San Diegans will soon have a new, and much more convenient way, to sell their homes.
With a few taps on their computers or phones, they could get an all-cash offer from real-estate tracker Zillow for their property.
The program, called Zillow Offers, adds speed, convenience and certainty to a process that often requires patience, home staging, visits from complete strangers, and frustration over transactions falling through.
"What we're trying to do is help homeowners solve one of the biggest problems they have," said Jeremy Wacksman, President of Zillow. "If you're selling and buying at the same time, trying to get all that done and project managing that even with the help of a great agent is hard."
Zillow plans to launch the program in San Diego in early 2020.
Homeowners would answer a few questions about their property online, getting an initial offer. If interested, they can arrange for an in-home inspection. A day or two after that, they'll get a formal cash offer they can consider.
But that certainty comes at a price.
Zillow makes its offer based on a variety of factors, including how long they believe they will have to hold the property and what they can sell it for.
The company also deducts the costs of any repairs it deems necessary, with no room for negotiation. Typically, their offer comes with a 7 percent fee, which is 1 to 2 percent more than the average commission.
Mark Goldman, a loan officer for C-2 Financial, said Zillow's offer likely comes with a cost.
"For somebody who needs to do a fast transaction, it might be a suitable option, but you're not going to get top dollar for your house if you're going to do that," he said.
San Diego Realtor Gary Kent said he could also negotiate on behalf of the seller in a traditional sale, not just to get the most money but also in case there are any requests over repairs.
Zillow's program is currently active in Riverside County.
Kristofer Kisner, who is selling his four-bedroom home in Lake Elsinore to Zillow for $410,000, said he believes he got fair market value.
Currently, Redfin and Opendoor also offer online homebuying services. They also typically charge 7 to 8 percent commissions.