Owners.com snapped up by online auction platform operator

For-sale-by-owner firm acquired for up to $27M by Altisource

The operator of online auction platform Hubzu.com, Altisource Portfolio Solutions, has acquired the for-sale-by-owner portal Owners.com, a provider of flat-fee MLS listing services that Altisource says will help it cater to the “fast-growing” market of home sellers seeking limited services.

Altisource paid $20 million for Owners.com, plus up to $7 million in earnouts based on the next two years’ revenue. Owners.com will operate alongside Hubzu.com, and its management and employees have joined Altisource.

The acquisition “allows us to combine the expertise we offer the online home auction industry through Hubzu with an innovative residential sales model to create a unique, best-in-class real estate e-commerce engine,” said Altisource CEO William Shepro in a statement.

Owners.com claims to be the largest flat-fee MLS network in the U.S., and says its affiliate brokerage, Owners Realty Inc., ranks among the largest listing brokerages in California and “many other states.” In 2013, consumers listed about 35,000 properties for sale on Owners.com with an aggregate asking price of around $11.5 billion, according to Altisource.

“As the real estate market continues to evolve, this acquisition puts us in a strong position to work with real estate agents, homebuyers and home sellers to deliver value through the fast-growing, limited-service home sales market,” Shepro said.

Over the last two years, online real estate marketplace Hubzu.com has grown from an auction platform for real estate owned (REO) properties serving only lenders and investors into one that accommodates a wider range of players involved in home sales, like real estate agents and consumers.

Altisource’s purchase of Owners.com will feed that growth.

“Clearly, through the acquisition, there’s an intention to bring consumer-facing capability forward,” said Barbara Goose, global chief marketing officer at Altisource.

Integrating Hubzu.com’s auction platform with Owners.com in some manner seems a likely way Altisource may accomplish this. Such integration would allow homeowners to put their properties up for auction online, in addition to listing them on the multiple listing service (MLS), a service currently offered by Owners.com.

“The auction capability is a relevant capability down the road, certainly for owners,” Goose said, when asked about that possibility.

Goose also said Altisource might evaluate integration opportunities including merging Hubzu.com and Owners.com into one site.

The acquisition marks Altisource’s latest bid to expand its footprint in residential real estate. In August, Altisource purchased loan servicer software provider Equator for $70 million.