Virtual firm eXp jumps into iBuying craze

Joins rivals Redfin, Keller, Zillow and Opendoor

Oct.October 03, 2019 09:21 AM
eXp Realty CEO Glenn Sanford (Credit: iStock)

eXp Realty CEO Glenn Sanford (Credit: iStock)

Virtual brokerage eXp Realty is getting into the instant-homebuying game.

The fast-growing firm said Thursday it will join the ranks of Redfin, Zillow, Keller Williams and Opendoor by offering sellers the chance to instantly offload their property to buyers.

Through Express Offers, eXp agents will submit properties “to a number of institutional buyers,” the company said. The program is available in California, and eXp said it plans to open in 10 more states by the end of 2019.

Founded in 2009, eXp is one of the fastest-growing brokerages nationally with 20,000 agents as of August. At a time when traditional firms have been competing for agents, eXp offers high splits, revenue-sharing and company stock options.  During the second quarter of 2019, eXp reported a “record” $266.7 million in revenue, up 104 percent year over year. The firm also reported a $2.2 million net loss, up 16 percent.

But eXp is joining a crowded field of iBuyers. Zillow, for instance, has pinned its future growth on the ability to buy homes and originate mortgages. And Opendoor, the SoftBank-backed iBuyer founded in 2013, most recently raised $300 million at a $3.8 billion valuation.

Brokerages like Redfin, Keller Williams and Realogy are also in the iBuying game — albeit with different approaches. Realogy’s Coldwell Banker customers have access to cash offers through a partnership with Home Partners of America.

In August, Keller Williams teamed up with Offerpad to boost its iBuying program. Through their partnership, Keller agents steer sellers seeking all-cash offers to Offerpad, which looks to flip homes within 10 days. Offerpad uses Keller agents to market the properties on the back end.

Despite the rush of players betting on iBuying, skeptics abound, particularly because of the high cost of purchasing homes from sellers. In July, Opendoor laid off 50 and asked 300 employees to relocate to Phoenix. Steve Eisman, the famed short-seller, has shorted Zillow stock. Earlier this year, he said instant homebuying is like a ticking time bomb that could explode during a downturn.

“In a recession, you’re going to get your head handed to you,” he said.

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