iBuyer programs heat up Houston home-selling market

By Bill Spencer - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - Bryan Campbell and his wife, Pollyanna, are packing up and moving out.

With their two daughters grown now, their 3,800-square-foot home in northwest Houston has become too big for them and Pollyanna Campbell’s father, Jim, to live in and care for anymore.

The only problem Bryan Campbell could see ahead was selling the house. He was dreading it.

“It’s very, very stressful selling a home. There is so much work and worry involved,” Campbell said.

What bothered him the most was all of the fix-up work involved: the painting, the repairing, the replacing, the updating -- not to mention the fact his family would have to leave the house spotless and get out every time a real estate agent was going to show the house for sale.

“My wife and I would almost come to blows every time we would discuss it. She would say, ‘You don’t realize we have to keep the house picked up, perfect, and we’ll have a 30-minute window to get out of the house.’ She was right, it’s a lot,” Campbell said.

That's when Campbell discovered Zillow Offers, a new way to sell your home fast for cash that recently entered the Houston market.

“It was great. We wanted to move fast, and we had an estimate within a week, and then we had an official offer on our home from Zillow the following week. It was amazing, to be honest,” Campbell said.

Mark Dimas is a real estate broker working with Zillow Offers in Houston. He said the whole idea behind Zillow Offers is to make selling your home as simple as possible.

“It is so fast. You just go onto the Zillow app or website. You request an offer. You answer a few questions about your home, you can even put some photos of your home in there and within a few days, you are going to get an offer,” Dimas said.

One of Zillow’s key selling points is that they are trying to make the process as fast and hassle-free as possible for sellers.

You don’t have to worry about painting the house, putting in new carpeting or putting in new appliances or countertops. Zillow makes you a cash offer on your home as it is.

Zillow will send a professional house inspector to check out your home before signing a contract with you.

You can back out of the Zillow deal at any time with no obligation up until you actually sign the contract.

Zillow will also charge you a service fee that will vary depending on your home but averaged about 7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018.

You will also choose the exact date you want to close on the deal.

“We are set to close in about 60 days. We wanted that time frame,” Campbell said.

Chaille Ralph is a past chairman of the Houston Association Of Realtors.

She says Zillow Offers is part of a very fast-moving, new segment of the real estate market called iBuyers.

These are internet-based companies like Knock, OpenDoor, Ribbon and Offerpad that operate online and offer you cash for your home.

Her advice before you consider selling to Zillow Offers?

“I would probably look at multiple iBuyer programs and see what is the best value I could get as a seller. I would also look at the more traditional route of selling my house with a real estate agent and seeing what value I could get there, as well,” Ralph said.

As for Campbell and his wife, they have already agreed to sell their home to Zillow Offers and are set to close the deal in 60 days.

Campbell estimates they will make about 2 to 3 percent less on the sale of their home by selling to Zillow as opposed to fixing up the house and selling the traditional way with a real estate agent, but for him, it is well worth it.

“I say you have nothing to lose. If you are considering selling your home, click on the Zillow website and just let them make you an offer. There is no obligation,” Campbell said.

Real estate agents Channel 2 Investigates talked to recommend you first find out the true value of your home by contacting a real estate agent and having that agent check the prices of comparable homes to yours in the market.

That way, you will know what your home is worth right now and can make a sound decision whichever way you decide to go, with Zillow Offers, with another iBuyer or by traveling the more traditional route of selling your home.

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