Realogy, Home Partners of America iBuying venture hires first CEO

RealSure poised to expand among iBuyers with Blackstone backing

RealSure CEO Katie Finnegan (LinkedIn)
RealSure CEO Katie Finnegan (LinkedIn)

A joint venture between Realogy and Home Partners of America is poised to grow with the hiring of its first CEO.

iBuying venture RealSure is hiring former Walmart executive Katie Finnegan as chief executive, Bloomberg reported. Finnegan previously worked as the top e-commerce executive for Rite Aid and a WalMart executive.

The hire signals RealSure is poised to accelerate growth, as noted by Bloomberg. The iBuying venture will have some additional expansion help beyond its CEO hire: Blackstone, which this summer acquired Home Partners of America.

The venture between Realogy and Home Partners of America formalized towards the end of 2019 — about a year after Realogy launched its iBuying program — to compete with iBuyers such as Opendoor and Zillow, which leverage technology as a means of simplifying the buying and selling of homes.

RealSure paused its activity at the beginning of the pandemic before resuming in July 2020, and it has made moves to expand since then. Towards the end of 2020, the venture expanded coverage to five markets, including Chicago.

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It’s an advantageous time for RealSure to expand, as its leading competitor Zillow earlier this month paused home purchases to address a backlog of properties. The pullback left the company running the risk of ceding ground to other iBuyers in the increasingly competitive space.

Investment giant Blackstone will likely have some guidance for RealSure as well. The company acquired Home Partners of America in June for $6 billion. At the time of the transaction, the rent-to-own home specialist possessed more than 17,000 homes.

Like other iBuyers, RealSure utilizes proprietary technology to propose home offers for sellers. Once the homeowner accepts the offer, they acquire the home and make repairs before putting it back on the market.

RealSure stands out from other iBuyers because it gives sellers the choice of listing their home with a traditional real estate agent for 45 days, ostensibly helping ensure they get the best offer for their home. Agents receive a commission regardless of whether or not the homeowner sells through them or through the instant offer from RealSure.

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[Bloomberg] — Holden Walter-Warner