As the housing market heated up this summer, selling to an iBuyer became a less attractive option for many profit-minded homeowners.
The nation’s top iBuyers purchased about 1,800 homes in the third quarter, or 0.2% of homes that sold across the 418 U.S. metros tracked by Redfin. That’s down nearly 80% from a year earlier, as iBuyers slowly ramped up business following a temporary shutdown at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Purchases did increase from the second quarter, when iBuyers only bought about 800 homes.
This is according to a Redfin analysis of MLS and public records data on home purchases and sales made by the most well-known national iBuyers, including RedfinNow, Opendoor, Zillow and Offerpad.
The term “iBuyer” (short for instant buyer) is used to describe real estate companies that purchase houses from homeowners in quick, cash transactions by using algorithms to evaluate a property’s worth based on comparable market data. iBuyers typically charge sellers a higher fee than a traditional real estate agent would given the certainty of a cash offer with a flexible move-out day and the convenience of avoiding home prep, showings and open houses. These companies then make any necessary improvements and resell the homes.
Real estate firms including Redfin, Zillow and Opendoor announced in March that they were pausing iBuying as the coronavirus pandemic began to take a toll on the economy. They began reopening their iBuying programs in May and June as housing demand started rebounding amid record-low interest rates and an increase in relocations made possible by remote work.
The slowdown in iBuying comes as the rest of the real-estate market is red hot, with home prices rising 15% nationally and pending sales up twice as much.
“The hotter the market, the less attractive it is for home sellers to let an iBuying company take a cut of the sale,” said Redfin Lead Economist Taylor Marr. “With home prices and demand surging, many sellers figure they can sell their home quickly without having to give away any of their profits.”
A lack of homeowners wanting to put their homes on the market is also causing iBuyer activity to remain slower than it was in 2019, according to Myron Curry, a senior offer and acquisitions specialist at RedfinNow in the Los Angeles area.
“We’re being as aggressive as we can when it comes to making offers to buy homes, but there just aren’t that many homeowners ready to sell. A lot of homeowners are staying put during the pandemic,” Curry said. “With home prices and demand going through the roof, many sellers have decided to list their home the traditional way because they’re confident they can sell it quickly themselves.”
Sabrina Archolecas, an asset manager for RedfinNow in Texas, said that iBuyers are also still ramping back up after putting business on hold at the beginning of the pandemic.
“We’re still playing catch up from the spring, when we stopped buying homes for a few months,” said Archolecas, who helps RedfinNow sell homes once the company has bought and renovated them. “We’re working on building up the inventory of homes that we can sell.”
Many of the homes that RedfinNow is currently focused on purchasing are owned by families who don’t have time to do renovations themselves, and need to sell quickly so they can buy their next home, she said.
There’s also a handful of sellers who have been working with RedfinNow because they want to avoid having people walk through their homes during a pandemic, Curry said.
iBuyer Market Share Was the Highest in Phoenix
Phoenix was home to the highest iBuyer market share, with iBuyers purchasing 1.5% of homes that sold there in the third quarter. Still, that’s down from 5.3% a year earlier. It was followed by Charlotte, NC, with a market share of 1%, and Raleigh, NC, at 0.9%. Atlanta, Durham, NC and Tucson, AZ tied for fourth place, at 0.8%.
iBuyers Sold Homes More Quickly Than They Did In 2019
Nationally, iBuyer-owned homes found a buyer after being listed on the market for a median of 13 days, down from 48 days a year earlier and 17 days in the second quarter. By comparison, the typical non-iBuyer home spent 33 days on the market, down from 39 days a year earlier and 37 days in the second quarter.
In a majority of the top 23 iBuying markets, iBuyers sold their inventory faster than the typical homeowner, with the largest margins in Tucson, AZ (39 days faster), Anaheim, CA (35 days faster), Riverside, CA (34 days faster) and Las Vegas (34 days faster). Denver and Minneapolis were the only metros where iBuyers took longer to sell homes.
