, a 4.5 percent hike. The numbers were in a Northwest Multiple Listing Service report.
For months, real estate agents have been clamoring for more houses and condos to sell. They’re starting to get their wish, albeit slowly. In the four counties, the number of residences on the market climbed to nearly 14,700 in July, or around 1,550 more than a year ago.
Matt Deasy of Windermere Real Estate in Bellevue said King County is slowly improving supply should alleviate the frenzy among buyers, who are engaging in bidding wars. The frenzy, however, continues for some homes in desirable areas, such as Ballard, Green Lake and North Seattle, agents said.
“Inventory levels are still the main concern in many areas,” said George Moorhead of Bentley Properties in Bothell. He said buyers complain “there just isn’t enough to look at, then when something great does come up there are multiple offers.”
Unlike many previous years, Moorhead said “this year, we have seen weeks of aggressive activity.”
"Both companies have been enormously successful in creating compelling consumer brands and deep industry partnerships, but it’s still early days in the world of real estate advertising on mobile and Web. This is a tremendous opportunity to combine our resources and achieve even more impressive innovation that will benefit consumers and the real estate industry," Rascoff said in a statement.
The deal wasn’t a surprise: As late as last week, there was speculation about the deal, although the purchase price was estimated to be only $2 billion.
Ben MillerContributing Editor- Puget Sound Business Journal