Redfin Shuts Down Its iBuyer Unit. Will Opendoor and Offerpad Survive This Down Market?

The big news in real estate last week was the announcement by Redfin that it was shutting down its fix-and-flip unit called Redfin Now and has terminated 13% of its employees.

The end of the seller’s market has left iBuyer outfits like Redfin’s with homes they paid too much for and can only sell for a loss. A good example of that is Opendoor’s listing at 2090 Braun Drive in Applewood, which I mentioned in my column on August 11, 2022, under the headline, “Looking for Good Deal? Opendoor Is Slashing Prices to Clear Its Inventory.” As the MLS chart below shows, Opendoor purchased that home on Sept. 3, 2021, for $638,300, tried to flip it 4 months later for $652,000, and had already reduced its price to $620,000 by August. That home is still sitting on the market in November, now priced at $562,000 — $76,300 less than Opendoor paid for it over a year ago.

Opendoor currently has 165 unsold listings on REcolorado, the Denver MLS, and the median days on the MLS without selling is 115 — nearly 4 months. Once a home has been active without selling for about a month, Opendoor starts reducing the price, and pretty soon, their profit margin has disappeared.

In the last 30 days, Opendoor has closed on 68 listings, and the median days on the MLS for them was 90.  That median listing that was unsold for 3 months was purchased by Opendoor for $692,700, listed at $760,000 and sold for $650,000, representing an even bigger loss when you factor in the co-op commission paid to the buyer’s agent, renovation costs, and staff costs, not to mention the carrying cost of their investment in the property, property taxes, and more.

The company reported a $928 million loss for the third quarter ($573 million of which was from revaluing its unsold inventory), laid off 550 workers, and saw its stock price fall to just above $1. If it falls below $1 for a month, it will be delisted from NASDAQ.

How much longer can Opendoor and Offerpad, its one remaining competitor, (whose stock price is already under $1), sustain such losses? We’ll see, won’t we?

Big Brokerages’ Stocks Plummet Due to Slowing Market

The publicly traded brokerages are taking a beating, trading near their 2022 lows, as the following stock prices quoted last Wednesday by Inman News Service show:

Compass (COMP)     $3.28 +.07   (year range: $3.20-17.70) 

eXp World Holdings (EXPI)     $14.23  -.06   (year range: $11.06-55.43) 

Redfin (RDFN)    $9.40  -.08   (year range: $7.13-55.87) 

Zillow (Z)    $34.39   +.96  (year range: $28.61-104.05)

Offerpad (OPAD)  $1.61 -.02 (year range $1.60-20.97)

Opendoor (OPEN)   $4.62 -.03 (year range $4.30-25.32)

Anywhere Real Estate (HOUS)     $11.18 +.14 (year range: $9.06-21.03) 

(Anywhere Real Estate is the new name for Realogy, which owns and franchises Century 21, Coldwell Banker. Corcoran, Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate, and ERA Real Estate.)

Golden Real Estate was founded in July 2007, just before the market crash of 2008, but we prospered through that downturn, and we will prosper through this one.

Climate Change Vulnerability Is Increasingly an Issue for Homebuyers  

It’s not surprising, given the extreme weather we’re witnessing, including here in Colorado, that 63% of people who moved during the pandemic say that climate is or will be an issue where they now live, according to a Redfin survey of 1,000 Americans who moved since March 2020. Many of the respondents said they researched climate issues before making their move.

In another survey by ValuePenguin, more than half of Americans fear they would not be able to recover financially from a climate-induced catastrophe. An earlier Redfin survey showed that Americans between the ages of 35 and 44 were most likely to say that “natural disasters, extreme temperatures and rising sea levels” all influenced or will influence their decisions on where to move. 

Here in Colorado we’ve been blessed to experience fewer and less dramatic impacts from climate change. But those impacts are knocking on our door. Consider last summer’s fire smoke, or this month’s hurricane-force winds, or our current drought.

Our water supply depends on snowpack, and rising winter temperatures result in more rain and less snow. Even though we’re east of the continental divide, we, like the Western Slope and the states west of us, are dependent on the dwindling Colorado River water, which is transported from the Western Slope to the Front Range through tunnels.

Because we experience fewer effects of climate change, I foresee increased migration from other parts of the country, including “tornado alley,” to Colorado as their current homes experience climate change’s increasing impact.

In researching this topic, I came across a Fall 2021 white paper from SitusAMC entitled “The Burgeoning Insurance Costs for Real Estate.” It assesses the impact of increased losses from catastrophes, mostly caused by climate change.