On average, iBuyers offered a 2.5% commission to real estate agents representing buyers of iBuyer-owned homes in the third quarter, down from 2.6% in the second quarter and 2.9% a year earlier.
iBuying companies have been testing out offering lower commissions to buyers’ agents as a way to trim their selling costs, which could allow them to make more competitive offers when purchasing homes themselves.
iBuyers Bought Less Expensive Homes Than Last Year
iBuyers bought homes for a median of $251,000 in the third quarter, down 2.3% year over year. By comparison, the median purchase price for the typical American homebuyer was $312,000, up 11.4% year over year. In every top iBuyer market*, iBuyers purchased homes for less than the metro-area median.
Third-Quarter iBuyer Market Summary By U.S. Metro Area
|Metro Area||Number of Homes Bought by iBuyers, Year-Over-Year Change||Share of Homes Bought by iBuyers||Share of Homes Bought by iBuyers, Year-Over-Year Change||iBuyer Median Sale Price||Overall Median Sale Price||Median Days On Market for iBuyer Homes||Median Days On Market Overall|
|Anaheim, CA||-45.0%||0.2%||-0.3 pts||$577,500||$775,000||6||41|
|Atlanta, GA||-77.5%||0.8%||-3.4 pts||$208,000||$280,000||15||27|
|Austin, TX*||-76.7%||0.4%||-1.5 pts||—||$351,000||10||20|
|Charlotte, NC||-72.0%||1.0%||-2.9 pts||$224,500||$295,000||42||45|
|Dallas, TX*||-83.6%||0.4%||-2.4 pts||—||$322,000||12||33|
|Denver, CO||-84.5%||0.4%||-2.4 pts||$409,000||$454,995||9||8|
|Durham, NC||-80.7%||0.8%||-3.7 pts||$203,000||$311,000||13||44|
|Fort Worth, TX*||-76.0%||0.7%||-2.7 pts||—||$265,000||16||28|
|Houston, TX*||-94.6%||0.1%||-2.9 pts||—||$267,000||10||30|
|Las Vegas, NV||-91.5%||0.3%||-3.2 pts||$283,400||$312,000||8||42|
|Los Angeles, CA||-41.0%||0.1%||-0.1 pts||$625,000||$707,000||7||39|
|Minneapolis, MN||-86.0%||0.2%||-1.0 pts||$242,324||$314,000||20||19|
|Nashville, TN||-73.2%||0.4%||-1.2 pts||$254,150||$329,000||17||41|
|Orlando, FL||-77.2%||0.4%||-1.4 pts||$237,500||$283,895||9||20|
|Phoenix, AZ||-69.1%||1.5%||-3.8 pts||$261,500||$325,000||7||34|
|Portland, OR||-79.9%||0.3%||-1.4 pts||$352,500||$442,000||11||11|
|Raleigh, NC||-80.7%||0.9%||-4.6 pts||$234,000||$315,000||23||47|
|Riverside, CA||-89.7%||0.2%||-1.6 pts||$397,250||$430,000||5||39|
|Sacramento, CA||-60.2%||0.3%||-0.7 pts||$415,000||$466,250||8||13|
|San Antonio, TX||-82.4%||0.4%||-2.2 pts||—||$257,990||14||34|
|San Diego, CA||-22.6%||0.2%||-0.1 pts||$472,000||$650,000||12||15|
|Tampa, FL||-79.7%||0.2%||-0.9 pts||$190,000||$267,000||6||19|
|Tucson, AZ||-66.1%||0.8%||-1.8 pts||$211,900||$255,000||8||47|
|National—U.S.A.||-78.6%||0.2%||-0.7 pts||$ 251,000||$312,000||13||33|
*Median sale prices are not available in Texas metros due to limited public records data.
To identify purchases made by iBuyers, we analyzed public records data of home sales across all the markets that Redfin covers. To determine iBuyer market share, we divided homes sold across all of the markets that Redfin covers by all known home purchases made by RedfinNow, Opendoor, Offerpad, Zillow Offers and Bungalo. There are numerous other companies that engage in iBuying in various markets, however Redfin tracks only the most prominent, national iBuyers.
We determined the top iBuying markets by identifying the metro areas where iBuyers had a market share of at least 1%. The 23 metros that met that threshold in the third quarter can be found in the table above.