The well-funded online homebuying and re-selling startup Opendoor has talked a lot about how new technology can improve real estate transactions, making them faster, less stressful, and more convenient.
But now the so-called iBuyer is promoting a program based on a much more traditional real estate fixture: agents. As of Tuesday, Opendoor has launched a new program to refer some of its seller clients to partner real estate agents outside of the company, specifically sellers whose properties fall outside of Opendoor’s requirements for issuing all-cash offers (Opendoor is one of a growing number of competing iBuyers, companies and real estate brokerages that are making all-cash offers to buy homes over the internet).
Opendoor’s new Agent Partner Program is the culmination of working with agents across the country for the past four years, according to a company blog post announcing the news.
“We’re looking to partner with highly-rated, trusted agents who we can pair with homebuyers and sellers when it is the customer’s best option,” the post reads.
“To start, when someone requests an offer on their home from Opendoor but it’s outside of our buy criteria, our brokerage will refer them to one of our Agent Partners,” the post continues. “Not only will this give homeowners peace of mind knowing they are in good hands, but it will provide a new way for agents to build their businesses with high-intent, high-converting leads.”
Opendoor’s buy parameters vary by market, but generally, the home needs to be valued between $100,000 and $500,000, have been built after 1960 and sit on a maximum lot size of one acre. Parameters may change at any time, depending on state and local regulations, according to the company.
The service of being connected to an agent partner comes at no cost to the consumer.
Agents that want to participate in the program don’t need to pay any upfront fees and instead pay Opendoor a referral fee upon closing the home sale. A spokesperson for Opendoor told Inman that the fee averages 1 percent of the property sale price, unless otherwise noted in the agreement.
The number of agents per market will be based on the demand of agent introductions in that market. The agent must be a full-time Realtor with an active license at a local brokerage, have 10 or more listing or buying transactions in the last year, have more than three years experience in their current market area, have positive reviews and ratings from previous clients and a strong track record of converting broker-to-broker referrals.
John DiCristo, a broker with Keller Williams Ballantyne Area in Charlotte, North Carolina, is one of the brokers who has participated in the testing of the platform.
“The quality of the referrals is very good,” DiCristo said, in a statement. “What I really like about them is that most people answer the phone and I have a good conversation with just about everybody.”
“Putting aside my sphere of influence, these are the best warm leads I’ve received from anywhere,” DiCristo added.
The move from Opendoor to start partnering with local agents to provide lead generation for buying services echoes what Zillow is doing with its own all-cash online homebuying and re-selling platform, Zillow Offers.
In every market where Zillow Offers operates, the real estate tech giant partners with local brokerages who are part of their Premier Agent advertising program to refer sellers who opt not take Zillow’s all-cash, quick-close offer and instead choose to list their home on the open market.
Lead generation tools to attract home sellers have long been elusive in an industry where there are a number of leading solutions to fish for buyers. It’s the main reason Anthony Lamacchia started his own iBuyer, to generate seller leads.
Opendoor has expanded its platform significantly in the past year, since acquiring Open Listings in September, a discount brokerage which helped buyers search, visit and make offers on homes while offering a 50 percent rebate on the buyer’s agent commission.
Opendoor integrated the two platforms in Dallas, where it’s also begun showing listings from rival brokerages on its mobile app. Through the app, a consumer could browse homes for sale, be connected with an agent through the partnership with Open Listings, get an offer on their current home from Opendoor and even be connected to a mortgage lender.
Opendoor, with that integration, is getting closer to offering consumers an all-in-one experience and this new platform will expand the selling component of that, allowing that same consumer to be connected with an agent in a scenario where Opendoor won’t buy their home.
The move also comes a month after Opendoor CEO Eric Wu spoke about automation in the real estate industry and noted that it was going to “take a little bit of time for agents to realize that actually the automation will happen, and their role is to be an adviser to the customer.”
Update: Updated with more information about the referral fee and qualifications for agents.