iBuyers: Friend or Enemy

September 30, 2021
6:03 pm

Our Guest: Bridget Lyons, Zavvie

There are more options than ever before for homeowners considering selling their home. Fathom Offers lays out all the choices for your sellers and keeps you at the center of the transaction. Learn from Bridget Lyons, Zavvie, on how to utilize Fathom Offers in your business. 

Wednesday, October 6th @ 1:30 PM Central Time.

Show Transcript:

0:00:00.2 Geoffrey Stertz: Hello, and thanks again for joining us for another Fathom Live, a live stream show dedicated to giving you tips and insights from experts in and around the real estate industry. I am your host, Geoff Stertz. So glad to be with you here today. Today we have with us Bridget Lyons from Zavvie. Bridget, welcome.

0:00:16.8 Bridget Lyons: Hi, welcome. Thanks for having me. Really happy to be here.

0:00:20.9 GS: Great. And you’re hailing from Boulder, Colorado.

0:00:24.5 BL: That is correct. Yeah, it’s sunny and beautiful here.

0:00:27.9 GS: That’s awesome. And what is your title there at Zavvie?

0:00:32.2 BL: So I’m the Broker Success Manager. I work with all of the leadership with the brokerages that we partner with to get them onboarded and implement their Zavvie tools.

0:00:42.0 GS: Okay. We’re gonna get to some questions here and we’re gonna also ask whether iBuyers are your friend or your enemy today, but first I wanna… Well, first of all, if you want to know stuff about iBuying and about Fathom Offers, about zavvie, who’s powering Fathom Offers, and any of it in this program, now is your chance because you can field those questions, we’ll be monitoring them on YouTube and Facebook, and then if it’s a question that’s pertinent to our discussion today, we’d love to talk about it if we have time, so give us a shout out. Also, if you say, “Hey, Geoff.” From Wiley, Texas or wherever you’re from on either of the feeds, you’re automatically entered into a drawing to win one of three different prizes. You can win a yard sign package up to $200, you can win a photo listing package for your next listing, also valued up to $200, and you can also earn… Or you can win a package from GoSocial Agent with their lead service, so those three. So all you gotta do is just drop your name and the winner of last week’s drawing or the two weeks ago was Angela Wilson. So congrats Angela on winning that drawing.

0:01:57.1 GS: Our sponsor today is Encompass Lending, making the dream of home ownership a reality through concierge customer service, accountable actions and a can-do attitude. They’re ready to help you. They’re ready to make that transaction as smooth as possible, and so give them a look, and I think you’ll be happy with that. Well, let’s just jump right into things. Bridget, so are you the enemy or is iBuyers? No, so I’m actually gonna ask you first of all, because I’m gonna assume that there are people that really haven’t really encountered iBuying too much. So first of all, what is an iBuyer?

0:02:32.8 BL: Yes, so there are different varieties of iBuyers, but ultimately they’re institutional buyers who are purchasing homes for cash.

0:02:42.2 GS: Gotcha, okay, so they are ready to buy homes for cash at the right price, and that totally… I’ll say in a sense, it totally skips the sort of traditional transaction of listing my house, showing it to a bunch of people and then finding that right buyer, qualifying them, etcetera, etcetera, and them buying the house with the potential of walking out, all those kind of different things, so these are cash buyers, ready to buy your house.

0:03:14.8 BL: Yes. Yeah, homeowners can avoid the hassle with the open market, not having to do those showings or open houses, and it is a cash offer, so they have that certainty and they can also close rather quickly. Sometimes in as little as seven days.

0:03:30.5 GS: Okay, so iBuyers, in some cases, have become a bit of a problem for real estate agents because they can side-skirt basically the agent and cut them out of the transaction, and that’s… It’s obviously bad for the agent because that’s your livelihood, but it’s also… It can be bad for the homeowners because they don’t have that person in their corner protecting their interests, and you may have an iBuyer come in with an offer or something that’s just not fair, and you don’t have somebody representing you.

0:04:04.1 BL: Mm-mmm. You’re exactly right.

0:04:06.6 GS: So how does Zavvie… And again, for those of you just tuning in here, Zavvie powering Fathom Offers, how do you guys come into the picture to where this isn’t a bad deal for the agent?

0:04:22.5 BL: Yeah. So Fathom Offers is…

0:04:23.9 GS: Or the client?

