'Zillow Offers' joins growing iBuyer market in Orlando

Orlando is first Florida market for Zillow's new real estate service

By Louis Bolden - Investigative Reporter

In Central Florida's hot housing market, there's a new way to sell your home that claims to be a lot more predictable and convenient than traditional real estate sales.

Homeowners can sell their house with the click of a mouse on Zillow.com.

Zillow Offers launched in Florida last month and has already purchased its first property.

The benefit particularly helps sellers who need to sell fast and might not have the time for open houses, random showings and home improvement, according to Zillow.  

Andy Baxter has sold two homes in the traditional manner by listing it with a Realtor, but when he decided to sell his Winter Garden home, he tried the new approach.

"Virtually all of it is done online, which I am very comfortable with," Baxter said.

Baxter is one of the first in the state to use Zillow Offers.

Convenience was one of the biggest benefits, Baxter said. 

Veronica Figueora is a real estate agent working with Zillow in Central Florida. She says the whole idea is to make selling a home as simple as possible.

"It's a very seamless process with complete transparency," she said.

First, go to Zillow.com or the Zillow app and select "sell with Zillow Offers." Then answer a few questions about the residence and upload some pictures.

Zillow will then present a no obligation initial offer, according to Figueroa -- "usually between 48 to 72 hours," she said.

One of Zillow's key selling points is they're trying to make home selling hassle free, so owners don't have to fix up the house before putting it on the market.

Zillow Offers buys homes on an "as-is" basis.

They will send a home inspector to check the house before entering a contract.

Sellers can back out at any time with no obligation up until they sign the contract, and the seller chooses the closing date, according to Figueroa.

Sellers also won’t have to leave the house spotless because there won’t be any showings, she said.

Jeffrey Fagan is the president of the Orlando Realtor Association and says Zillow Offers is part of a growing segment of the real estate community called iBuyers. Companies including Knock, Opendoor, Ribbon and Offerpad operate online and offer cash for homes.

However, Fagan believes in the traditional approach to home selling.

"I believe in what Realtors do and the value they bring to the equation," he said.

Experts believe sellers should compare all of the programs before sellers committing to one. 

Convenience has a price, and the traditional route of having Realtor representation has its benefits too, according to Fagan.

"A high quality Realtor can bring value to the transaction well above and beyond the commission that they charge," he said.

National Association of Realtors "statistics prove time and again that a Realtor-involved transaction gets up to 15% more than somebody trying to do it on their own," Fagan said.

Zillow charges a service fee that varies depending on the house but averages about 7%.
            
Baxter says his fee was about 10 %. He is scheduled to close on July 31.

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