After broadly suspending homebuying nationwide in the face of a global health crisis, Opendoor is cautiously returning to two markets this week and next week with new tools designed to allow consumers to safely sell their homes.
The company is introducing “Sell Direct,” a contact-free way to sell instantly to Opendoor, and “Home Reserve,” a method to reserve and move into a new home while Opendoor tries to sell the old home. The tools launched Monday in Phoenix and will debut May 11 in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.
“Life has changed, but our mission at Opendoor has not,” Opendoor CEO Eric Wu wrote in a blog post. “Over the past few months, we’ve focused our time on listening to home shoppers and buyers.”
“People still have a need for a home with an extra bedroom, a bigger backyard, or in a better school district,” Wu added. “And we’ve heard loud and clear that safety is the number one priority.”
Opendoor suspended homebuying in mid-March, citing safety concerns. Multiple homesellers reached out to Inman at the time of the initial article’s publication to report that Opendoor canceled contracts.
In the wake of the suspension of home buying, the well-funded startup laid off 35 percent of its staff, or approximately 600 employees.
Opendoor’s competitors Zillow, Offerpad and Redfin also suspended the homebuying portion of their business around the same time due to the spread of COVID-19 and many states temporarily banning in-person real estate activity.
But Opendoor is the first to return to homebuying — publicly at least.
Through “Sell Direct,” Opendoor says it will give homeowners the certainty of a home sale without the, “hassles of listings, open houses or repairs,” which essentially mirrors the promise all iBuyers provide.
“But most importantly, we’re providing a digital and safe experience for everyone involved,” Wu added. “A direct sale to Opendoor now includes a virtual interior home assessment, eliminating any in-person contact. Our commitment to our customers is to be the safest, easiest, and most certain sale.”
The company is also introducing, “Home Reserve,” where Opendoor will purchase and reserve a customer’s next home on their behalf with an all-cash offer, enabling homeowners to move into their new home while safely listing and selling their current home.
“For homeowners looking to buy and sell at the same time, we’re launching a new service, Home Reserve, so our customers can list their current home on the open market and buy their dream home without a double mortgage or a double move,” Wu wrote.
The final new platform launch from Opendoor is aimed at benefitting homebuyers. The company updated its self-touring system to allow home shoppers to see home virtually through a live video tour. The self-tour app, where buyers can unlock and tour vacant homes through the company’s app, will also ensure there’s only one buyer visiting a home at a time.
The self-touring updates will be available in Phoenix, Los Angeles, Dallas and Riverside with additional cities in the coming weeks.
“When buyers find a home they love, they can handle the offer and purchase process completely online,” Wu wrote. “We believe this is the future of how people will buy and sell a home.”
“We are energized this is happening sooner than we expected,” Wu added. “So as of today, I am thankful for that feeling that we are going to change an industry and deliver on our mission.”