Monday, September 28, 2020

A US app has found the key to selling homes quickly, pain-free 

May 28. 2017
Nattapon Asswisessiwakul
Nattapon Asswisessiwakul
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FOUR YEARS AGO, when I started working as a real estate agent, an Australian client asked me: "How much time would I need to sell a house in Thailand?"

This is a difficult question to answer, but as an agent I should know the answer. "Well, it depends on how you're pricing your property. It may need one or two years or six months if you are lucky," I told him. However, many thousands of homeowners haven't been able to sell their houses even after a few years. My Australian client said you could sell an apartment in Sydney in about one or two months. His answer surprised me: It is almost impossible to sell property within a month in Thailand.

After that, I started researching how other countries sell their houses and I found that they all vary. The time taken depends on location, market demand, prices and other factors. In countries like the United States, United Kingdom or Australia, you may need 1-3 months on average if the properties are located in the city, while it may take about six months if they are situated elsewhere. We found that these countries have an established structure to solve liquidity problems in property sales.

It was a real eye-opener that in developed countries, you do not need many years to sell houses. However, I was surprised when my colleague found a start-up in the US committed to buying houses within two days through "Opendoor".

Opendoor is a property tech firm in Phoenix that aims to speed up the home-sale process by purchasing the home directly from sellers within a few days. A seller can avoid the tedious process of home selling through home improvements, dealing with an agent, open-house visits and others. Opendoor proposes a price to the owner within 24 business hours of receiving property information. If the price is accepted, the start-up will send an inspector to check the home's condition. If no additional problems are found, the owner will receive the payment and move out within 30-60 days.

Opendoor has built its own pricing models and algorithms using public data, which generate what they describe as a fair-offer price. Opendoor charges the seller a fee that is 2 to 4 per cent higher than the 6 per cent charged by a real estate broker, in return for the convenience to the seller and the risk being borne by the company.

Buyers who purchase houses from Opendoor will have newly renovated houses and get an inspection report from a third party. Buyers can tour homes at their convenience from 6am-9pm daily with no appointment needed. When they arrive at the house, they can use the Opendoor app to instantly unlock the home. The company has a 30-day buyback programme if buyers are not satisfied after moving in. 

Founded in 2014 by former PayPal executive and investor Keith Rabois, Eric Wu, Ian Wong and JD Ross, Opendoor presently operates in Phoenix, Dallas and Las Vegas. It currently buys about US$60 million worth of homes per month, and has bought and sold more than 4,000 houses to date. In November 2016, the company raised $210 million with $1-billion valuation.

This is a case of a founder who is passionate to challenge something that seems impossible. Selling properties is difficult everywhere in the world. The key is market data. Without accurate market data, it would be very hard for Opendoor to calculate home valuation. Moreover, they would have no evidence to explain to the homeowners. 

Nattapon Asswisessiwakul, CEO Z My Home, dtac Accelerate Batch 3

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