As new home inventory continues to dwindle, home prices skyrocket to record-breaking numbers and buyer demand remains robust, agents are finding themselves in intense competition and bidding wars across the country. Real estate technology platform, HomeLight, is stepping in to help during this critical time in the industry, according to Lizzie Ryan, HomeLight communications manager.
HomeLight recently announced the expansion of its financial offerings, HomeLight Trade-In and HomeLight Cash Offer, to top real estate agents, homebuyers and sellers across Texas. A $100 million credit facility drives the expansion from Credit Suisse, a leading financial service provider.
These new financial offerings enable top agents to make real estate transactions possible for countless individuals who otherwise wouldn’t be able to compete by using traditional financing in today’s competitive real estate market.
“We want to deliverer better outcomes to buyers and sellers in every step of the home buying process,” Ryan told Houston Agent Magazine.
Jaymes Willoughby is a seasoned, Austin-based real estate agent who has been using HomeLight’s tools and services for several years. With 37 years of real estate experience, Willoughby sells about 200 to 300 homes every year with HomeLight’s help.
“With this competitive market, cash is queen. A cash offer is going to beat out higher financed offers because sellers want a sure deal,” Willoughby told Houston Agent Magazine. “I recently used HomeLight Cash Offer to beat 19 other offers on a home and win the deal.”
HomeLight Cash Offer gives agents and their clients the ability to make an all-cash offer on their next home, even if they need a mortgage. HomeLight Home Loans verifies the client’s income and assets to determine purchasing power. Once the client and their agent find a home, HomeLight makes an all-cash offer on the client’s behalf and holds the home until the client secures financing. As soon as the client’s loan closes, HomeLight sells the home to the client at the purchase price, plus a small program fee.
The program fee is generally about 1% of the home price, and there is a 3% fee if buyers choose to use a third-party lender.
HomeLight Trade-In helps agents and homeowners buy and sell at the same time while still capturing the total market value of their homes. HomeLight purchases the client’s home (usually for about 90% of the home’s expected value) to free up equity for the client before going through the complete listing process. HomeLight then lists and sells the home on the market with the agent for more than HomeLight’s purchase price, but the company pays the client the difference (minus a small program fee).
HomeLight Trade-In homes have sold for 5% above valuation, closed five times faster and helped clients save 3.5% on the purchase price of their new home compared to the traditional method of listing on the market.
Willoughby, an agent with Keller Williams Realty, added that the trade-in offer helps his clients not worry about life’s everyday problems, like how to get their kids and pets out of the house to show the home or do renovations.
“More business-savvy people understand the value of trading in a home rather than holding out to buy your next home while your current home sells,” Willoughby said. “I had a client who sold their home to HomeLight. I did some renovations on the home that added value to the property and then the home sold for tens of thousands of dollars more than the homeowner had sold it to HomeLight for. That money actually ended up going back to the client rather than to HomeLight. It was a win-win for all of us.”
The trade-in program fee depends on the market, lender and the number of days HomeLight owns the home. It can vary from 1.5 to 2% (3.5 to 4% if the client uses a third-party lender) of the final home selling price for the first 60 days HomeLight owns the home, plus a 0.5 to 1% charge prorated by day every 30 days after. All fees are calculated off of the final selling price of the current home.
Willoughby added that no home has taken over 60 days to sell after being purchased by HomeLight, even despite the historic winter storm that froze the state in February. Thus, no client has been charged those extra prorated fees yet.
HomeLight started as a tech company that would track agents’ stats and refer top agents to potential clients. To become a HomeLight agent, agents must undergo a thorough vetting process, usually requiring a five-star rating from past clients.
Willoughby is a HomeLight Elite Agent, a unique program within HomeLight that is only available to top agents who are doing an exceptional job in Texas. HomeLight Elite enhances what agents do and is a strong selling point for buyers and sellers alike.