There’s always something to howl about

An apology to CEO Glenn Kelman: “I bought my house on!”

I owe Glenn Kelman an apology. When was young — which is to say four long years ago — I swore that Glenn’s assertion that people would buy homes like books on was simply absurd. I have moved people into rental properties sight unseen, and quite a few of my investors let me pick out rental home investments for them. But I could not foresee a day when people would commit huge sums of money to purchase a residence they had seen only on the internet.

Today I am obliged to eat my words — and I’m damn glad I don’t wear a hat!

I had email this afternoon from a vistor to our Phoenix MLS search site, Writing to me from Florida, he had found a property on our site that he wanted to purchase. To his credit, the home is very aggressively priced to its competition, as well as being listed for several thousand dollars less than the lowest recent comparable sale. In other words, very far from being wrong about this offer, he is right on the money. Plus which, he’s an investor, so he’s not going to have to explain to his spouse that he bought her a mail-order homestead.

But still…

But: Still: Thanks to DocuSign, we had everything done 53 minutes later. I had Phoenix handyman Mark Deermer meet me at the property so we could take a look at it — this after the contracts were already executed — but there was no key in the lockbox so we weren’t able to go inside. But we have ten days from acceptance to look for red flags, so there’s no risk in the work we’ve done so far.

But still…

Took me by surprise, but it’s been utterly painless till now. We may end up killing the deal yet, but, if not, we’ll close in 30 days or fewer.

So: Glenn Kelman: My hat — the one I don’t wear and won’t have to eat — is off to you. It’s a whole new world of real estate.


13 Comments so far

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Real Estate Feeds, Real Estate Ninja and Mark Risley, My REALTY. My REALTY said: An apology to CEO Glenn Kelman: “I bought my house on!”: I owe Glenn Kelman an… […]

  2. Mark Madsen July 26th, 2010 10:53 pm

    Excellent news, Greg. If a buyer trusts the agent and info they find online enough, I can see where it would make sense to place an offer without seeing the property first.

  3. Alex Cortez July 27th, 2010 1:14 am

    That’s a big commitment for buyers, but with so many ‘outs’ it can pay off (get a property under contract before somebody else can put another offer and still have the ability to do due diligence). Congrats, hope all goes well.

  4. Joe July 27th, 2010 5:36 am

    Hmm, Makes ya wonder how long real estate agents will be necessary to close the transaction. Often times we sell a home only because the buyer has no way to access the home except through a real estate agent. These same buyers really do not need us to fill the paperwork out, but since the seller is paying the commission, why not have us do the paperwork for them.

  5. Jim Duncan July 27th, 2010 6:42 am

    I’ve done this process several times with out of town and international clients – not investors, but eventual homeowners – and the process is smooth if you can use the best available tools to facilitate communication.

    Joe –

    I think good agents make this process happen. They add value through the process, the trust, confidence and knowledge they instill.

    The challenge is making oneself stand out as one of the trustworthy agents …

  6. Keith Lutz July 27th, 2010 6:57 am

    I deal with investors too. But most want to check it out themselves. This is a rare occurence, but it is nice to have an easy sale. Love investors!

  7. Jeff Brown July 27th, 2010 11:44 am

    The process you describe is true for about 75-85% of my business since late 2003. Fortunately, I’ll be able to get a tad more traditional with the addition of my local market to the mix.

  8. Tom Johnson July 27th, 2010 7:21 pm

    Congratulations, Greg! That is the single best marketing post I have ever read.

  9. Tim Shepard July 27th, 2010 8:02 pm

    I sold my first “sight unseen” property back in 2003 and more than 20% of my business today is done this very way.

    A few observations of these transactions are:
    1. Condos and Tract homes are the most likely candidates. The homogeneous attributes of both facilitate buyer comfort levels.
    2. Some sort of pricing anomaly. In other words, it’s obvious to everyone, including my 10 year old son, that this property is under-priced.
    3. The buyers are driven by the “deal” and not by emotions.

  10. Leanne Finlay July 29th, 2010 7:42 am

    Hopefully you won’t run into a situation such as this one:

  11. louis cammarosano August 2nd, 2010 8:35 pm

    Hi Greg
    somewhat astonishing, I would not have believed it either. Mitch Ribak a homegain member told me he had buyers for homes in florida do the same.

    I would not do it, and of course I often counsel people not to base marketing decisions on what they themselves would do but do base them on what people actually do.

    However I would not form an opinion based on anecdotal evidence. The question is not whether you sold a home online but rather how many homes each year get sold online.

  12. Greg Swann August 2nd, 2010 9:12 pm

    > The question is not whether you sold a home online but rather how many homes each year get sold online.

    Totally agree. It’s interesting as a black swan topic, that’s all. I never thought I’d see it, and it’s a function of deep discounting, frankly. The harder it is to overpay, the easier it is to shop casually.

  13. louis cammarosano August 2nd, 2010 9:21 pm

    Correct, a black swan is an outlier, not necessarily indicative or a trend.

    If “like” means in the manner of, yes, someone bought a house in the same manner.
    If “like” means in similar volumes, no, people are not buying homes like they do on Amazon.

    You really don’t need to apologize to glenn as people are not buying homes online like they buy books on amazon.

    If one pig flew it would not mean all pigs could fly…:-)