0:04:26.1 BL: Right. Fandom Offers is about keeping the agent at the center of that transaction. You said earlier, are iBuyers the enemy, or do you wanna become best friends with them? We’re not pushing you to become best friends with iBuyers with Fathom Offers, but they are real options for consumers. So we want an agent to be the one to be able to get those offers for their clients. We say co-opt iBuyer offers, and still allow the client to choose that option if they’d like, but now they still have that agent representation, someone who has their best interests in mind and can help negotiate through that transaction.

0:05:06.8 GS: Okay. So you’re bringing iBuyers and agents with clients to the table together to try to make the best transaction possible, keeping the agent in that process?

0:05:19.4 BL: Yeah. Yeah, so the agent consultant commission and the consumer can get the convenience and a quick cash offer from an iBuyer.

0:05:28.8 GS: Okay, so in what kind of situations do you see this becoming a tool? And that’s what I’m hearing too, that this is a tool in your tool belt that, love it or hate it, and there’s a deeper philosophical question there that could be asked probably on a different show, or people can talk about, but love it or hate it, they’re there and there’s gonna be iBuyers knocking at seller’s doors all the time, ready to just offer what they have and again, maybe cutting their agent out of the picture. So they’re there, and so I’m hearing that this is a tool and the agent’s tool belt to be able to say like, “Look, if that’s the route that you wanna go, we’re here. We’ve got this program that you can skip the whole house showing thing, and we’ve got buyers ready to buy your house, basically.” So in what scenario do you see that kind of emerging?

0:06:27.4 BL: Yeah. So like you said, consumers know that these options are out there. They’re hearing about iBuyer, they’re seeing the marketing. And we want agents to be able to lead that conversation, letting them know that it’s not an either or situation, either they sell with a real estate professional on the open market, or they go directly to an iBuyer and sell unrepresented. And so we encourage agents to bring this up as early on in the conversation as possible, letting the client know that they have Fathom Offers available where they can get all of those offers, and the offers are always free with no obligation. So even if the client isn’t necessarily wanting an iBuyer offer, they can still see what that offer comes in as, consider it, and then if it… If a listing on the open market’s going to be a better route for them, then they can just go ahead and do that.

0:07:22.4 GS: Gotcha. And you mentioned that the agent gets paid. Are they being paid when you list a home, in other words, you’ve got your declared commission on there? Is that… They’re getting that? It’s not like some sort of discounted rate that the agent’s having to put out there in order to get these kind of things, leave these kind of offers?

0:07:47.6 BL: Yeah. So the commission’s still going to be whatever is agreed upon between the agent and the seller in their listing agreement.

0:07:56.9 GS: Gotcha.

0:07:58.0 BL: So typically, 3%. We don’t really hear agents discounting that price. That’s paid by the seller client to the agent at closing. And then on top of that, some of the iBuyers do offer a referral commission, so an agent could even make an extra 1-2%, which is paid by the iBuyer, so no extra money out of the client’s pocket.

0:08:20.1 GS: Gotcha. Alice asked from Facebook here, “Are your iBuyer… ” I would assume so, but, “Are your iBuyers mostly investors?”

0:08:31.0 BL: Yup. Typically they are. Most iBuyers are looking to purchase homes where they just make a few repairs, and then they sell them again on the open market for a profit. But some other iBuyers hold onto those homes and keep them as rental properties.

0:08:47.5 GS: Got it. So this morning when I was scrolling through Facebook, there was an ad that said, “Buy before you sell.” And I know there’s other programs that’s, “Sell before you buy.” What are those two different programs, and who are you bringing to the table in those programs?

0:09:06.8 BL: Yup. So we call those buyers power buyers. They offer non-traditional bridge-type loans, but they are helping, like you said, clients either sell before you buy or buy before you sell. So depending on what market you’re in will determine which power buyers are available, but you can always go to Fathom Offers and find that out through our Customer Success Team. EasyKnock is the power buyer that is sell before you buy. So EasyKnock’s going to come into the home from your client, they’re going to unlock up to 90% of the client’s equity, but allow them to stay in the home and lease back for up to 12 months. So now your client can go make a non-home scale contingent offer on their next property, and they have that added flexibility of 12 months for when they’re moving into that new home. Once they are ready to sell the original home on the open market, the agent that brought that deal to EasyKnock, they’re still the listing agent, they still get their full commission on that sale, and they and the seller client determine what that list price is going to be. And once it closes on the open market, then the client receives that remaining 10% commission, plus any appreciation.

0:10:28.8 GS: Gotcha.

0:10:29.9 BL: The power buyers that are buy before you sell, we have Knock and Ribbon. And so they’re actually going to go in and purchase home B on behalf of the client, and they can go in with a strong cash offer, so they’re helping more homeowners be able to secure their dream home, again, not having a home sale contingency kind of making it more difficult to win multiple offer situations.

