Why I Work At Redfin: One Agent’s Take On Being An Employee

Lynn Ikle has been a Redfin agent for more than 10 years, so she has plenty of insight on what it’s like working for a company with an employee model. Here’s why she continues to choose Redfin over a traditional brokerage.

Almost weekly, I find myself in a conversation with an agent at another brokerage about my job at Redfin and what it’s like to be a W-2 employee agent. They are genuinely curious. After more than a decade at Redfin, I’m well aware of the misconceptions about Redfin and agents like me.

A common one is that Redfin agents are inexperienced. Considering I’ve done over 600 transactions in my career, I usually just laugh this one off. The one that bugs me the most is the insinuation that Redfin agents deliver less service or are less driven because we’re W-2 employees and not independent contractors, that agents are at Redfin because we couldn’t hack it at a traditional brokerage.

If you’ve ever thought that, or wondered what kind of agent would work at Redfin, please read on.

Before joining Redfin, I was an independent contractor at a traditional brokerage. Several of my family members are traditional agents. I know the pros and cons of both 1099 and W-2. Redfin is the best fit for my career, my family and my professional ambitions, but I respect agents who choose a different path.

A brokerage for agents who like real estate

The main reason I continue to choose Redfin is because I love selling real estate. As a traditional agent, I was spending 80 percent of my time getting business and only 20 percent of my time closing it. Redfin is the opposite.

Because I have a consistent pipeline of customers, I’m able to put all my energy into my clients and helping them meet their goals. I never have to worry about the next deal, like I did as a traditional agent.

With so many repeat and referral customers and the business Redfin drives to me, I often turn my profile off on the website so I don’t get new customers and can just focus on helping the ones I have.

With zero lead gen, I simply focus on what I do best: price, strategize, negotiate, solve problems. Many agents love the entrepreneurial aspects of running their own business. I respect that, but I’d rather spend my time closing deals than managing a business.

I’m supported by a team, so I don’t have to run around installing lock boxes, scheduling photographers or ordering signs. I have a coordinator who helps manage logistics and paperwork.

Rather than closing several deals a year, I’m closing several deals a month. This volume wouldn’t work for everyone, but I thrive on it. It helps me stay attuned to the market, so I can help my clients win.

The fuzzy math on gross commission income

As a top-producing agent, I get lots of recruiting calls. Every year on my birthday, the broker at one of the largest brokerages in my area calls me. “You’re still at Redfin?” he’ll ask. “Is this the year you’re going to come work for us?”

While I admire his persistence, I let him know that I’m happy at Redfin. I earn well over six figures in take home pay every year. And every year, it gets easier because I get higher bonuses for every repeat and referral customer. I have a significant amount of Redfin stock and continue to accrue more, building my nest egg for the future.

Recruiters talk a lot about gross commission income, but are light on details. GCI can be very misleading, especially for a new licensee. This industry talks a lot about unlimited earning potential, but fails to acknowledge how many agents are living commission check to commission check.

It’s easy to tout your sales volume, but it doesn’t mean much unless you share what you spend on leads, technology, marketing and everything else to run your business.

I’ve done the math — I come out ahead at Redfin every time

I have no expenses whatsoever. Redfin covers all of my mileage, my phone bill, MLS and association dues, and licensing costs. I don’t pay for leads or personal marketing. All of my listings get professional photography, a 3-D scan and digital and social media marketing as part of our standard practice. Redfin covers it all.

Redfin provides all the technology I need, which is lightyears ahead of what any other broker provides. I don’t have to manage a professional website, design postcards, create brochures, launch marketing campaigns or evaluate tech vendors. Redfin’s engineering, product and marketing teams work with agents to create the tools and services that we need and our clients want.

Redfin provides great health insurance for my family of five. I would have to spend about $36,000 a year to cover my family if I was self-employed, and we probably wouldn’t have the same quality of coverage we have now. I have a 401k. I get paid sick and vacation days.

It’s more than a paycheck — it’s a mission

But beyond my income and benefits, I love being a part of something bigger than myself. I believe in the mission to redefine real estate in the consumers favor.

I love our offbeat culture and the camaraderie in my office. In an office full of top producers, we don’t have big egos. We share advice, mentor new agents, swap stories and have a lot of fun.

Can’t we all just get along?

I have the utmost respect for agents who have built thriving businesses and careers at other firms. I wish our industry would drop the negativity about different models and embrace the fact that there are great agents at all types of brokerages and multiple paths to success.

Lynn Ikle real estate agent with Redfin in Maryland. Connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter





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