IBuyers are closer than ever to profitability. But the overwhelming majority of profits are coming from record home price appreciation, which is temporary and appears to be falling.

This post has been republished with permission from Mike DelPrete.

U.S. iBuyers are closer than ever to profitability. Offerpad just posted a profitable quarter, and if stock-based compensation is excluded, so did Opendoor. But the overwhelming majority of profits are coming from record home price appreciation, which is temporary and appears to be falling.

Home price appreciation (HPA) has always been a component of an iBuyer’s gross profit; it is the spread between the purchase and resale price of a home. And it’s significant: In Q2 2021, home price appreciation accounted for 70 percent of Opendoor’s gross profit margin.

Over time, home price appreciation is becoming a larger component of Opendoor’s gross profit margin — rising from 50 percent in 2019 to 70 percent in Q2 2021.

What goes up must come down?

Home price appreciation rates are beginning to cool in major markets across the U.S., including Phoenix, where the median iBuyer home price appreciation has fallen 50 percent since May. Opendoor’s median home price appreciation for homes sold in August is just 2.7 percent, down a massive 75 percent from 10.7 percent in May.

The decline will certainly have a material impact on iBuyer gross profit margins, which have reached record highs during 2021.

Opendoor’s gross margins have increased an impressive 700 basis points, from 6.4 percent to 13.4 percent, between 2019 and Q2 2021. But 84 percent of that improvement is from rising home price appreciation (3 percent → 9.2 percent).

Strategic implications

Gross profit margin includes an iBuyer’s service fees, home price appreciation, and repair costs (and in the case of Opendoor and Offerpad, it also includes revenue from ancillary services like title insurance, mortgage and brokerage services).

The iBuyers’ recent profitability is being driven by record home price appreciation — a temporary artifact of a hot housing market. As the market eases off its red hot highs, slowing price appreciation may have an adverse affect on iBuyer profit margins.

Mike DelPrete is a strategic adviser and global expert in real estate tech, including Zavvie, an iBuyer offer aggregator. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

iBuyers | Offerpad | Opendoor
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