0:10:56.3 GS: Okay. So kinda starting with the one that you just mentioned there, buy before you sell means that that power buyer will help me buy my next home to give me a little bit of breathing room before I sell my current home, so I don’t feel like I have to have these contingencies in my contract. The second half of my journey is already taken care of. The first half of my journey now gives… There’s more time. There’s more time to do that.

0:11:26.8 BL: Right. Yup. And then the homeowner doesn’t have to pay two different mortgages at the same time. Once they are ready to sell their existing home, they will, of course, be able to use those funds to then re-purchase home B back from the power buyer.

0:11:42.5 GS: Okay. And I didn’t ask you this before, but still with the buy before you sell. So I’m shopping on a… Through, let’s say, 30 different homes, maybe I’m moving a state away, whatever. So then I have to… I find the home I like, and then I go to the Fathom Offers through the program and say, “Okay, this is the home I wanna buy. Are you okay with that?” Is there like… How does that work?

0:12:09.3 BL: Yeah. For the buy before you sell, it definitely makes it easier to already have that home that you wanna purchase in mind. However, you can start with just a price range. The agent can go through Fathom Offers, reach out to those power buyers on behalf of the client, and say like, “This is our price range, what we’re looking at, these are the areas we’re looking at. If we find a home, what are the numbers going to look like if we go through a power buyer offer?”

0:12:39.0 GS: Gotcha. Okay. So that’s buy before you sell. And then you mentioned earlier, sell before you buy. That gives me the flexibility to, Okay, the house is sold, cash offer, that’s all buttoned up. Now, whatever the agreement is, now I’ve got X many months to find that home. Because I… We had David Knocks on here several months ago, and he talked about home buying right now is kinda like driving around a parking lot in a busy Walmart or Costco or something like that, because they’re there, they’re coming available, but sometimes you have to just kind of keep your eye up and see, “Okay, alright, there’s finally one here. It took me a few more weeks than I wanted to get the one I wanted, but it came available.” So this allows you to have that freedom to say, “Okay, I’ve sold my home, now I’ve got the cash ready to put a down payment on this other home, and I’m not having to time this, because it could be four months before I find that home that I’m happy with.”

0:13:39.4 BL: Exactly. Yeah. It’s like trying to get the stars to align to be able to line up a closing for the sale of your home and the purchase of your next home. So this adds that flexibility, doesn’t let the home owner end up being homeless, they don’t have to do two different moves if they do sell their home before they’re able to find their next one. And so it’s really helpful for those clients who are fearful of venturing into the selling market.

0:14:06.5 GS: Right. Which agents can do that with regular buyers too. They can say like, “Hey, we’re putting this house on the market, but we’re including the desire to be able to live in it for three months before we get to the next place.” And there’d be people that are perfectly happy with that. But here, you have somebody that that’s kinda their deal. That’s what they’re accustomed to is, “Yeah, we understand we might have to hold this home for a few months until you’re out of it while you’re looking for your second home.” Alice, was this the same Alice? Did I say Alice earlier? Yeah, I did. So Alice asked another great question, “Are these buyers offering fair market value or are they looking for discounted homes?”

0:14:49.5 BL: So that’s going to vary depending on the market, depending on the property. And so you can submit a property through your Fathom Offers tools, and generate estimated offers which are… That those estimates are generated based on market data that our team has collected. So we’re seeing what the iBuyers are actually purchasing homes for in your area, and you can get an idea of what those offers might come in as, but you won’t know the real offer until you request, and they actually send them over. We do see iBuyers are continuing to make very strong offers. Some are coming in well above market value. But we also have some other iBuyers who we call wholesale iBuyers who specifically purchase homes that need major repair renovations. So they are going to make an offer that is below market value.

0:15:48.9 GS: Right, right. Because they’re incurring a lot of risk and cost and…

0:15:51.1 BL: Exactly.

0:15:52.6 GS: That kinda thing. So answer is, it depends. [chuckle]

0:15:56.7 BL: Yes.

0:15:57.2 GS: Situation by situation. And I do wanna ask you about the process here in just a second. There’s another… I guess another comment here. Rob Fountain said, “50% of my listings have been sold to iBuyers in the past three months, and never went on the open market.” And he’s a fan. So there’s people… Yeah. That’s a lot, a lot of people ready to buy those homes. And the marketplace is the marketplace, and so if these iBuyers wanna buy a home, they’re stuck with it until they can find somebody that can make them money based on this… Either the length at which they hold it, or what they’ve done to improve it. And of course, there’s, obviously, the convenience factor that maybe you’ve got some repairs. You’re in the middle of a bathroom remodel, or you just don’t have the time or feel like staging and getting all your home perfect. The iBuyer is probably gonna be a lot more likely to give those homes a look than somebody that’s really looking for that curb appeal. So there’s the convenience factor of that. Just a question before we get to the process. Does zavvie get paid per transaction? In other words, are you guys just looking to get that next home sold, or how does that work with you guys?

