How to Make the Most out of the iBuyer Trend

Don’t stress over the availability of iBuyer services. Learn how to make them work for you.


It seems that every other month there’s a new story about how the latest technology, startup, or trend is going to disrupt the real estate industry, making agents obsolete and changing the way people buy and sell homes. The iBuyer business model is no exception. While many real estate agents and brokers find such new processes intimidating, understanding iBuyers allows you to make them work for you -- and for your clients.

Understanding the iBuyer Value Proposition

Touted as a totally new concept in home buying and selling, companies like Opendoor, OfferPad, Zillow Offers, and others are jumping on the bandwagon and promising big changes. Providing offers within 24-48 hours, these iBuyer platforms promise to streamline and speed up home selling.

For many sellers, the iBuyer process offers the opportunity to field offers without weeks of cleaning, repairing, staging, and waiting. It also offers the opportunity to test the market for those who are unsure how to position their property or who are looking for more control within the transaction.

Five Ways to Make iBuyers Work for You

If you’ve been watching the industry chat about iBuyers with a wary eye, the good news is that you can relax. While there are advantages for some sellers in specific circumstances, for most sellers, working with an agent is still the best choice. For buyers, the iBuyer platform can be unwieldy and unfavorably limit their options.

Following are some things to keep in mind as you work with clients and respond to their questions to help them understand iBuyer platforms.

1. Understand your own UVP.

iBuyer platforms understand what makes them special for a certain group of buyers and sellers -- speed and a streamlined process. You have to understand your own unique value proposition (UVP) as well -- your expertise, your experience, and the fiduciary duty you owe to the client.

It is vital that you burnish your credentials and continue to keep up with the latest market news so that you are always offering up-to-the-minute expertise to potential clients. Know what’s on the market, provide expert analysis, and stay connected with your professional network. Finally, make sure that potential clients know and understand the difference a fiduciary makes in their transaction, providing service focused entirely on the client’s best interest.

2. Clearly communicate the ways in which your service is superior.

It’s not enough to have a pretty logo and a flattering headshot. Use content to communicate your UVP while you educate and inform your potential clients. A well-written website is essential for introducing clients to you, your team, and the way you work.

Blogging, video, podcasts, and social media are all avenues for communication and allow you to clearly differentiate the quality of the services you offer. Along with email and direct mail marketing, these content elements drive traffic to your website, making it a hub for providing information about the buying or selling process, your areas of specialization, and testimonials from your satisfied clients.

3. Crunch the numbers for potential clients.

Many potential sellers are taken with the promise of a fast closing transaction when choosing an iBuyer platform. However, in many ways the iBuyer transaction costs sellers more.

  1. iBuyer offers are generally lower than offers received from buyers on the open market.
  2. iBuyers generally ask for larger repair and renovation allowances.
  3. iBuyer fees are more expensive than standard closing fees, and offer less choice when it comes to the closing process.

There’s a reason that the open market is a better choice for many buyers and sellers. A straightforward negotiation will generally result in a better, win-win solution for each as opposed to negotiating with a corporate entity. While it may be worth finding out what an iBuyer’s offer would be, in most cases a little patience and the free market will provide a better result.

4. Understand the circumstances in which iBuyer platforms can help.

For some sellers, an iBuyer may actually be a good option. These include:

  1. Sellers who need to relocate quickly for a professional or family commitment and do not have time to wait for the right buyer.
  2. Sellers who, because of job loss or financial setback, need to sell quickly and minimize carrying costs.
  3. Sellers who have inherited a property and need to sell it quickly in order to finalize the disposition of the estate and minimize carrying costs.
  4. Sellers who are elderly or disabled, for whom the process of maintaining the home for showings would present a hardship.

If you are working with sellers who might benefit from an iBuyer offer, be willing to discuss the possibility with them. While you may not get the commission you’re used to, you’ll still get a referral fee from the platform. More importantly, you’ll show that you are a trustworthy advocate for your seller and that you truly have his/her needs in mind.

5. Find ways to participate in an iBuyer platform in your market.

There are a variety of ways in which you can still serve your client in an iBuyer scenario. Helping them evaluate a number of iBuyer offers shows that you are open to the process they prefer. At the same time, it gives you the opportunity to help them understand the differences between iBuyer offers and the ones they could likely receive from the open market process based on comps and market conditions.

In addition, various platforms offer various ways for you to take part in the transaction, including lead gen from sellers who did not receive an offer or participating as a partner agent for the platform. Learning to connect with the platform can help to allay your anxieties and better understand the process. This in turn makes you a better counselor and advocate for your clients.

While the vast majority of buyers and sellers will continue to use your services, the iBuyer process offers you a way to reach out and help sellers with compressed timeframes or urgent needs. The more open you are to the process, the more you will find ways to work with it and grow your business and your services.

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