COVID-19 & Real Estate: Leigh Brown Discusses iBuyers and Opportunity

by Joe Sesso on May 7, 2020

“This is a moment. I’m not sure how long it will last, but it’s a moment.” Real Estate superstar Leigh Brown said those words on a Secrets of Top Selling Agents Facebook Live session in April. She discussed “the moment” not only as the current pandemic the country faces but also the opportunity for agents and brokers that has been created in iBuyer markets. The major iBuyers announced that instant purchases have been suspended until further notice due to the Coronavirus.

Prior to COVID-19, iBuyers such as Opendoor, Zillow and Redfin were operating in 21 markets across the U.S. The term, “iBuyer,” is short for instant buyer. iBuyers enable homeowners to get a cash offer for their house within 24 hours after answering a few questions online. It’s a very convenient way for someone to sell their home fast and close to market value. But this convenience comes with a cost. The fees associated with an iBuyer transaction are usually more than a typical real estate commission, sometimes up to twice as much. Despite the fees, tens of thousands of homes have been sold this way since 2013, and it’s been a major disruptor to the real estate industry.

Leigh Brown lives in the Charlotte area, which is an iBuyer market. As the owner of Leigh Brown & Associates, she has experienced firsthand the frustration of losing a listing to an iBuyer. When iBuyers began suspending operations due to COVID-19, it created a vacuum in the real estate market. Sellers still need to sell, but now they don’t have an iBuyer option to fall back on – at least for now. As Brown said, “This is a moment.” Leigh Brown image If you live in an iBuyer market, this is your opportunity to gain more listings.

What is your strategy to win more listings, now that iBuyers are (temporarily) no longer your competition? Think about what made iBuyers so appealing. Sellers loved convenience, a quick close and limited contingencies. COVID-19 has had a major effect on real estate, and will continue to do so in 2020 and possibly part of 2021. Think about how you can offer convenience to sellers. Provide value to them by showing them how you are using technology to conduct virtual open houses, virtual showings and digital documentation. Show them how you are going to put their safety and the safety of prospective buyers first for actual showings, home inspections, etc. This moment can be your moment to stand out. Sellers still need to sell their homes. This is your opportunity to become their agent!

Note: Opendoor announced they would be re-entering the Phoenix and Raleigh-Durham markets during the first half of May at the time of this post.

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