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Real estate giant become latest to jump on iBuyer trend

Following a path previously laid out by the likes of real estate search engines Zillow and Redfin, and taking a page out of the playbook of iBuyer platforms Opendoor, Offerpad, and others, real estate agency Keller Williams is about to start buying and selling houses.

Next month, Keller Williams will launch an iBuyer offering, which will be called “Keller Offers.”

The news of Keller Williams expanding into direct homebuying was first reported by Andrea Riquier of MarketWatch.

According to details provided to HousingWire, Keller Offers will initially launch in the Dallas/Fort Worth market in May 2019. From there, the company plans to expand its homebuying and selling operations.

Keller Williams Spokesperson Darryl Frost told HousingWire that the company expects Keller Offers to be operating in six to eight “major” markets by the end of this year.

“While we believe the addressable market for iBuyers represents less than 10% of the overall market, we do see this as an important additional option for KW agents to be able to offer their sellers,” Frost said in a statement. “Our goal is to minimize the cost to the consumer.”

According to Frost, unlike other iBuyers, consumers using Keller Offers will have a fiduciary (a KW real estate agent) working on their behalf and serving as “trusted advocate” throughout the process.

Frost said that the company plans to use $100 million this year on the operations of its iBuyer program. An iBuyer is the catchall term for online real estate investors, who seek to reduce transactional property costs via digital tools. These investor will typically make an "instant" offer on a home. Thus, the term i(nstant)Buyer.

The expansion of KW’s business model is the latest in a series of moves meant to transform the company from a traditional real estate brokerage into a more technologically advanced one.

That transformation was touted by the company’s co-founder, Gary Keller, when he returned to the company as CEO earlier this year.

Last year, the company acquired startup SmarterAgent, which allows agents to create their own branded apps, and has a platform that connects more than 650 multiple listing services. 

And now, Keller Williams is joining the suddenly crowded field of iBuyers, which, as mentioned earlier, includes Zillow, Redfin, and more.

Both of those companies expanded beyond real estate and online listings into the iBuyer market, which already featured several companies that made direct homebuying their sole business.

Companies like Opendoor, Offerpad, Perch, and others have been operating in the space for some time, and in certain cases, have raised money hand over fist.

Offerpad has raised more than $1 billion in capital, while Opendoor was valued at nearly $4 billion during its last capital raise.

Now, Keller Williams wants a piece of the action.

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