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Smith & Associates partners with tech company to evaluate ‘instant offers’

Margie Manning

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Real estate brokerage Smith & Associates has a new technology tool to help homeowners evaluate purchase offers from direct home buying companies Opendoor and Offerpad.

Smith & Associates, the largest locally owned independent real estate brokerage in Tampa-St. Pete, has rolled out the Smith Offer Optimizer, which compares offers from iBuyers that say they will “instantly buy” homes.

It also gives Smith & Associate agents the opportunity to work with homeowners who might otherwise bypass the agent to sell their home directly to an iBuyer.

The technology was developed by zavvie, a Boulder, Colorado-based company that connects brokerages, agents and their clients with iBuyers. Zavvie has partnerships with brokerages nationwide, but Smith & Associates is the only brokerage in the Tampa-St. Pete area using the zavvie technology, said Stefan Peterson, chief operating officer and co-founder.

The Smith Offer Optimizer provides details such as the market price of a home, the length of time it likely would be on the market and the number of showings and inspections the owner should expect, comparing iBuyers with an open market sale. It also calculate the cost of the sale including service fees, commissions and closing costs for each type of sale, and estimates the net proceeds the owner would receive from a sale.

“It gives a seller a prospective idea of where the offer may come in through an instant buyer. If they say they think that’s the route they’d like to go, the agent assists them with going the next step and shopping out their property to get genuine offers back from the instant buyers. The seller still has the option to either take the offer or go to the traditional resale route,” said Nikki Phillips, vice president for real estate at Smith & Associates. “At every turn, the seller has the option to say I don’t think I’m interested.”

Bob Glaser

In some cases, iBuyers may provide quicker transactions, although a quick sale may not provide the highest value, Phillips said.

The technology provides “the best of both worlds,” said Bob Glaser, president and CEO of Smith & Associates. “Smith Offer Optimizer combined with the personal services provided by one of our associates help sellers make educated decisions,” he added.

Traditional real estate agents initially criticized the iBuyer model because no agent is required for a sale, according to the Houston Chronicle in a report on the partnership between zavvie and a Houston real estate brokerage. With the growth of iBuyers, “many [traditional real estate agents] are now pursuing a cut of iBuyer’s business by making the case that agents are needed even when selling directly to a large company,” the Chronicle report said.

“What we found is that many colleagues in our industry have been frustrated and pushed aside some of these alternatives. But we as a company said we have been the trusted real estate source for consumers in Tampa Bay for 50 years. We feel very strongly that our relationship to the community is important and want them to have that trusted resource of real estate experience and open, skilled assessment of values so that consumers can make the best decision,” Phillips said.

Smith & Associates has more than 300 associates in six Tampa-St. Pete area offices. Its  annual sales volume is $1.3 billion.

More than 8,000 real estate agents nationwide are using the zavvie platform to bring all options to the table for their home sellers, including selling to an iBuyer, zavvie said in an August news release.

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