There's a new startup in town that's aiming to take the pressure of the home buying process by letting people cut out the middleman – or in other words, the real estate agent.
Open Listings points out that two-thirds of the residential real estate market involves repeart buyers, which means that not everyone might need the services of an agent. Instead, Open Listings is touting a self-service platform with human experts available on-demand for when their expertise is really needed. It charges a flat rate fee, which means buyers can save themselves a good chunk of the standard three percent agent commission.
Open Listings believes the real estate market is spiralling out of control and that commissions are becoming overly expensive as they rise with the cost of homes.
“With technology today, you can find the house you want and know the price is good. But what you can’t do is buy the house without an agent,” said Open Listings co-founder Judd Schoenholtz to Techcrunch. “You’re doing 80 percent of the work, but you’re required to have an agent present.”
Using Open Listings, it's possible to start with or without a particular home in mind. Simply search for a home from their listings, or find one using other sites and applications. Open Listings provides an in-house team who can organize viewings and they can also show clients what a competitive value for each property they're interested in should be.
Once you've found a home, you can make an offer directly through the site and Open Listings will submit it to the seller. The service is totally free until the sale has been made – only then will you be charged the flat $5,000 fee.
According to Schoenholtz, Open Listings isn't really a competitor to OpenDoor, a service that recently raised $20 million. Open Door is designed to serve sellers in underserved markets, whereas Open Listings is focused on busy markets like California.