Over the last decade, agents have been squeezed by the proliferation of online listings portals and automated valuation models. Now, with well-funded “iBuyers” poised to tighten the screws and reduce the agents’ role in the homebuying process, some brokers are fighting back against automation.
Speaking at a Silicon Valley conference called Startup Grind, Opendoor CEO Eric Wu revealed that the iBuying company had removed the “Buy It Now” button from its website and app, following complaints from realtors outside the firm, Inman reported.
The button was originally introduced in 2017 to allow customers to purchase homes Opendoor was selling.
“The reality was that there were a lot of Realtors still in the system, and they kind of view their role as negotiations, so even though we had this ‘buy now’ button, people still wanted to negotiate the price,” Wu said during an on-stage interview at the conference, according to Inman.
Opendoor’s “See Buying Options” button still allows customers choose from two other options: “Get introduced to a top local agent,” or “Buy with your own agent.”
Nonetheless, Wu said that agents would need to accept that their role in transactions will change as the process becomes increasingly automated.
“[It]’s going to take a little bit of time for agents to realize that actually the automation will happen, and their role is to be an adviser to the customer,” Wu said.
In September, Opendoor landed $400 million in funding from Japanese conglomerate SoftBank. The company also acquired Open Listings, a discount brokerage that offers homebuyers a 50 percent rebate on a buyer’s agent commission. The move allowed Opendoor to employ buyer’s agents and work with agents from other brokerages.
Opendoor is competing with established real estate tech giants like Redfin and Zillow, and franchise brokerage Keller Williams is also making a push into the home buying and flipping space. [Inman] – Decca Muldowney