Product Roundup: Realtor.com, Zillow, Wikicasa, Opendoor, Domclick and Flyhomes

June 14, 2024
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This week's product roundup features significant updates from both sides of the Atlantic. We'll start in the United States and circle back round...

 

Realtor.com integrates TravelTime for searchers and Offerpad for sellers

The US real estate portal Realtor.com has integrated two solutions from external providers into its offering for American home movers.

On Tuesday, the UK-based service provider TravelTime announced an integration with Realtor.com.

TravelTime, whose other customers include Rightmove, Zoopla, Adevinta and Scout24, allows portal users to define their search by how long they want to take to get to a specified place from their new home.

The feature is becoming more common on leading real estate verticals around the world with Online Marketplaces' 2023 Portal Standards Report revealing that around 3% of portals have a similar feature.

The same day, the Arizona-headquartered iBuyer Offerpad announced an integration with Realtor.com. The partnership will allow home sellers to request a cash offer for their property via Realtor's 'Seller Marketplace'.

Sellers located in markets that Offerpad works in will be able to input details of their home and receive an instant estimated cash offer from Offerpad.

“The integration with Offerpad is a natural fit for Realtor.com as we continue to innovate to meet the needs of home sellers in a dynamic market environment,” said Blake Elmquist, Vice President, Seller Category Management at Realtor.com. “This will also complement our RealChoice Selling experience, which provides consumers selling options, and enables them to compare listing agents to find a trusted expert.”

The partnership is essentially just providing more options for sellers on the Realtor website. The NAR-backed portal encourages sellers to click through and be connected with an agent but, ever since a 2021 partnership with iBuyer Opendoor, does provide the instant cash options as well.

 

Zillow adds a commute time search feature

Not to be outdone by Realtor.com, Zillow has this week announced its own feature that allows users to search by travel time.

According to a company housing trends survey, more than half of home buyers (53%) consider commute time a top priority with about two-thirds of buyers (67%) saying having a home in a walkable neighbourhood is very or extremely important.

Although, as the video below shows, the feature is currently hidden away on the filters bar on Zillow's app, users can no doubt expect it to become more prominent and eventually make it onto Zillow's web portal.

 

iBuyer Opendoor integrates with MLS Group

The San Francisco-based iBuyer and marketplace Opendoor has announced a partnership with My State MLS, a group of MLSs around the US, to introduce an integrated API into the organization's platform. This new feature allows over 60,000 agents to access Opendoor’s cash offer solution directly through My State MLS.

My State MLS agent members can now receive estimated cash offers on qualifying properties in minutes. The partnership works similarly to partnerships Opendoor has signed with portals such as Zillow and Realtor.com but this is the first time the product has been integrated at the MLS level.

The partnership will be available in all 50+ Opendoor markets starting June 13th.

 

Wikicasa adds FSBO listings

The Italian real estate portal Wikicasa is to begin for-sale-by-owner (FSBO) listings for the first time since its foundation in 2017.

Company CEO, Pietro Pellizzari revealed the controversial news on a recent episode of the PPW Podcast.

Pellizzari told Online Marketplaces that around 30% of property sales in Italy did not involve an agent and that for his portal to flourish and take on incumbent leaders Immobiliare and Idealista, it was necessary to have all listings on the market.

The move is somewhat contentious for Wikicasa which counts four of Italy's major agency groups as its major stakeholders. Pellizzari and Wikicasa plan to encourage potential FSBO sellers on the portal to use an agent before directing them to DokiCasda, the transaction progression platform acquired by Wikicasa last month.

 

Domclick adds mortgage escrow for privately built houses

Domclick, the Russian portal owned by Sber—a majority state-owned bank and the largest in the country—has added an escrow mortgage account for contractors building a house on behalf of a buyer.

Russian contractors can now take out a loan to build a private house with Sberbank and repay it after opening an escrow account, with only the land being built upon used as collateral.

According to surveys, Russians overwhelmingly prefer purchasing ready-made houses (73%), while just 13% opt for a contractor to build a house for them.

Georgy Prozorovsky, head of the individual housing construction division at DOM.RF, which administers and distributes government-subsidized mortgages (like those from Sber), said:

"About 70% of the country’s citizens dream of living in a country house.

"If citizens’ funds were protected during mutual settlements [with the builders], the number of people preferring this method could increase threefold–up to 39%.

"Currently, approximately 15 million families are planning to improve their living conditions over the next 5 years, of which about 5 million prefer a private house."

Domclick (or more accurately, Sber) has also launched a mortgage program for individual housing construction with the opening of an escrow account, protecting the interests of shareholders should the developer not fulfil its contractual obligations. Contractors can apply online via SberBusiness Bank.

Mortgage rates start at 6% but qualifying contractors can take out a loan at just 1%.

Domclick has announced no fewer than a dozen product updates since January 2024 as the portal, which is half the size of real estate vertical and main rival Cian in terms of traffic according to Similarweb, looks to improve its performance and take market share in a market dominated by Cian and the horizontal marketplaces Yandex and Avito.

 

Flyhomes says it has launched the world's first AI-powered property search and research portal

Flyhomes, a US PropTech company, has launched what it claims is the world's first AI-powered property search and research portal, with over 1000 data points on the macro and micro level.

Flyhome's launch comes after the company acquired the assets from the AI startup, ZeroDown, backed by Open AI founder Sam Altman. ZeroDown's co-founders Laks Srini and Abhijeet Dwivedi have joined Flyhomes as Chief Technology Officer and Chief Growth Officer respectively.

Tushar Garg, co-founder and CEO at FlyHomes, penned an open letter on the company's blog to discuss the launch of the product. He wrote:

"My confidence in this launch and where we’ll be able to take it from here is the result of our acquisition of assets from the Sam Altman-backed AI startup, ZeroDown. What we’re launching today represents four years of development by their team, which I think is one of the best AI engineering teams in technology overall, and certainly in the real estate space.

"Our portal offers so much data that it’s simply too much to present on a single listing page. That’s where generative AI comes in, with a proprietary tool we call 'Flyhomes AI'.

"Talking with Flyhomes AI is like talking with the absolute most knowledgeable local real estate agent in your area. Ask Flyhomes AI about a specific home, a neighborhood, market conditions, the process of buying a home, or anything else you can think of. You can get nuanced responses to open-ended questions like, 'Is this home a good deal compared to others in the neighborhood?' or specific responses to pointed questions like, 'How is my cell phone carrier’s coverage in this home?'

Garg also commented:

"We now have a nationwide network of top real estate agents who can take you the rest of the way in buying a home. It’s important to have smart representation from an agent in such an important transaction as buying a home.

"We think our partner real estate agents will love Flyhomes, too, because the buyers we send their way will be thoroughly prepared and ready to move forward.

"We already cover 75% of the US population, with more on the way."

Flyhomes started off as a

The latest pivot comes after a turbulent time for the San Francisco-based company. In December 2023 Flyhomes enacted the last in a protracted series of layoffs as it struggled to navigate "persistent and worsening headwinds".

Founded in 2016, Flyhomes' was a pioneer of the so-called 'power buyer' model as it helped buyers secure deals with all-cash offers. These days, like many power-buyers and iBuyers, the company offers a broad variety of services around the buying and selling of homes.

June 14, 2024
Since March 2020 Edmund's job has been to read about, write about, collect data on, analyse and generally know about real estate marketplaces and the companies that run them. Before that he worked at the aggregator Mitula Group (which became Lifull Connect) for five years.

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