Real Estate News

Zillow won’t just give you an estimate; now it might buy your home

Zillow, a leading online marketplace for real estate listings, will now do more than just showcase your house or condo. If conditions are right, the company will buy it, too.

First launched in Phoenix in 2018, the Zillow Offers program came to Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties Monday. It claims to be the first i-buyer in the region.

Thousands of South Florida houses and condos were eligible for cash offers as of Monday, said a company spokesman. More will be added in the weeks to come.

“Today’s homeowner wants an on-demand real estate experience that’s seamless and hassle free,” said Zillow Offers President Jeremy Wacksman. “The process of selling is daunting, disrupting and uncertain. This is a door to allow you to solve a lot of those problems.”

Condos and houses that may be eligible will find a button on the Zillow site allowing them to seek an offer. If the home meets Zillow’s purchase profile, the owners will receive an all-cash offer that allows the owners to set the closing date within a 90-day window and eliminates the need for staging, open houses or repairs.

But how close that offer comes to the “Zestimate” — the site’s computer-generated estimate of your home’s value that, many argue, is not realistic — depends on variables including the accuracy of the public-records information for the home, its condition and input from a local Realtor.

Zillow charges a service fee that nationwide has averaged 7.5 percent, excluding the cost of any repairs, the company said. That’s about 1.5 percent above a traditional Realtor transaction.

The online company is partnering with Fort Lauderdale-based Realtor Laurie Finkelstein Reader, whose team will personally visit homes that have requested offers and met Zillow’s initial screening.

The site is focusing its offers on newer homes priced around the median, said Wacksman — not the luxury sector. In Miami-Dade, the median price for a single-family home is $360,000; the median price for an existing condominium is $247,000, according to the Miami Association of Realtors. In Broward, the median price for a single-family home is $365,000 versus $175,000 for a condo.

Since launching the service, 170,000 homeowners have requested cash offers, according to Zillow. “That big topline number tells that this is the way homeowners want to start their journey.”

As of June 30, the company had purchased only 3,119 homes.

“In these early days, we’re being very selective,” said Wacksman.

And not every inquiring homeowner is ready for an offer, he said. Some are simply doing research. Those who decide they want to work with a traditional broker will be referred if they don’t already have an agent; Zillow gets a referral fee but would not disclose the percentage.

South Florida is the 16th market for Zillow Offers. It plans to expand to 26 by mid-2020. Seattle-based Zillow Inc. is publicly traded on the Nasdaq exchange under the symbol Z.

For Reader, a 22-year real estate veteran, the partnership with Zillow represents a meeting of the minds. “Everything we do begins with the consumer; we want them to be customers for life. As I’ve gotten to know Zillow over the years, I felt we were in alignment. They are all about the consumer and giving them options they don’t currently have. “

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