Zillow launched a new service in Denver on Monday that will give home sellers the option of having the online real estate company make cash offers on their homes.
The Zillow Offers program is promoted as a low-hassle alternative for sellers, one that allows them to skip sprucing up a property, avoid showings and gain more control over the timing of a closing.
“The Denver housing market is changing quickly, and many homeowners are trying to time the sale of their home with the purchase of a new one. Rising inventory can make the timing of a sale more uncertain, making Zillow Offers even more desirable,” Jeremy Wacksman, Zillow brand president, said in a news release.
Someone looking to sell their home can click a tab on the company’s web page and ask for an offer. Zillow, which is primarily looking for homes in the middle-tier of the market, may decline or accept the request.
If it is interested in a home, the company will make a cash offer. If the seller is agreeable, Zillow will send someone to view the property and estimate needed repairs. If the seller accepts, he or she can set when the closing will happen.
For those who don’t get an offer or who reject the offer made, Zillow will make a referral to its network of “premier agents” to list the property, which in metro Denver include 8z Real Estate, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Innovative Real Estate and RE/MAX Alliance.
An initial worry was that Zillow would cut out traditional real estate brokers. But the company insists it will pay a commission to local real estate agents when it goes to resell a home it purchases.
“Zillow Offers is a unique and needed service for home sellers in Denver and will solve a huge problem that exists in the market right now — homeowners want convenience and certainty when selling their home,” said Jason Shepher, co-founder of Atlas Real Estate Group, which is working with Zillow to resell properties it acquires.
Seattle-based Zillow has hired a local real estate veteran, Sue Dolquist, as its general manager in Denver to supervise operations.
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A rival home offer service, Opendoor, launched in Denver on Oct. 16, under the direction of P.J. O’Neil.
“We’re already under contract on our first home, a $300,000 home in Aurora,” said Cristin Culver, a spokeswoman for Opendoor.
The larger brokerage community is watching both entrants closely. Zillow in particular has a close connection to consumers. Even if commissions aren’t reduced, the program has the potential to give Zillow more power and sway consumer behavior.
The market is showing signs of shifting away from the days when sales were easy to come by and buyers bid above listing prices, said Tony Carnesi, CEO of Keller Williams Realty DTC.
He and other agents argue the only way to avoid getting shortchanged is to put the home on the market, which is more important than ever if the market is softening.
“We will see how they do with that,” Carnesi said of Zillow Offers.