What’s the most profitable way to sell a house if you live in Phoenix, one of the nation’s most frenetic iBuyer hubs?
What about if you live in New York City, which has no iBuyers?
Or if you live in Dallas, or Atlanta, or Los Angeles, or Cleveland, which all have their own very unique conditions and housing stocks?
The answer to those questions is almost infinitely varied and depends not just on the city, but also on property type and the goal behind the sale. In other words, it’s often really difficult to figure out the most profitable way to sell a house.
A new company, however, wants to change that by becoming a kind of Kayak.com for real estate offers.
Sold.com, which had a soft launch in October but was officially unveiled today, describes itself as an “educational resource” and “recommendation engine” for people considering selling their homes. Company CEO Matt Woods told Inman that the idea is to aggregate all of the different options that homesellers have into one place so they can make the best decision. The company serves the entire U.S. and was born out of the idea that homesellers have an ever-increasing number of options but also very little assistance when searching for the best one.
“The market is disrupting in some really interesting ways, but the consumer is confused by it,” Woods said. “Every survey that we’ve done, people still don’t understand what an iBuyer is. At the end of the day we thought this is a really interesting opportunity to play intermediary.”
Users who visit Sold.com fill out a short questionnaire about their property, reasons for moving, and financial goals for the sale. The company then emails the user a report that recommends different selling options, such as using a traditional agent or going to an iBuyer.
When this reporter tested the system using an address in the Los Angeles area, Sold.com recommended using a traditional agent, but also included an “alternative broker” option.
Woods said the company serves the entire U.S., meaning that it is making recommendations for markets that are saturated with tech-enabled startups, such as Phoenix and Atlanta, as well as areas such as the Northeast that have been significantly more resistant to disruptive real estate companies. The recommendations are produced by an algorithm that utilizes machine learning and, according to a company statement, “thousands of data points.”
The recommendations are limited to companies and agents with which Sold.com has relationships. Those include Purplebricks, Homie, REX, RedfinNow and many others. Woods said there are “thousands” of agents in the system, though they have been added by “invitation only” based on sales performance.
Both companies and agents that work with Sold.com pay what Woods described as “industry standard” referral fees. Agents cannot buy listings and Sold.com does not offer any “pay-to-play” services. Woods said that the goal is to provide “unbiased” recommendations regardless of which company partners ultimately benefit.
The referral fees finance Sold.com, and the company does not charge consumers for home reports or for the chance to talk to a member of the company’s concierge service.
Sold.com’s founders and board of directors include past leaders from Auction.com, LendingTree, Money360 and other companies. In the past,Woods founded a mortgage company and prior to joining Sold.com worked at loanDepot.
Woods did not say how much money Sold.com currently has to work with, but did explain that “we are bootstrapping this ourselves.” The company has not accepted venture capital, though may consider doing so in the future.
“What we wanted to do is self-fund this until it makes sense to say ‘this is working the way we thought,'” Woods added.
Woods described the ideal customer for Sold.com as a homeowner who is early in the process of potentially selling and not yet working with an agent. He also said the company is not trying to undermine the long-standing brokerage business model, noting that iBuying and other disruptors are limited to certain pockets of the country. In many cases, he added, the most profitable selling option is “still going to be traditional agents.”
Sold.com is not the only company trying to aggregate potential outcomes from an increasingly complicated selling landscape. In the Phoenix area, OfferDepot provides a similar service and has also been compared to travel aggregation sites like Expedia or Kayak. But unlike Sold.com, OfferDepot only serves parts of Arizona.
However, the rise of both companies suggests there is demand for services that help consumers decipher the fragmenting real estate market. Woods said that Sold.com’s experience so far also bears that thesis out: Since the company’s soft launch in October, “many thousands” of people have visited the website and taken the home report quiz to explore their options. Woods did not provide an exact number of users, but added that the company’s “pipeline is really starting to convert to listings.”
“The question was, is this business and is this value proposition resonating with homeowners?'” Woods added. “Are they clicking over to it? The answer has been a resounding ‘yes.’ There’s definitely an appetite for this.”