Although much of the conversation about iBuyers focuses on Opendoor, Offerpad and RedfinNow, there are a plethora of independent and brokerage-owned options that are striving to claim their piece of the iBuyer market — which has “blown past all previous records by a wide margin,” according to real estate analyst Mike DelPrete.
Keller Williams entered the ring in 2019 with Keller Offers, a platform that helps homeowners and homesellers navigate the home renovation and homeselling processes — all, of course, with the guidance of a Keller Williams agent. “I feel like I have no choice now,” Keller Williams Founder Gary Keller told Inman in 2019 of his decision to enter the iBuyer arena. “I can’t allow Opendoor or Zillow to go out and be the only player in the iBuyer space and then begin to dictate terms and build [a] brand around ‘they buy houses.’”
In three years, Keller Offers has expanded from the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex to 36 markets primarily across the South and Midwest, as the brokerage focuses on mid-tier markets that other iBuyers and proptech platforms tend to overlook in favor of pricier, coastal locales.
“Our agents are excited and ready to meet the demands of consumers with our robust iBuyer offering,” Keller Offers Director of Operations Gayln Ziegler said of the iBuyer’s expansion strategy in late 2019. “This partnership enables us to provide an iBuyer offering to more consumers, in more market sizes, while leveraging Keller Williams’ [number one] agent count footprint within the U.S.”
The franchisor doesn’t share statistics related to Keller Offers; however, agents rave about the value proposition of having access to an in-house iBuyer. “I became certified in the Keller Offers Cash Offer program so I can offer more options to my clients and prospects,” Austin-based agent Gregory Chan said in a verified review on Keller Offers homepage. “I have had several sellers request a cash offer, and it’s helped them decide whether they want to accept the offer or go the traditional route.”
“The Keller Offers Cash Offer program is one way to keep it in-house, instead of our clients going to iBuyer sites on their own,” he added.
Here’s a brief overview of how Keller Offers platform works and how Keller Williams agents can get plugged in:
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The Keller Offers experience for consumers
Keller Offers is exclusively for Keller Williams agents and clients who work with them. “We distinguish our offerings from competitors by remembering the consumer experience is our north star and all consumers deserve representation,” the platform’s homepage explains. “Keller Offers is an accelerator of Keller Williams Realty International and exclusively works through Keller Williams agents.”
Homesellers are invited to start the cash offer process themselves by providing their address, which enables Keller Offers to make a preliminary offer based on public information. From there, homesellers are connected with a Keller Offers certified agent who will guide them through the process of receiving a final offer, which includes a digital walkthrough or physical inspection.
Within 72 hours, homesellers will receive a set of final offers from individual and institutional investors and be asked to choose their desired offer and closing date, which can be up to 90 days from the date of offer acceptance. “We’ve diversified our funding sources and partners in the best interest of our agents and consumers,” Keller Offers Director of Operations Gayln Zeigler told Inman in 2020. “Our goal, working with multiple funding partners, is to also provide more than one cash offer on a property.”
If a homeseller isn’t happy with their final offer, they can walk away or opt into Keller Offers’ Ready To Sell program, which allows sellers to optimize their home’s market value while avoiding up-front costs. The seller’s certified Keller Offers agent will guide them through a pre-listing home inspection list, which provides a list of repairs with the highest return on investment.
Homesellers will have the final say on which repairs they’d like to make, which could include a kitchen overhaul, bathroom redesign, outdoor landscaping and other projects that will add to their home’s value. Agents will coordinate repairs with a list of KW-verified vendors. Homesellers don’t have to pay for repairs until closing.
Lastly, Keller Offers has a variant of the Ready To Sell program for homeowners, called Ready To Stay. With this option, homeowners are matched with a Keller Offers certified agent who will help them understand which repairs will boost the value of their home and coordinate the renovation process. When it comes to financing, homeowners can choose one of five financing options ranging from one to 12 years with annual percentage rates (APR) between zero and 9.99 percent.
How agents can become Keller Offers certified
The Keller Offers program is open to all Keller Williams agents based in a Keller Offers market. To become Keller Offers certified, agents must create a Keller Offers account using their name, brokerage email, KW Market Center number and phone number.
From there, they’ll be required to attend a 2.5 hour live or on-demand webinar that explains the ins and outs of the platform and receive at least a 70 percent on the final exam given at the end of the webinar. Once they’ve completed the webinar and created a Keller Offers account, they can begin requesting cash offers on behalf of their sellers as part of their listing strategy.
