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iBuying is Back With New Protocols and Features


May 12, 2020 by Liz Brumer
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iBuying companies like Zillow (NASDAQ: ZG), Redfin (NASDAQ: RDFN), Offerpad, and Opendoor shut down their iBuying operations as the coronavirus outbreak started to take hold of the country in early March. But as the country begins to reopen, they're making a comeback in the real estate marketplace with new protocols and features in place.

This week, both Offerpad and Opendoor have announced that they will resume iBuying starting May 8, 2020. Opendoor will resume iBuying in the Phoenix market only for the time being to ensure their new virtual interior home assessments will work as intended.

Offerpad, however, will resume iBuying across all 800 markets they currently operate in, using certified health and safety procedures provided by HealthyVerify, a health-safety organization that aims to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. In addition, Offerpad is introducing several new protocols that will make most interactions of the company virtual, including virtual 3D showings, video chat tours, and virtual closings.

If for some reason a property must be visited, the property will be vacant and undergo strict sanitization procedures. Additionally, the companies support Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for social distancing for anyone entering the property.

iBuying, which provides instant offers to home sellers, made its debut in the early to mid-2010s and over the past several years has become an increasingly popular way to buy and sell a home, making up around 10% of the market share of homes sold in 2019.

The uncertainty of the real estate market as a result of the coronavirus pandemic caused a big disruption for this sector of buyers. iBuyers had no model that could support a disturbance of this magnitude. Opendoor and Offerpad reopening their doors so quickly reveals their confidence in the health of the real estate market and faith in where the market is headed.

In the coming weeks, especially as more states and markets begin to reopen, it's likely other iBuyers will follow suit, resuming purchasing and sales in their respective markets with their own health and safety procedures and virtual processes in place.

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Liz Brumer-Smith has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Redfin and Zillow Group (A shares). The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.