• GoldenKey now jumping on the 'instant offer' trend, marking a new direction for the fee-for-service startup.

GoldenKey, a marketplace where consumers can hire agents to work for flat fees, has launched a network of “instant offer” investors to help agents double-end deals.

Through the startup’s “GoldenDeal” service, agents can collect offers from giant rental investors to present to homeowners before listing their properties on the MLS.

The new venture is a bid to help agents capitalize on the “instant offer” trend — whereby consumers receive quick offers from high-tech investors — and it marks a new direction for a startup that continues to try to popularize a low-fee service model.

“It keeps the agent in the center of the process,” said GoldenKey CEO Tommy Sowers, who describes GoldenDeal as an agent-friendly version of Zillow Instant Offers.

“Why wouldn’t you try this? Why wouldn’t you expose the listing to this group?”

How the marketplace works

To use GoldenDeal, agents or real estate investors enter an asking price, days available for bidding and basic property information to receive offers from a handful of investors in as little as 48 hours.

“Thank you for joining the network where you can double end every deal,” agents are told when they initiate an offer request.

Sowers said participating investors include some of the largest institutional single-family rental owners. Citing non-disclosure agreements, he declined to name any. But he noted that Invitation Homes and Tricon American Homes are among the biggest single-family rental investors.

Zillow Instant Offers presents CMAs (comparative market analyses) from agents alongside bids from investors. But the homeowner decides whether to use an agent or sell to an investor without representation.

GoldenDeal, on the other hand, is not built to be used by homeowners. It’s designed for two groups of professionals:

  • Real estate agents who want to get pre-MLS bids for clients
  • Small investors who want to offload their rental properties to big ones

That said, if homeowners independently requested offers through the tool, they still might receive bids, Sowers explained. A pilot of the program has led to a dozen closed or pending deals so far.

GoldenDeal can be a valuable service to sellers who want to close fast or — for whatever reason — don’t want to market their home to all potential buyers, Sowers said.

If nothing else, agents can use the service to give clients some sense of how much their home might sell for on the open market, he reckons.

“If the offer isn’t good enough, and you want to try it on the MLS, then it just rolls into the MLS,” he said.

GoldenDeal’s partner investors prefer that agents only request offers for homes owned by clients. But they could still choose to request bids for the purpose of presenting them to prospective clients, Sowers said.

“Wouldn’t it be nice to show up to a listing presentation with a cash offer in hand?” he said.

Unlike some other instant offer investors, GoldenDeal partner investors don’t charge a service fee to homeowners, and they won’t make “lowball” bids, Sowers claims. Sellers who accept offers from GoldenDeal partner investors only will pay a commission to their agent.

Some people in the industry frown upon agents who sell homes off the MLS, arguing that the practice denies a homeowner the opportunity to attract the highest possible offer. Skeptics say agents use the strategy to double their paycheck, not to serve the best interests of their clients.

Beyond fee-for-service

GoldenDeal marks a new direction for GoldenKey.

The startup’s core business continues to connect consumers with agents who will service clients for much less than the typical 2.5 to 3 percent commission split.

GoldenDeal, meanwhile, can tee up agents to walk away with a 6 percent commission all for themselves. That’s twice the traditional commission split and vastly more than the cost of GoldenKey service packages.

“Reminder: you stand to earn 6 percent, or $12,000 as the agent in this deal,” reads a sample GoldenDeal offer. “This same deal on the MLS would only earn you $6,000 with only buy-side commission!”

GoldenKey’s legacy services marketplace is “an exclusive network of agents who want to do both traditional and fee-for-service,” Sowers said. “That universe is an exclusive network, much smaller than the universe of all agents.”

But GoldenDeal, he said, “is an inclusive network where any agent can source a deal and pre-list it.”

Email Teke Wiggin.

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