Texas-based power buyer Homeward has launched in Florida, its first new market in 2022 and the second market in its ambitious 20-market expansion plan announced last year. Homeward is concentrating its efforts in Miami and Tampa, although the platform’s flagship services are available to agents and their clients across the state.
“Miami real estate agents and their clients — like so many major metros in the U.S. — are facing unprecedented challenges in regards to rising prices, competitive inventory, and an investor-dominated market,” Homeward CEO and Founder Tim Heyl said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to partner with agents and clients in Miami to provide a solution that will make homebuying a reality for more people.”
“By turning the traditional buyer into a cash buyer, we’re answering the question agents are facing on a daily basis – how can I buy a home in this market?” he added. “We’re enabling agents to change the conversation and, in turn, help their clients purchase their next home.”
Founded in 2018, Homeward caters to homebuyers with cash backing and buy-before-you-sell options. The company also ventured into mortgage and title services with Homeward Mortgage and Homeward Title, both of which are also now available in Florida.
To get a Homeward Cash Offer, homebuyers must go through an approval process that sets their budget. Once a seller accepts the buyer’s Homeward-backed cash offer, homebuyers must pay an earnest money deposit, schedule an inspection and sign mortgage disclosure documents. Homeward will close on the home in as little as 14 days, which enables buyers to move into their new abode. While they secure the mortgage to purchase the home back from Homeward, buyers will be charged a prorated rental fee that’s due at closing.
The company’s buy-before-you-sell option works in a similar fashion, with homesellers-turned-homebuyers having a six-month rental option while they sell their previous home. Homeward said the rental average for buy-before-you-sell clients is 45 days, with the prorated rental fee due at closing. If a homeseller isn’t able to sell within six months, Homeward will purchase the home.
“We’re really focused on how to expand our services into additional markets,” Heyl said of Homeward’s Florida launch. “After successfully optimizing and scaling not just our product, but our support teams to meet agent and client demand, we’re ready and excited to support new markets like Miami.”
Homeward’s move into Florida comes a year after its largest-ever funding round, which included $136 million in equity and $235 million in debt. The company used the $371 million to fuel several growth goals, namely a 20-market expansion plan that’s nearly four times as large as its previous expansion push in 2019.
“We’ve been learning, we’ve been testing and we’ve been refining,” Heyl told Inman in November. “We’ve really gotten to learn how homebuyers use Homeward in different states, how real estate agents use Homeward in different states, and we’ve gotten to modify and refine our overall experience to match varying ways of buying real estate across state lines.”
Homeward Chief Real Estate Officer Brian Gubernick said Homeward’s focus in Florida is helping agents and their clients effectively compete in a market dominated by institutional investors.
“In competitive markets like Tampa, the traditional buyer is fighting to be considered alongside big investors that have the cash and ability to scoop up the limited inventory available,” he said. “[And in] Miami real estate agents and their clients are fatigued from the endless competition of the last few years, with no relief in sight. In March alone, 64 percent of properties in Miami received multiple offers.”
“Sellers aren’t just looking for the highest offer — they’re looking for the strongest offer that they can rely on not to fall through,” he added. “By eliminating the finance, home sale, and appraisal contingencies, we’re giving our Homeward clients the key to winning an offer without sacrificing their peace of mind. On the flip side, sellers are able to close swiftly and smoothly without worrying about financing falling through.”
Although the market is red-hot right now, Gubernick said Homeward is aware of market headwinds including rising mortgage rates and the heightened risk of a potential recession. Even so, Gubernick said Homeward remains confident in its value proposition to agents and their clients.
“As [the market] becomes a little less competitive, as it has to — that’s just the way real estate cycles work — we know our cash may not be used for competitive scenarios like it is today,” he said. “But it will be used as the way we’ve always used cash in the real estate world, which is to negotiate better terms and to put your buyer in a better position from a negotiating standpoint.”
Gubernick said Homeward invests heavily in education and training throughout all of its markets, so agents can effectively explain the benefits of power buying to their clients no matter the market. Because Homeward doesn’t market directly to consumers, he said, the company can direct its resources to “going deep” with brokerage partners.
“We want to spend time in a market and penetrate that market, but the way we penetrate that market is to continually educate agents as to best practices and how to market the programs,” he said. “Then the agents in turn are doing the job in terms of educating the consumer and educating the public.”
“We work through the agent to accomplish that [consumer education], and again, we’re only successful if the agents are successful,” he added of Homeward’s agent support. “And that’s a little bit longer-term time. While we can easily spread Homeward’s name across the nation, our strategy instead is to be more calculated.”
Now that Homeward’s Florida operations are up and running, Gubernick said the team has its sights on launches in Oregon and Washington, which are also fertile ground for power buying.
“It’s a hyper-competitive market in [PNW] in that there are multiple offers on properties [and] there’s a large number of realtors that have to compete and be able to their display value,” he said. “The days of the Realtor showing up and just saying, ‘Hey, here’s my marketing plan, and here’s what I charge,’ are far behind us.”
“Agents need to show up when they’re meeting with clients and provide that client with a menu of options,” he added. “So it’s a great spot for us as Homeward to expand our business.”