Austin-based real estate franchisor Keller Williams has been quietly testing an iBuyer program for more than a year in an undisclosed market. Darryl Frost, a spokesperson for Keller Williams told Inman the company has closed nearly 100 transactions. But it’s not ready to go to market and it’s still in the ideation stage.
“We understand that there’s a market for iBuyer type programs for providing quick options for specific sellers,” Frost told Inman. “And Keller Williams has had conversations with Opendoor and others as we sought the right model with iBuyers.”
Frost told Inman that, rather than just traditionally rolling the program out and seeing how consumers responded, Keller Williams decided first to test it out and get consumer feedback. When pressed by Inman, Frost declined to name the market.
“We’ve spent the past year learning what consumers really want and developing a program around those expectations,” Frost said.
OfferDepot, a service run by the Keller Williams Kenny Klaus Team franchise in Phoenix, Arizona, is an iBuyer-like program operating since late 2017, in which agents solicit offers from other fast-cash online homebuying startups on behalf of their client (Offerpad, Opendoor and Zillow Offers are all fast-cash homebuyers active in Phoenix).
Frost would not confirm if Keller Williams corporate was involved in setting up or backing this program, nor if OfferDepot was the test program to which he was referring.
Throughout its test, Keller Williams has discovered that there’s a lot of confusion around which iBuyer program is best for consumers and that agents are still central to the home selling process.
“What we’ve found, with so many iBuyer options on the market, the promise of an easy button sale by so many has caused increased customer confusion around which program is best for their specific situation,” Frost said. “Through our test market, we have confirmed that consumers want an agent to help them through all their options available.”
The next step for Keller Williams is to send the program through its KW Labs process, by which the company develops its technology platforms alongside its associates.
Frost said that, at this time, the company is declining to get into operational specifics of the iBuyer program and whether or not it would be Keller Williams buying the houses with its capital or whether it would be with an outside investor or another iBuyer like Opendoor – which just this morning received an additional $400 million in venture capital funding. Other, smaller brokerages have worked with Opendoor.
If Keller Williams does eventually bring OfferDepot to a national launch, or a different iBuyer program, it will join an increasingly crowded space. Zillow has invested heavily into Zillow Offers, which now operates in three markets, Redfin recently announced it would be putting more money behind its iBuyer program, Redfin Now, and brokerage holdings giant Realogy announced this week it would be launching its own iBuyer program.