North Texas-based JP&Associates is entering the iBuyer market on behalf of its agents, launching an instant offer platform across the exploding firm’s brokerage and franchise network this week. 

This makes JPAR, a full-service brokerage with a capped transaction fee, the first independent brokerage in North Texas to launch an exclusive iBuyer program for its agents. It’s called JPAR Instant Offers.

“Entering the iBuyer market gives our agents a competitive advantage over Opendoor, Knock, OfferPad, and the other unilateral “sell now” offers,” says Giuseppe J.P. Piccinini, President and Chairman of the Board of JP & Associates Realtors. “This will greatly benefit our clients and agents.”

J.P. says he has partnered with a Seattle-based company, OfferAI. which relocated to Dallas in January.

“OfferAI is a white-label iBuyer that uses a bot to make instant offers on off-market properties. It empowers agents to present themselves as an iBuyer from their brokerage site, or their own affiliate page of OfferAI,” says Jack Burns, Founder and CEO of OfferAI. 

Unlike most of the current iBuyers on the landscape, JPAR associates become the “chaperones” of the webpage so they can guide sellers through the process and they retain a 3 percent commission on accepted instant offers.

“And that’s a game-changer,” says JP.

Burns relocated to Dallas from Seattle earlier this year with his firm. He says Texas is a preferable market for the rapidly growing iBuyer market, more so than Seattle, because of our relatively affordable home prices.

“The iBuyer space has not made a strong presence in the Seattle market because the median sales price is $669,500, way too high for iBuyers,” says Burns.
 
Seattle is home to Zillow, Amazon, Microsoft, and other high tech companies, but not likely to be an iBuyer hub.
 
“Texas is a sweet spot as far as home prices that work well for iBuyers,” says Burns, “That’s a home usually in the $200,000- to $250,000-ish range.”

(more…)

Are Zestimates an invasion of privacy?

Back in May, Zillow was sued by several flippers in Chicago who were annoyed that Zestimates were undervaluing their flips (likely because the system hadn’t caught up) and bringing in bottom feeders using Zestimates as holy writ on appraised value and therefore purchase price.

In my May coverage, I noted that Zillow seemed to have an easily winnable case because Illinois law makes exceptions for using an “automated valuation model.” Simply, because it’s an algorithm analyzing data and not someone physically evaluating a property, it’s OK.  This morning, U.S. District Court Judge Amy St. Eve agreed with me when she dismissed that count of the lawsuit with prejudice (haha). Note: “with prejudice” means it can’t be tried again … it’s done.

However she also dismissed counts II-IV without prejudice, meaning they could be tried again, even though she ranks the odds of success as slim.

(more…)

Real Estate aggregation and data website Zillow.com is in hot water in Illinois.  Zillow has been successfully sued in the past for using photos without permission. They’ve been hauled to court over low Zestimate “appraisals” by sellers who’re listing well above the estimates. Even at the other end of the spectrum, they’ve been accused of inflating prices which resulted in some market froth.

The latest suit, seeking class-action status, was filed on behalf of builders who’re trying to sell homes that Zillow persistently undervalues.  This causes prospective buyers to low-ball the homes using Zillow as “proof” their offer is more realistic than the seller’s price.

(more…)