Leading iBuyer Opendoor will now allow buyers to make all-cash offers on any home while also offering them access to properties it owns before listing them on multiple listing services.
The perks are part of a new home-buying service that Opendoor announced in a blog post Thursday. The service will augment its iBuying platform, which allows homeowners to quickly sell their homes to Opendoor.
It marks a major step toward “Opendoor’s vision to deliver a frictionless, all-in-one home buying and selling experience,” an Opendoor spokesperson told Inman.
The new home-buying service is currently only available in Phoenix, Dallas-Fort Worth and Raleigh-Durham. Opendoor first dove into serving buyers who purchase non-Opendoor homes through its acquisition of Open Listings, a high-tech discount brokerage.
Opendoor has since folded Open Listings into its own brand. In Dallas-Fort Worth and Phoenix, Opendoor has been allowing buyers to use its mobile search app to search all MLS listings, not just the homes it owns. It also has been pairing buyers with “partner agents” who offer commission rebates. These partner agents pay referral fees to Opendoor if the Opendoor-referred buyer purchases a home.
Opendoor’s announcement represents an enhanced and expanded version of this service.
As part of the service, Opendoor will offer “pre-underwritten buyers the option of submitting a cash offer to the seller,” the Opendoor spokesperson said.
“This comes with no additional fee,” the spokesperson added. “Opendoor purchases the home on the buyer’s behalf and then transfers the home to them once their mortgage is funded. The buyer then owns the home and pays their mortgage.”
IBuyer Knock pioneered this type of service. And a few other startups, such as Perch, have put different spins on the concept.
If a cash offer “isn’t necessary,” Opendoor said in the blog post, it will rebate buyers up to 1 percent of the price of the home that they purchase. Customers who both sell their old home to Opendoor and buy a new one using the iBuyer can get 2 percent back in fees.
The 1 and 2 percent rebates are available to both buyers who purchase homes directly from Opendoor and buyers who work with an Opendoor “partner agent” to purchase any home on the market, regardless of whether it is owned by Opendoor.
Opendoor is also touting a “buyback guarantee,” in which it promises to buy a home within 90 days back from a buyer customer if they end up regretting their purchase. Opendoor previously only offered this guarantee to buyers who purchased its own homes, but now the iBuyer appears to have expanded its policy to cover any home one of its buyer customers purchases.
“Opendoor guarantees buyers will love the experience and purchase the home of their dreams at the best price, or we will buy the home back within 90 days,” its blog post says.
Those aren’t the only aspects of the new buying service that will perk up the ears of the industry.
Now Opendoor says it will offer buyers “exclusive access to Opendoor homes before they hit the market.” In other words, it has begun to market its homes before posting them with multiple listing services.
But the iBuyer will do this discreetly in order to abide by industry rules. It won’t show these listings on its mobile app.
“To comply with varying MLS regulations by market, only MLS-listed homes are browsable in the [Opendoor mobile] app, while “Coming Soon” listings are shared directly with Opendoor customers and local agents,” the Opendoor spokesperson said.
“We’re working to bring this feature in-app in future product updates and when we can do so in compliance with specific MLS requirements.”
Marketing homes off the MLS could increase Opendoor’s odds of selling more homes to buyers without having to pay typical commission rates to brokers from other brokerages, potentially saving it quite a chunk of change.
Finally, Opendoor said it is also now offering “self-tours” of all homes on the market — not only the homes that it owns itself.
The tours can be requested through Opendoor’s mobile search app, which displays both Opendoor and MLS listings from other brokerages (in markets where the new home-buying service has debuted, at least).
Buyers have long been able to use mobile devices to tour Opendoor-owned homes, which are vacant, without an agent present.
But what’s new is that the company is now claiming to offer “self-tours” for properties listed by other brokerages. The iBuyer pulls this off by dispatching licensed agents to open doors for buyers. The agents than step back, rather than show the home like a traditional agent.
“We have licensed agents in each market who facilitate self-tours on behalf of buyers,” the Opendoor spokesperson said. “They coordinate entry for the buyer requesting access; the buyer is not contracted with this agent. Opendoor-owned homes are still accessed via our automated system.”
Opendoor has increasingly found new ways to partner with agents at other brokerages. It not only will pair buyers with third-party agents. It also can pay referral fees to agents who send sellers who elect to sell directly to Opendoor. In some cases, it also will pay referral fees to listing agents who represent sellers in the sale of their home to Opendoor.
Earlier this month, the iBuyer announced a partnership with high-tech brokerage Redfin, in which buyers can request cash offers from Opendoor through Redfin’s website and mobile app.
It could be a lucrative one for Redfin. The brokerage receives referral fees from Opendoor both if the seller decides to sell directly to Opendoor, or if the seller decides to use a Redfin agent to sell to Opendoor.