Gimme squatter: When iBuying homes draw unwanted attention

Self-guided tours in iBuying model create opening for unauthorized residents

(Credit: iStock)
(Credit: iStock)

A prospective buyer who toured an Opendoor house in Arizona last month was surprised to find a couple with two children inside, apparently living there.

Police were called to the scene and found a woman, Adriana Gamboa, 26, giving one of her children a bath while Gary Lynn, 29, was charging his phone in another room, authorities said.

As the instant-homebuying model has grown in popularity in recent years, its self-guided tours have created an opening for squatters taking advantage of vacant properties for shelter, partying and drug use. The Arizona incident has sparked discussion among agents about safety issues posed by iBuyer homes, according to Inman.

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Under the model, homeowners are presented with all-cash offers. If they accept, iBuyers such as Opendoor will make minor repairs and then put the property on the market. Prospective buyers can tour the vacant homes on their own, organizing the tour through an app.

While convenient, iBuying poses risks. Agents entering vacant homes have encountered squatters and witnessed property damage and security breaches, such as a key left in the front door of an Arizona Offerpad property, according to Inman.

The market is becoming increasingly competitive as new players enter. This month, virtual brokerage eXp Realty joined rivals Opendoor, Redfin, Zillow and Keller Williams in the iBuying space.
[Inman] — Sylvia Varnham O’Regan