0:17:09.8 BL: Yeah. So zavvie, we are paid through a licensing fee from brokerages. So we partner with brokerages to make sure that their agents have these tools available to them.

0:17:21.4 GS: Okay. So you’re not just looking to crank out as many homes as possible. You guys are looking to make sure that the relationship between the home, the agent, the home buyer and these power buyers or iBuyers are good and clean and…

0:17:35.4 BL: Yes. Yup. We wanna help preserve and protect that agent-client relationship, but still allow agents to be able to offer the… All options that are available in the marketplace.

0:17:46.8 GS: Okay. So if we… Oh, somebody asked you, “Does this work with new construction?” Interesting question.

0:17:53.2 BL: Typically, no. The iBuyers don’t look to purchase new construction homes. But that is a great option with the power buyers, if you do have a client who’s looking to build a new home, and they don’t know how the timeline is going to work out of when they need to sell their existing home. That’s a good opportunity.

0:18:13.0 GS: Okay. Great. Yeah.

0:18:13.9 BL: But if you do have one that you wanna sell that’s new construction, you can reach out to our Customer Success Team and see, depending on where it’s located, if there are any iBuyers available.

0:18:24.8 GS: Got it. Alright, so let’s get to the process then. I have a client, and they’re… Let’s say in my listing presentation or meeting with them for the first time, whatever, I say, “Hey, here’s what we have in front of us, options, opportunities to sell your home. Here is one of those options.” And they say, “Yeah. What would that look like?” From that point on, how does that work?

0:18:49.6 BL: Yes. So to initiate that conversation, we have what we call the offer optimizer tool, which is generating those estimates. So that’s something that agents can download as a PDF and bring with them to a listing presentation, and just get the conversation started, figure out what’s important to that client, are they interested in a convenient quick sale. If so, then they say, “Alright. In order for me to request all of those real offers, we do need to solidify our relationship.” So we do say best practice is for agents to get a listing agreement signed prior to taking the second step of requesting real offers. Once you have that agreement in place, in order to request the offers, you’ll go to our Offer Optimizer tool, which has a Next Step, Get Offers button, which is going to take you to a property questionnaire. So either the agent or the homeowner can fill that out, just gonna ask pretty standard property details, and that always goes directly to our Customer Success Team. And then we’re the ones doing the work in the background, actually requesting those offers from the different buyers and power buyers.

0:20:07.6 GS: Got it. Okay, so there’s… I can show my client initially, “Here’s the kind of ballpark estimate of what somebody would pay cash for, for your home.” So I’ve got that.

0:20:20.5 BL: Yeah, we can say, “This is what’s happening in the market currently. Based on what I think your home is valued at, you might be able to get offers around this price range.”

0:20:31.2 GS: Right, and that, of course, just like anything, doesn’t know what the upstairs of your house looks like, so there could be… There’s always things that change with the final prices. So I can generally say, like, “This isn’t the final price, but here’s what I think homes like yours are being sold for to these cash buyers, so are you interested in putting it out there?” And then from there, then I can go to that questionnaire and say, “Alright, here are the actual details of my home.” Then, you start getting people biting at it, at that point.

0:21:08.4 BL: Yep, yeah. So you’ll enter in all the property information. We also recommend taking a few pictures of the interior. Again, the homeowner can be the one doing that as well. All of that information will go to our Customer Success Team with Fathom Offers. And we’re going to reach out to those iBuyers and power buyers and request those free, no obligation offers on behalf of the agent. Any of the real offers that are actually sent over will go directly to the agent, so they’re always at the center of that conversation. We always make sure that they’re the main point of contact.

0:21:44.2 GS: Great, great, so there’s not a conversation happening between you guys and the home buyers that the agent’s unaware of, so.

0:21:54.8 BL: Correct. Yep, and we never reach out to the homeowner directly.

0:21:57.5 GS: Awesome. So then, once you’ve given the details to however many cash buyers are interested in a property like the one that you’re presenting to them, you guys actually kinda capitulate this list, put it together so that it’s real clear, like, “Okay, here’s options A, B, C, D. Here’s what they’re offering.” That’s essentially what I’m gonna get to be able to show to my agent?

