Finding success in Buying and Selling real estate // our go-to partner, personal Anecdotes, and free resources

Garrett and I sold our first home on the MLS last year and it went really well, even with the slowing real estate market in Seattle. One of the main reasons the sale went so smoothly was because we had Redfin - a Seattle-based real estate innovator - on our side. In the past 6 years, we've bought 3 homes, sold 1, and toured countless more with Redfin. Our experience with them has been so good that we approached Redfin about doing a sponsored post here on the Grit and Polish and we’re thrilled they agreed!

So today we're sharing why we use Redfin (a common question we received while selling the Ravenna house), as well as some personal anecdotes from our decade in real estate, insights into our successes, and our favorite free resources to help you with the buying and selling process. We hope you find this post helpful!

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Our Ravenna House renovation

*This post is sponsored by Redfin, a brand we use and believe in. All content, ideas, and words are our own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support the Grit and Polish.  

our craziest offer, ever

Our first offer with Redfin in 2012 was a real gem.…one of those accepting-offers-for-one-day crazy situations. I was at work when the listing popped up, so Garrett set up a tour with Redfin (our first time touring with them), saw the house with an agent named Robin, and put in an offer. The whole process took only a few hours and I signed electronically while still at work, never having seen the house! Although we didn't end up with the winning bid, we did win long-term partners in Redfin and Robin.

Together, we went on to buy the Bryant, Ravenna, and Dexter Houses. And that was quite the feat considering Ravenna was a cash-only sale with 11 offers on the table (and we weren't the highest). And Dexter was a short sale that required approval by the trustee, the courts, and the creditors.…an exhausting process that took almost 6 months.

Why We Chose Redfin In the First Place

Our first connection to Redfin was through their mobile app. It was (and still is) the best real estate search tool around, so if you aren't using it you should definitely give it a whirl. Also, it's totally free! The app makes it super easy to filter your search (pre-1955, fixer, Seattle, >30 days on's ok, you can copy my search terms 😉), set alerts for new listings, schedule tours, and submit offers. And anyone can use the app, whether you're a client of Redfin's or just keeping an eye on what's out there.

Redfin’s mobile app is the best real estate search tool around, so if you aren’t using it you should definitely give it a whirl. Also, it’s totally free!

Redfin was founded to shakeup the real estate industry through better alignment of incentives between clients and agents. This is the single biggest reason we originally decided to tour and offer with them. Redfin agents are compensated based on a feedback system and not the amount of the sale. The agents make the same money if you buy a home for $200K or $400K. What they are really gunning for is client satisfaction and we love this model. We feel like Redfin's out in front, blazing a trail toward a great deal, and we've happily jumped on board.

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our success with Ravenna

Quite honestly, the only reason we got the Ravenna House in the first place was because of Robin. She took our picture on the front steps of the Ravenna House (see that fateful photo below) and recommended we write a letter to the owner with the photo pasted on top. She presented our offer in the best possible light and the seller picked our offer, even though we couldn't match the highest offer.

Five years later, we sold the Ravenna House with Redfin and made $460,000 on the property.

Robin was promoted after we bought our 3rd house with her (no surprise!), but we were equally happy with the Redfin agents who helped us sell the Ravenna House (thanks Dorothy and Nicole!). In an uncertain market, with inventory stacking up and price drops becoming the norm, our property got a full-price, cash offer in 5 days. Sure, Garrett and I did a ton of work to get the property looking top notch (which was worth every second we spent on it!). But our agents helped us decide where to put that effort, came up with a price based on data and our comfort level, staffed 2 open houses, and pushed the property out to thousands of potential buyers looking in that area.

In an uncertain market, with inventory stacking up and price drops becoming the norm, our property got a full-price, cash offer in 5 days.

Some of you may remember that 2 other homes listed on the same street at the same time as our Ravenna House. Five months later only one of them has sold (just last week) and that was after price drops totaling six-figures. It kind of goes without saying, but a good real estate team is important!

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The industry standard fee for listing a home (in Seattle and many other places) is 3% of the sale price, but Redfin has a lower, 1% listing fee. When we sold the Ravenna House for $775,000 last year, we paid Redfin $7,750 for all their work, instead of the standard $23,250. That's a big difference for us! And every time we've bought with Redfin, they've shared the buyers commission, giving us money to jump start our renovations.

I noticed recently that Redfin is now offering a second selling commission option: 2% for full concierge service. That includes project management for repairs, deep cleaning, and staging. Garrett and I spent the better part of 6 weeks full-time preparing the Ravenna House for sale, so this seems like it would have been money well spent!

If you're interested in buying with Redfin, find out more here. And if you're looking to sell, you can find out more here.

making it easy

I’m not going to lie, selling a property is stressful. There’s staging, inspections, cleaning, showings, and the list goes on. But we were really impressed how streamlined Redfin made the whole experience. They have photographers, 3D video-ers, and and transaction assistants on staff to help with the every step of the way. Every transaction has an assistant assigned and that person provides all the documents, updates, and schedules everything you need to close on time. Our assistant for Ravenna, Bryan, was friendly, organized, timely, and I'd kill to have him as my own life assistant. Ha! Also ICYMI, Redfin announced an all digital transaction option, meaning no stack of 1000 papers to sign when you close.

Redfin knows what's up with the market because they are constantly analyzing a stream of data about searches, pricing, listing, closings, days on market, etc., etc. When we bought our Seattle properties and then listed Ravenna with Redfin, our agents turned that data into recommendations for us. We're data people and love having the numbers in our corner.

As promised, here is that first photo of Garrett and I (with a newborn Wilder) on the steps of the Ravenna House. And just below it is the last picture I took of the property before we closed on the sale.

In case this post has you looking for more info on buying and selling homes, here are a few FREE resources:

Resources for buying and selling homes

  • Use the Redfin app and website as a resource, whether or not you buy or sell with them. It's an awesome resource and it's FREE!

  • Our financial rules of thumb for buying homes and our post on buying real estate with financial gain in mind

  • Whoever you use as a real estate agent, make sure you trust them. Their goals should be aligned with yours.

  • Don't spend more than you can afford! Of course that's easier said than done, because how do you really know how much you can afford? I recommend starting by tracking your monthly expenses and developing a budget. Then plug your numbers into Redfin's tool here.

  • How we made top dollar on the sale of the Ravenna House and why we decided to sell the Ravenna House in the first place.

  • Know the market! Redfin has a blog with lots of information on the real estate climate. You can also search for local blogs, news, and ask other people that are buying/selling to get your finger on the pulse.

In case it isn't clear, we full-heartedly recommend Redfin, whether you're buying, selling, or just peeking at what's out there. We've long touted them to friends, and we're happy we got to share them with you today. But we'd love to hear from you. Are there any specific tips that have helped you succeed in real estate?