Chicago real estate brokers have a new tool to calm sellers’ nerves

Some Chicago-area realtors are getting a new tool this week to calm the nerves of home sellers, as a business that offers cash offers for quick home sales expands in that market.

RealSure Sell, which launched in early October and is now entering its 11th U.S. metro area, Chicago, offers sellers a cash-on-signup offer valid for 45 days.

“You can have this offer in your back pocket as you go out to find out if the market will pay you a higher price,” said Bill Young, CEO of Chicago-based Home Partners of America, which launched RealSure in partnership with Realogy. , the parent company of several residential real estate brands. Two major Realogy brands in the Chicago area are Coldwell Banker, Century 21, and Sotheby’s.

Available only to home and townhouse sellers, not condominiums, RealSure is realtors’ effort to combat the iBuyer phenomenon, where companies like Zillow Offers and Opendoor make automated offers to sellers, eliminating the real estate brokers of the action. . While iBuying has yet to make a splash in the Chicago area, it’s reportedly doing about 5% of home sales in Phoenix, or about 1,000 transactions per month. As technology continues to reach the home selling industry, Realogy is taking proactive steps, creating a hybrid of cutting-edge technology selling and old-school broker selling.

“It really allows our agents to better serve their customers,” said Ayoub Rabah, president of Coldwell Banker in the Midwest region, which encompasses the Chicago metro area. “They can come in and excuse the pun here, tell their clients, I’m really sure we can sell your house fast” if that’s the client’s priority, he said.

Prior to taking the role at Coldwell, Rabah was senior vice president of marketing at Home Partners of America, the company that is now associated with Realogy on RealSure.

Since RealSure was only recently rolled out, there are no track records to report. Young and Tracey Jeter, vice president of marketing for Home Partners, said no deals have yet closed in other cities.

Home Partners’ original product, launched in 2012, is a rent-to-own program that grew out of the foreclosure crisis. For this product, credit-damaged people identify the home they wanted to buy, then HomePartners buys it and rents it to them with an option to buy.

In this model, “we bought 15,000 homes without seeing them,” said Tracey Jeter, vice president of marketing at HomePartners. With all of this data, she says, “we’re able to very effectively estimate a home’s value” before making a RealSure offer to a seller.

Chicago may offer a slightly different hurdle for RealSure than markets in some other cities, due to the weak market here. Chicago-area homes have seen some of the slowest price growth among major cities. And this year, homes spend an average of 67 days on the market in Will County, 85 days in Chicago and 91 in Lake County, according to cumulative data released in mid-October by Midwest Real Estate Data and the Chicago Association. real estate agents. Put those two together, and it seems likely that a seller with a RealSure offer in their back pocket might not have enough time in 45 days to determine whether they can expect a higher price on the market.

What Jeter calls “efficient” pricing may look like low pricing to the optimistic seller, although after a longer period of adjustment the number may not seem so bad to a seller.

Gary Lucido, owner-broker of Lucid Realty and real estate blogger who has written about iBuying several times, said the weak market here is one reason sellers “should be skeptical” of any form of iBuying, including RealSure. The best preparation, he said, is to “ask a third party to help you figure out what the market value of your home is.” This can be accomplished through a thorough study of real estate data available online, appraisals and discussions with several real estate agents, or any combination thereof.

Young acknowledged that the weak Chicago market could be a factor. Both he and Jeter said the weakness could also help boost RealSure’s appeal. Owners wanting to move to their next address without wasting time selling the old address, and especially those who don’t expect to make a big profit from selling the old address, might be attracted to RealSure as a way to speed up their movement.

A quick cash sale “gives you the certainty that you can buy your next home” right away, Young said.

Kristan F. Talley