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Real estate juggernaut Zillow is going to start buying and flipping houses

Zillow is no longer playing the middleman in the real estate game. On Thursday, the Seattle-based company announced that it would expand testing of a pilot program in Phoenix, in which it will buy and sell homes directly. It’s a feature called “Instant Offer,” and as the name suggests, will allow customers to forego the negotiation process and effectively buy a home with just one click. Zillow would then “flip” the home, doing slight renovations and making general improvements in pursuit of a profit. The Instant Offers feature is already live in Las Vegas and Orlando, making Phoenix the third test market.

“Even in today’s hot market, many sellers are stressed and searching for a more seamless way to sell their homes,” said Zillow Chief Marketing Officer Jeremy Wacksman. “They want help, and while most prefer to sell their home on the open market with an agent, some value convenience and time over price. This expansion of Instant Offers, and Zillow’s entrance into the marketplace, will help us better serve both types of consumers as well as provide an opportunity for Premier Agents to connect with sellers. This is expected to be a vibrant line of business for us and for our partners in the real estate industry, while providing homeowners with more choices and information.”

The program seeks to help agents find motivated sellers who are looking to quickly offload their homes. Folks who allow their homes to be listed with an Instant Offer will receive “investor offers alongside a Premier Agent’s analysis of the home’s open market value within two business days of submitting basic information about their home,” Zillow explains. This process ought to ensure that the workings are transparent and convenient for sellers, and thus far, it appears to be working quite well.

Beginning this spring, Zillow will also begin making offers to home sellers. For folks in Phoenix and Las Vegas, sellers will be able to compare a real estate agent’s comparative market analysis to that of Zillow’s or other investors. And if Zillow ends up buying the home, it’ll “make necessary repairs and updates and list the home as quickly as possible.”

Zillow does lack the human touch needed to close a sale, which is why a local agent will be brought in to represent the company in the final purchase and sale.

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