“The Keller Offers Cash Offer program enables Keller Williams agents to get a Cash Offer on their client’s home while staying involved in the transaction,” the Keller Offers agent homepage explains. “Presenting and marketing an additional Cash Offer option is a differentiator and valuable tool for your lead generation and marketing. You are able to present an option for almost any seller’s situation.”
Agents can request offers, keep track of offers, access marketing materials and other Keller Offers training materials on their Keller Offers dashboard. If they need help with the platform, Kellers Offers provides live customer service weekdays from 8 am to 5 pm in agents’ timezone. Agents also have access to a private Facebook group, which enables agents to share best practices for getting the most out of the platform.
Keller Offers doesn’t provide a specific compensation fee on its agent homepage; however, Head of Keller Offers RJ Jones told HousingWire in August 2021 that Keller Offers certified agents “can receive between 2-3 percent [commission], which is comparable to a market listing, as their client’s homes are sold via Keller Offers.”
Keller Offers executives weren’t available for comment on the ins and outs of the platform; however, a Keller Williams spokesperson provided a copy of the selling points and best practices agents receive after getting certified. It reads as follows:
- “It’s important for agents to continually educate their database and sphere of influence on all newer types of home selling opportunities, including iBuying and associated concierge home services. For example, Keller Williams clients can pursue a no-obligation cash offer on their home and/or they can or renovate their home to later sell on the market through a “Ready to Sell” program, offered through Keller Offers.
- Educating and informing clients is key.
- If clients think about a cash offer on their home or need a renovation solution, we want them to think of their real estate agent first.
- When choosing an iBuying option, having a real estate agent in the equation allows a consumer to have a fiduciary to ensure they’re making an informed decision. That’s what Keller Offers provides.
- We also recommend agents use iBuying marketing to lead generate. It’s important to use additional selling options to differentiate yourself in this low-inventory, highly competitive market.
- The more options you have as a real estate agent, the more you are highlighting yourself as an expert in the space.”
At Jones’ last estimate, there are currently 6,000 to 7,000 Keller Williams certified agents across the country. “Consumers are engaging with competing types of opportunities,” he told HousingWire. “Having this service available, it is a way to make sure our agents are providing more value but providing an option that removes worries or stress in the context of what that homeseller is going through.”
He added, “The intersection of all these services is where we think of the integrated experience.”
What’s next for Keller Offers
When Keller Offers came on the scene in 2019, real estate analyst and leading iBuyer expert Mike DelPrete told Inman the platform could be Opendoor’s “nightmare scenario” as the franchisor’s then-160,000 agents could be “in people’s living rooms and kitchens waving around an iBuyer brochure and saying, ‘We do that, too.”
The platform hasn’t risen to the level of being a toe-to-toe competitor with Opendoor, as it dropped Offerpad as an exclusive partner in June 2020 and seems to have taken a decidedly slower approach to growth and a lower-profile marketing strategy compared to Keller Williams other segments.
In a brief conversation with Inman, DelPrete said he hasn’t particularly kept up with Keller Offers since his February 2019 Inman Connect New York commentary about it potentially overshadowing Opendoor. However, he said the emergence of brokerage-owned iBuying solutions is something everyone should pay attention to, as everyone races to build their own one-stop-shop for consumers.
“Whether it’s Keller Williams or Realogy, these traditional industry behemoths have also launched their own iBuyer solutions on their own, and you’ve got tens of thousands of agents, with the brochures right in people’s living rooms saying, ‘Oh, yeah, you saw commercials for this instant sale thing. We have that too. Here’s what it is,’” he said. “That’s the long and short of it. That’s all that matters, right? The big incumbents have launched these and now they get to say, ‘Yeah, we do that, too.’”
DelPrete said the value proposition of Keller Offers and similar brokerage-run platforms, is that they do the heavy lifting for consumers who don’t have the bandwidth to compare and contrast platforms on their own. “For a consumer, it’s very difficult to differentiate between Keller Williams agent versus a company you just heard on the radio or saw on TV,” he said. “[The iBuying process] for consumers is you hear about it, you explore it, and then you form a judgment. But, you know, I don’t know that a lot of consumers have the patience to shop around or submit a form for two or three offers.”
Although they’re currently one of the smaller players in the iBuying field, Keller Williams still seems to be set on making DelPrete’s prediction come true as it sets its sights on reaching 100 markets soon.
“We see the future of the homeownership experience involving the combination of leading technology, essential services and lasting relationships between homeowners and their KW agents,” Jones told Inman in 2021 of his appointment to lead Keller Offers and Keller Manage, its home maintenance platform. “To stay well ahead of the relentless pace of disruption and innovation in our industry, we intend to aggressively expand our platform of value to agents and their clients in buying, owning, and selling a home.”