RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Competition in the red-hot Triangle and Charlotte real estate markets is about to get even more intense with the looming arrival of Zillow, joining two other firms – Opendoor and Knock – which are looking to disrupt the traditional means by which owners sell their homes.

Zillow Offers, a service for homeowners to help sell their house, will launch in Raleigh-Durham and in Charlotte by the end of the year, the company announced today.

The offering, which is already available in Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Atlanta, gives homeowners yet another option in selecting when and how to sell their house. Zillow is an online real estate database company that launched in 2006 and over the years has expanded into different businesses.

The Triangle housing market is seeing double-digit appreciation despite rising mortgage interest rates, WRAL TechWire reported last week.  Startups working to disrupt the traditional Realtor-broker real estate sales model have taken notice.


Earlier this year, both Knock and Opendoor opened in the Triangle and in Charlotte, and Opendoor’s data is demonstrating that they’ve penetrated to more than 5 percent of the total real estate market in less than a year of operations in the region, said spokesperson Cristin Culver.

Opendoor plans to leverage an additional $400 million investment from SoftBank to hire additional staff in the Raleigh office, further develop their technology and product offerings, and to expand their services to assist home buyers and sellers.

The Charlotte market is also experiencing surging demand, particularly for homes under $200,000.  Those homes sell substantially faster than more expensive homes listed for sale, said Mike Henry, Opendoor’s General Manager in Charlotte, “indicating the lack of supply is predominantly with less expensive homes.”

In June, Knock’s Deals Forecast showed that homes in Raleigh or Durham listed under $200,000 have the most potential for savings as a percentage based on list price.  So while both markets are hot overall, the data suggests that the old adage about real estate still holds true: location, location, location.

Knock CEO Sean Black said the Zillow decision reflects strategies by firms such as Knock, Zillow and Opendoor to give consumers additional options.
“Generally, we are excited by the continued innovation in our space and the increased options for consumers to have more certainty and transparency around the biggest transaction of their lives,” Black told WRAL TechWire. “We have an incredible consumer value proposition in our unique Home Trade-in model, and are happy to have that compared to other new ways of buying and selling your home, as we almost always win the customer’s heart and mind in those comparisons.”

Demand increases competition for these homes in both Raleigh and Charlotte, said Henry, and the wage gap compounds the challenges that lower wage earners experience in the marketplace in both cities.

“People who make more can flex up or down on their purchase price, whereas folks who make less are constrained to a certain pricepoint and the competition is more fierce.”

Zillow entering the market

Zillow’s entrance into both Charlotte and Triangle real estate markets demonstrates the company sees opportunity in the surging prices of homes in the region. Zillow Offers lets would-be home sellers request a no-obligation cash offer from Zillow to purchase their home.

If accepted, Zillow directly purchases the seller’s house, prepares it to be shown, and lists it for sale, so sellers do not have to do so.

According to Zillow’s latest research, 61 percent of home sellers are also buying a new residence at the same time, which many folks reports adds stress and financial complexity to the process.

The set-your-own-timeline model allows for sellers to navigate their next home purchase without needing to write contingent offers.

Both Opendoor and Knock operate to reduce this major pain point for sellers as well. Knock offers their home trade-in program, and Opendoor does as well.  Both companies also provide services to buyers and sellers pursuing individual transactions rather than dual transactions.

Zillow works with local agents and brokers during every transaction, the company said in announcing its expansion.  Specifically, Zillow pays a commission to local real estate agents when it buys and sells each home, with the company continuing to service agents and brokerages that already partner with Zillow to identify and connect with potential buyers and sellers.

“Zillows entrance into the markers validates the concept,” said Cristin Culver, a spokesperson for Opendoor.  “We’re seeing that the real estate ecosystem is evolving to respond to what buyers and sellers want.”

While Zillow Offers is agent-focused, said Culver, Opendoor aims to keep the customer at the center of the transaction.

Ultimately, all three new entrants to the Triangle and Charlotte real estate markets are looking to capitalize on surging demand while reducing typical pain points associated with buying or selling a property.