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Zillow To Start Buying Homes In Metro Atlanta With New Service

In 2017, a sign advertised an existing home that was for sale in Roswell. This fall in Atlanta, Zillow will launch a service where it will buy homes.
In 2017, a sign advertised an existing home that was for sale in Roswell. This fall in Atlanta, Zillow will launch a service where it will buy homes.
Credit John Bazemore / Associated Press file

The website Zillow is known for listing homes that are available to buy. But this fall in Atlanta, Zillow will launch a service where it will actually buy homes, too.

And it’s just the latest tech company to do so.

Zillow President Jeremy Wacksman explains that his company’s program is aimed at a certain kind of scenario.

Home sellers have “found a house that they really want to buy. They’re upgrading for their family, or they’re moving for their job,” Wacksman said.

But they still have their current homes. And selling is stressing them out because the houses need repairs or cleaning.

With Zillow’s service, those people can go online and get cash offers for their homes, as is.

“And then we’re doing the work necessary to get ready to list it and listing it as quickly as possible,” Wacksman said.

Zillow will join a few other online companies in bringing this sort of high-tech home-flipping service to Atlanta. One is called Opendoor. Another is known as Knock.

So is this trend a good thing? Steven Swidler, a finance professor at Auburn University, said he doesn’t see why not.

“It’s just another avenue for you to sell your home,” he said.

Swidler said more buyers are good for homeowners who want to sell.

And he doesn’t expect companies, like Zillow, to pick up homes irresponsibly, like speculators did leading up to the housing crash a decade ago.

“They have very sophisticated statistical models to figure out the values of houses,” Swidler said. “So I don’t view their behavior as speculative behavior.”

Still, Bill Murray, board chairman of the Atlanta Realtors Association, doesn’t expect these tech companies to take over home sales.

Murray is with Berkshire Hathaway, a real estate agency that’s partnering with Zillow on its program. He said home sellers have to be willing to give up some of their home’s value.

“They’re paying for convenience. And they’ve got more money than time,” Murray said.

Atlanta will be Zillow’s third market for its direct homebuying program. The company already offers the service in Phoenix and Las Vegas.