Although the focus of the white paper is on the ability of insurers to cover increased claims and the effect of those increased claims on residential and commercial insurance rates, it also made some interesting observations about the migration of people to and from states with high insurance claims and expected future risks from climate change.

So guest what? With the sole exception of California, people are moving to states where they will be more at risk rather than less. Texas, which accounted for 40% of all insurance claims in the first half of 2021, has had the highest influx of people from other states. Florida, despite its risks, was a close second.

In recent years I’ve seen many of my sellers relocating to Florida, and it’s hard for me to understand.

So there you have it — a Redfin study that says Americans are considering climate change risks before making their move, while another study shows that more people are moving into states and areas of high risk. Could both be true? I’m not sure what to believe now!

Redfin Survey Suggests Colorado Will See Influx of Buyers Due to Climate Fears

A recent survey of 2,000 U.S. residents by Redfin found that three-quarters of Americans are hesitant to buy homes in areas with a high climate risk. Those risks include more severe hurricanes & tornadoes, flooding, higher temperatures, wildfires, and rising sea levels.

It’s not hard to see why Colorado would be a favored destination for “climate refugees.” I have sold several homes to Californians recently, including just this month to my stepson, who currently lives in Sherman Oaks. 

We Realtors are seeing more and more of our listings going to out-of-state buyers, subjecting local buyers to increased competition in bidding wars.

If you’ve been paying attention to national weather reports, you can understand this trend. In California, the last two fire seasons have been terrifying. Last week’s earthquake in Los Angeles could have added to the situation.

In the Midwest, we have seen tornado after tornado destroying entire neighborhoods. And rising water temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico are promising increasingly severe hurricanes and flooding.

The Redfin survey broke down by age the reluctance of home buyers to purchase a home in such areas. What it found was that buyers between 35 and 44 years old have the highest reluctance, with buyers between 25 and 34 years old having the second highest reluctance to buy in such areas.

Fifty-nine percent of persons between 35 and 44 years old said that the increasing intensity and frequency of natural disasters played a role in their decision about where to move.  Fifty-eight percent said that extreme temperatures played a role, and 48% said that rising sea levels played a role in their decision.

For people 25 to 34 years old, the percentages were 52%, 50% and 35% respectively.

The lowest percentage of reluctance was among the oldest buyers surveyed, those between 55 and 64 years old. (For some unexplained reason, Redfin didn’t survey people 65 and older.) Only 28% of that age group said that natural disasters and rising temperatures were a factor in their decision to buy, and only 15% cited rising sea levels as a factor.

Among my own clients, I have been surprised at how many sellers — all of them seniors — have relocated to Texas and Florida. For some it was to be close to family. For others it was because of lower home prices. They benefited from our runaway seller’s market, buying equivalent homes for much less money in those states.

“Climate change is making certain parts of the country less desirable to live in,” says Redfin’s chief economist. “As Americans leave places that are frequently on fire or at risk of going underwater, the destinations that don’t face those risks will become increasingly competitive and expensive.”

Perhaps the Denver Post should bring back the phrase, “Climate Capital of the World,” below its front-page logo.

Beware of Brokerages That Offer to List Your Home for 1%

Perhaps you’ve seen the ads from a real estate company promoting a 1% listing fee. Some would consider this deceptive advertising, since the details are buried in fine print. In Colorado, you’ll pay an additional 2.8% fee to compensate the agent representing the buyer. That alone brings the fee up to 3.8%.  Also, the advertised rate requires that you buy your replacement home with the company. It’s all in the fine print.

Read the fine print! (You have 1 second to do so on this TV commercial.)

Would you really want to do business with a company that tricks you into granting an appointment by misrepresenting what they charge to sell your home?  We charge a little more, but you get far better marketing and, if we sell it ourselves, you could pay as little at 3.6% and get free moving to your new home.  Call Jim Smith at 303-525-1851 for details.

Note: Technically, the commission paid to the buyer’s agent is part of the listing commission even though it is paid by the seller at closing. Therefore advertising a 1% listing fee is in itself a lie. The listing contract would show 3.8%, not 1%. The fine print in the commercial also states that the 1% “listing fee” is increased if no commission is owed to the buyer’s agent. Therefore, 1% is not obtainable under any circumstance, although a listing agreement could be modified by the listing agent since commissions are always negotiable. I’m just referring to their “standard” commission arrangement as they are advertising it.