An Idea for iBuyers (or Brokers and Agents) From Personal Experience

Happy Tuesday, fellow house-arrest detainees! This will be a short post, at least by my standards, as I have other bigger posts in the works, but wanted to get this out.

So I’m one of those who bought a house during the pandemic, and moved during the lockdown. (Real estate is categorized as an essential service in Nevada, and if you have to move, you have to move. With all kinds of social distancing and protective gear and all that.)

I have a suggestion. It is based on our experience of the last ten days or so. It’s free consulting, worth exactly what you paid.

I think this applies mostly to iBuyers, but it can be something offered by traditional brokers and agents. Here it is:

Offer handyman services after closing, but before move-in.

It’s a pretty simple idea, I know, but one that I think could be a nice profit center for companies and a huge convenience for consumers.

Our Experience

We bought a lovely house in Las Vegas, a city we have come to love and think will be home. And that’s with the prospect of a major economic depression in our area for the next few years. #VegasStronger ain’t gonna change the economic facts on the ground.

It’s a great house and needed very little work, which was a selling point for us, because we’re old now and busy as hell and in no mood to be tackling some fixer-upper project.

However, like every house I imagine ever with every homeowner I imagine ever, unless you did a brand new construction from scratch and picked out every little detail, there will be a number of small items that you will want changed, fixed, added, removed, etc. etc. once the house is yours.

For us, it was things like straightening the kitchen cabinet fronts, adding shelving, garage storage, changing out some overhead light fixtures, new faucets for bathrooms, etc. Sunny singlehandedly painted two rooms. For the record, I offered to help, but she rejected it because she does not trust me with a brush full of paint. And further for the record, should this whole real estate thing not work out, Sunny could have a career as a house painter; she’s really good, very detail oriented, and yeah, I would not have enjoyed working under her direction.

None of these were major items, so we did not make an issue of it during the transaction — nor should anyone of sound mind, in my opinion.

Furthermore, none of these things could be done until we actually owned the house. But that got me thinking….

iBuyers Have Flexibility….

It occurs to me that one of the signal benefits of the whole iBuyer experience for the buyer is flexibility. Every iBuyer boasts about how the buyer can pick his own closing date, so it can coordinate with other important dates: closing date on the buyer’s own home, end of a lease term, etc. etc.

It would be a simple thing for an iBuyer to offer a service to the buyer to set the closing date at X, then offer to have some minor (or frankly, major) repairs and such done at the new owner’s direction, and have the move-in date set at Y.

To give an example, we already know that most iBuyers clean the house after buying it from the old owner, often paint it, make minor repairs, etc. But iBuyers would paint the walls a nice neutral institutional (and less expensive) color: white, cream, beige, etc. The new homeowner might want some funky Dusky Rose or Urban Bronze or some such. That work is infinitely easier to do when the room is empty, rather than filled with furniture.

Just about everything a new homeowner might want to do to a house is easier when the house is empty.

…And They Have/Know/Could Get Contractors

Plus, by the very nature of their business, all iBuyers have a network of providers on the ground. Granted, the iBuyers themselves need those painters and handymen and electricians and the like to work on the homes they purchased and are in a rush to get ready for market, since time is quite literally money. However, there are other painters, contractors, electricians, plumbers and the like in any urban area who maybe did not meet whatever criteria that iBuyers have for providers on their own houses. They would welcome the opportunity to work for a new homeowner.

So it seems like a simple arrangement for the iBuyer to refer business to a network of providers, in exchange for a fee, while providing the new homeowner with real convenience. Hell, charge a service fee if the homeowner would prefer to have the iBuyer project manage the small projects. Another revenue source.

“Congratulations on buying your house! Now that it’s yours, is there any work you’d like done to the house before you move in? We can get started as soon as the transfer is recorded, but we can start planning now!”

Since the house is already vacant, the new buyer could take another tour even in the Time of Cholera, but as the future owner rather than as a shopper. This way, the new homeowners move into a house that is perfect for their unique needs, on their own timeline.

Brokers and Agents Can Do This Too

The only reason I thought of iBuyers first is that they have greater flexibility in the whole closing date/move-in schedule, since they own the house being sold and the house is already vacant. There is no reason other than those two why traditional brokers and agents could not offer the same, as long as the buyer has some flexibility.

I’m thinking “handyman services” only because major renovations were likely the subject of negotiations during the transaction. But hey, if the buyers are willing to pay the mortgage and stuff on the new house while getting a whole new roof added, that’s on them.

Think of it kind of like a pre-listing renovation but post-closing work. I imagine the service providers would be more than willing to do a revenue share with you for the business, and if you’re already doing stuff like project managing the pre-listing work, you likely have the capability to provide the same service to your buyers.

I know many agents have a network of people they recommend readily to their clients; I’m suggesting going an extra step and offering it to them after closing but before move-in, if they have the flexibility.

Of course, some folks are super handy, and into DIY. That’s on them, but it seems like a nice gesture to offer such things. Think speed, certainty and convenience as much as possible. 🙂

-rsh

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Rob Hahn

Rob Hahn

Managing Partner of 7DS Associates, and the grand poobah of this here blog. Once called "a revolutionary in a really nice suit", people often wonder what I do for a living because I have the temerity to not talk about my clients and my work for clients. Suffice to say that I do strategy work for some of the largest organizations and companies in real estate, as well as some of the smallest startups and agent teams, but usually only on projects that interest me with big implications for reforming this wonderful, crazy, lovable yet frustrating real estate industry of ours.

1 thought on “An Idea for iBuyers (or Brokers and Agents) From Personal Experience”

  1. Agree with you in the value. My best friends just bought a new house, and did hardwood floors and painting prior to moving in.

    Brokers/agents could add a service such as Setter (https://setter.com/) to the mix, as part of the transition to the new owner. They could do that sort of work with their network of contractors. And relieve the agent of having to start up a new handyman biz 🙂

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