iBuyers: The “Cost of Convenience” When Selling Your Home

Dated: August 29 2019

Views: 51

When thinking about selling their house, homeowners have many options. A relatively new option is using an “iBuyer.” What is an iBuyer?

According to Jovio, the definition is:

“A company or investor that uses Automated Valuation Models (AVMs) to make instant offers on homes. It allows sellers to close on a property quickly. Once sold, the company then turns around and resells the home for a profit.”

Today, there are many iBuyer companies such as OfferPadZillow OffersKnockOpendoor, and Perch. Even some more traditional companies offer the same or similar services (ex. Keller WilliamsRedfinRealogy). Ivy Zelman reported in her ‘Z’ Report that some traditional brokers are partnering with some of the larger iBuyers too:

“Keller Williams announced a partnership with Offerpad, aligning the largest franchise-based brokerage brand in the U.S. with the five-year-old iBuyer. The move follows Realogy’s partnership with Home Partners of America last year as an established brokerage player more directly providing an iBuyer alternative…

Likewise, in early July, Redfin and Opendoor announced a partnership, starting in Phoenix and Atlanta – aligning interests of the 13-year old, tech-enabled and value-focused brokerage with the largest and longest-standing iBuyer. Outside of these larger scale alliances, Zillow’s strategy has been to work with local brokerages as partners on a market-by-market basis.”

Does it make sense to sell your home to an iBuyer?

It depends. Collateral Analytics recently released a study which revealed the advantages and disadvantages of using an iBuyer. According to the study, if the homeowner is looking for the convenience of a quick sale with less uncertainty, using an iBuyer may make sense.

“iBuyers offer quicker closings for sellers who would like to avoid the uncertainty of knowing when and if their home will sell. For motivated sellers who want a predictable sale date and need to move, perhaps a long distance from the current location, there is no question that iBuyers have provided a welcome alternative to traditional brokerage.”

The study, however, also showed there is a cost for that convenienceCollateral Analytics explained:

Traditional brokers fees generally range from 5% to 7% of the sales price…In addition to this cost, buyers typically pay some closing costs including lender related charges in the range of 1% to 3%.”

In contrast:

“iBuyers charge sellers a ‘convenience fee’ of 6% to 9.5%, some also charge the seller for fees typically paid by buyers at closing adding another 1% or more. Most iBuyers will inspect the home, assess a generous home repair allowance and negotiate a (an additional) credit to handle such repairs…Overall the total direct costs, ignoring repair credits, will run 7% to 10% for an iBuyer, versus the typical 5% to 9% combined seller and buyer costs with a traditional broker. Yet, that is not the end of the story or comparison.”

The study went on to explain how iBuyers need to charge even more because they have additional expenses beyond that of the traditional broker. They include:

  1. Carrying costs involving significant amounts of capital – The iBuyer must pay the expenses of the house between the time they purchase it and the time they sell it to a new buyer.
  2. Safeguarding the home risks – A home with an iBuyer ‘For Sale Sign’ alerts anyone passing that the house is vacant. The study suggests that these homes could become targets for vagrants and criminals.
  3. Adverse selection risks – The study explains that since iBuyers use computer models to determine their offer, they may be unaware of certain challenges in the neighborhood that could adversely impact the value.
  4. Potential home price declines – As the survey states:

A downturn in home prices, not forecast by the iBuyer market analysts could be devastating as they ramp up their business platforms, particularly if the cost of capital increases. At the same time, downturns are precisely when the most sellers would want this option.”

Bottom Line

After taking a thorough look at the iBuyer platform, the study concludes that using an iBuyer is more expensive for the homeowner than the traditional brokerage model, but for some sellers, it may still make sense:

Blog author image

Curtis Johnson

Curtis is a Best Selling Author, the Founder and CEO of The Curtis Johnson Team Powered By eXp Realty, where he runs a dynamic Real Estate Team having sold 5,000 residential homes. The Wall Street Jou....

Latest Blog Posts

our House May Be High on the Buyer Wish List This Holiday Season

Your House May Be High on the Buyer Wish List This Holiday SeasonAround this time each year, many homeowners decide to wait until after the holidays to sell their houses. Similarly, others who

Read More

Is it okay to list my house for sale in this Pandemic?

Is it Safe to Sell My House Right Now?In today’s real estate market, the buzz is all about how it’s a great time to sell your house. Buyer demand is high, and there simply aren

Read More

Mortgage Outlook for 2021

Will Mortgage Rates Remain Low Next Year?In 2020, buyers got a big boost in the housing market as mortgage rates dropped throughout the year. According to Freddie Mac, rates hit all-time lows

Read More

Low Inventory is a Win for Sellers!!

The number of houses for sale today is significantly lower than the high buyer activity in the current housing market. According to Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the 

Read More