Zillow launches home buying program in Austin

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) —Most people know Zillow.com as a place to find homes for sale and see how much their home is worth.

But now the company is hoping to enter the market and buy homes in Austin.

Zillow Offers launched in 2017 in select cities. This week, they expanded the program to Austin. It’s billed as a way for homeowners to unload their property quickly and easily.

It’s similar to services like Offerpad, Opendoor and others. Once the deal is done, Zillow puts the house back on the market, but the company doesn’t like to use the word “flipping” to describe what they’re doing

“We don’t flip homes — we provide a service to sellers,” reads the FAQ section on the Zillow Offers website.

“Zillow is paying full market value for the homes,” says Chris Watters, an Austin real estate broker contracted with Zillow to help buy and sell homes in the program.

How it works

People interested in selling to Zillow start by giving the company basic information about the house: square footage, number of bedrooms etc.

Zillow analyzes the information and makes an offer. If you move forward, they send an inspector to check the condition of the property. They deduct the cost of any repairs and make a final offer. The seller can take it or walk away.

Watters says Zillow charges sellers a “convenience fee” that works out to about 7.5% — which he says is roughly equal to the realtor commission, closing costs and other fees related to a traditional sale.

Sellers are allowed to also hire their own realtor to handle the sale to Zillow, but they would have to pay the agent’s commission on top of Zillow’s fees.

Skeptics of so-called iBuyer programs like Zillow’s say after the repair charges and fees are factored, sellers may be getting less than market value.

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