Detroit-based In-House Realty — a sister company to lending giant Quicken Loans — announced on Wednesday the purchase of ForSaleByOwner.com for $2.5 million. The online marketplace that exclusively features “for sale by owner” listings was previously owned by media conglomerate Tronc.
“We are in relentless pursuit of eliminating the complexities and stress that can sometimes accompany buying or selling a home,” said Doug Seabolt, CEO of In-House Realty in a press release.
In-House Realty plans to introduce an integrated platform that will combine home search tools and connect consumers with a mortgage through Quicken Loans’ Rocket Mortgage as well as a real estate agent through its referral network. Quicken Loans is the no. 1 mortgage lender in the country by volume.
Seabolt said it will be the “least-stressful end-to-end home buying and home selling experience found anywhere.”
Details on the platform that Seabolt teased are premature, but he’s promising an end-to-end solution that he hopes will eliminate someone of the confusion over all the steps involved with buying a home.
“The reality is, anybody that has bought or sold a home — it can be a stressful situation,” he said. “It can be confusing to consumers.”
He added, “We are really lasered in on eliminating the confusion and stress.”
The acquisition could be good news for real estate agents looking to get their hands on “for sale by owner” listings, or connect buyers they represent with these listings. In-House Realty, which operates as an agent referral network — that it says boasts 25,000 agents — said in a release that it sees a natural synergy between the ForSaleByOwner.com platform and its own agent network.
“Many start the selling process on their own and many are successful at it, but then there are others that don’t want to go through everything there is and they will oftentimes look to a professional real estate agent to help them out,” Seabolt told Inman.
Both In-House Realty and Quicken Loans are subsidiaries of parent company Rock Holdings Inc. Seabolt said from a family of companies perspective, the acquisition made sense.
“People that are selling a house are often going to be buying another home,” he said. “They’re going to need mortgages.People that are buying the homes need mortgages, they all need title insurance and if they need agents we can help them there too.”
According to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), In-House Realty agreed to purchase, at minimum, $4.5 million in advertising from Tronc — formerly Tribune Media — which owns the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times and the New York Daily News, among other publications.
Tronc purchased the site in 2006. At the time, it averaged more than 1.6 million monthly users. The site now claims it has more than 3 million monthly users. SEC filings associated with the sale say ForSaleByOwner.com posted a net loss of $149,000 over the first quarter of 2018. In an annual company report, Tronc said the site no longer fit in its overall digital strategy.
The acquisition is Rock Holding’s latest push into the financial and real estate technology sector. In the past 18 months, it has acquired the Toronto-based OpenHouse and its proprietary technology platform, as well as LowerMyBills and ClassesUSA, both Los Angeles-based online marketing service providers.
The move comes at a time of consolidation and expansion within the mortgage and real estate industries more broadly. With the collapse of the subprime mortgage lending market, lenders appear to be attempting to go directly to consumers and homebuyers to get more business. Meanwhile, companies including loanDepot’s mello brand have started to offer their own agent referral networks and plan to offer home services.