This Week in Real Estate: iBuyers come to Houston, the Development of Distinction Awards 2019 finalists, and more

by Morgan Mereday

New tech-savvy companies have entered the housing industry, are challenging traditional real estate agents, and are now moving to the Houston area. These companies, called iBuyers, are products of a developing industry of technology centric real estate companies. These companies purchase homes from consumers directly before rushing to post the property back on the market with the intention of earning more than they originally paid.  

These companies are infiltrating the Houston area advertising the economic advantage of convenience. iBuyers charge home sellers inflated fees of up to 10 percent rather than the traditional 6 percent commission fee. Participating in a transaction with one of these companies allows sellers to not have host showings and open houses and can help them save large sums of money by avoiding several months of mortgage payments.  

Traditional real estate businesses such as Coldwell Banker’s parent company and Keller Williams are dipping into the iBuying housing industry. Coldwell Banker’s parent company has recently announced the launch of their pilot program that provides some home sellers in Dallas and Atlanta the option of accepting cash offers from the agency. Keller Williams has also been testing their own iBuyer program, which closed nearly 100 transactions within the past year.  

“We’re finally giving buyers and sellers what they want — delivering on convenience and certainty, things sellers couldn’t have before, ” said Julia DeWahl, a general manager at Opendoor, an iBuyer company.  

 In other real estate news:  

  • The Houston District Council of the Urban Land Institute announced the 2019 finalists for the Development of Distinction Awards. Nine finalists compete for the prestigious award, which acknowledges developments and spaces modeled after the national Urban Land Institute Global Awards for Excellence and exhibits exemplary practices in construction, design, healthy locations, marketing, economic growth, and management.  
  • The original location of the Imperial Sugar Land factory was sold to SLP-90A on Oct. 2 and is to be reconstructed into a mixed use project. The property is to consist of office and retail space, hotel space, restaurant, and housing housing space under the title of The Imperial Market project. 
  • The implementation of the Opportunity Zone program has encouraged Houston to designate 150 districts as opportunity zones. The program was pushed by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Acts, and is predicted to use long-term investments to insert millions of dollars into low-income neighborhoods. Houston has designated regions such as Downtown, Greenspoint, and Sunnyside as areas for opportunity zones.  
  • Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Gary Greene, Houston’s oldest real-estate firm, has announced their merger with Blake Wilcox Properties, LLC, a brokerage working with North Houston and Montgomery County markets. Blake and Emily Wilcox will work under Gary Greene as The Blake Wilcox Group. 

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