0:22:22.7 BL: Yes, so that’s what we call the confirmed… The Confirmed Offer Report is what our Customer Success Team will prepare for the agent. It’ll be that side-by-side comparison of all the real offers that were received, next to what an open-market sale would look like. So that’s gonna be an easy way for agents to go to the client and be, like, “Here are all the options. Let’s talk through them. This is what you could expect to net with each one.”

0:22:51.5 GS: Awesome. So, last question, really. And feel free, if you have other pertinent things that you think, “Oh yeah, let’s talk about this.” But my last question is, how do you find these people? The buyers, the iBuyers, power buyers? And how do you ensure as best as you can, of course, people do what they do, but how do you ensure that, as I’m introducing this person, that the client, the agent’s client, is gonna be happy with how this transaction goes?

0:23:24.8 BL: Yes. So, zavvie, we have a Marketplace Manager, and that’s his entire job. He works with all these different iBuyers and power buyers, and we call them verified buyers, once we actually put them on the platform. So we’ve done our due diligence where we are in contact with those buyers, making sure that they are respecting that agent-client relationship, and that they are actually following through with those offers that they are submitting, and that they can actually close and purchase these homes.

0:23:57.0 GS: And I would assume from time to time, you have a bad egg, and you guys have to say, “You’re not participating in that program anymore.”

0:24:04.0 BL: Yep, yep. And then we’ll remove them, and we’ll let the brokerage and the agents know, “They still are technically a buyer in your market, but we’re not going to put your relationship at risk, so just know that we’re not going to request their offers.”

0:24:18.7 GS: Marika Clarke asks, “Do iBuyers request agents to send CMA with the offer?”

0:24:25.6 BL: No, they do not.

0:24:26.9 GS: Okay, yeah. Anything else? That kinda soaks up all the questions that were on the social media platforms here. Anything else that you wanna share in closing?

0:24:39.8 BL: Awesome. Yeah, I would just say, “Agents, if you haven’t yet used Fathom Offers, and you’re not sure where to access the tools or whatnot, you can jot down this phone number that I’ll share in just a second. That’s our Customer Success Team, specific to Fathom Offers. So you can text that number. You can ask them for the link to your marketplace, or you can simply text the property address, and they can let you know if that home is eligible for the various buyers. So that phone number is 310-695-2992.”

0:25:18.7 GS: Okay, I just put it onto YouTube. Maybe we can put it on Facebook as well, then. Oh, wow. Did everybody hear that applause or is that just me? I put it, I put it…

0:25:30.5 BL: I heard it.

0:25:30.6 GS: Did you? [chuckle] I don’t know if everybody heard that. It’s weird. I put a comment on YouTube, and I heard a bunch of claps, so… Anyway, that was distracting, so… Alright, so you can call that number. Any websites they can go to, to check this stuff out?

0:25:48.2 BL: Yeah, so your main marketplace link is Zavvie, Z-A-V-V-I-E.comfathomoffersoffer-optimizer.

0:26:03.1 GS: Alright, I think we’re gonna need to put that…

0:26:04.7 BL: I know it’s a little long, so again, if you don’t… If you weren’t able to get all that, just text the number and ask them for your marketplace link, and they can send it.

0:26:14.6 GS: Okay. We will put the link and the phone numbers in both YouTube and Facebook here.

0:26:21.7 BL: Perfect.

0:26:23.2 GS: Of course, Fathom agents, if you’re watching FathomWiki, you can go there as well and find that information. So, Bridget, thank you so much. I felt like it was very informative, and hopefully agents will realize, “Oh, man. I’ve got these tools that I can use that might be able to provide solutions that were just never even possible before with my buyers and sellers, so.”

0:26:47.3 BL: Yeah, well, thank you for having me. I appreciate it. I hope agents are excited. If you haven’t used Fathom Offers yet, hopefully you’ll give it a try. Again, the offers are always free with no obligation, so don’t worry. You can enter in an address, and you aren’t stuck with any of those offers that come through.

0:27:05.8 GS: Awesome. We will let you go. And for those of you still watching, if you haven’t checked us out, check us out at It’s a brokerage that works for you, and puts you at the center of your business, just like Fathom Offers puts you at the center of that transaction. Fathom Realty offers equity ownership, a powerful CRM, truly affordable health care, and tele-agents back-end proprietary transaction management system, multi-tiered support. You got people in your corner all the time, ready to help you. A great agent network and much, much more. So you can check us out at We’ll see you in a couple of weeks. 

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