Photo: Michael Wyke / Contributor
Companies that make instant online offers to buy homes directly from sellers, known as iBuyers, stopped buying homes in March as the pandemic worsened. Now Opendoor has resumed, touting its open house-free sales process as a way to maintain social distance.
The real estate startup’s founder, Eric Wu, announced on the company’s blog that the move would provide “a digital and safe experience … eliminating any in-person contact.” Opendoor in the past would send over an inspector to evaluate a property before closing on the home. Now that step will be conducted virtually.
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The move signals a degree of confidence in the market. Because iBuyers intend to resell the homes they buy, it’s important they correctly estimate holding times, improvement costs and how much the homes will sell for so they can cover the holding costs.
Opendoor has also moved into the capital-intensive business of helping customers purchase their next homes before selling their current ones. The startup will purchase a home on a family’s behalf, allowing them to move before selling their current, empty home on the market. If the listed home does not sell within four months, Opendoor will offer to purchase it, freeing up funds for the clients to buy the home they’ve moved into. A similar model was introduced to the Houston area in November by Austin startup Homeward.
To make it easier for prospective buyers of Opendoor-owned homes to avoid social contact, the company has rolled out virtual tours of all of the homes it lists for sale.