By Shay Castle Daily Camera, Boulder, Colo.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) One Boulder entrepreneur hopes her new online and mobile marketplace to buy and sell houses -- sans real estate agents will be a big hit with homebuyers. For buyers, SideDoor functions like Airbnb: You log on, put in your criteria and see the available listings. There's an option to upload your pre-approval for a loan if you have one, and a list of affiliated lenders to work with if you don't. Shelley Janes refined the idea during the Boomtown accelerator program in the Fall of 2015. It's great to see when women in business ACCELERATE! Here is a link to the Boomtown Accelerator program in case you are interested http://www.boomtownaccelerator.com/
Daily Camera, Boulder, Colo.
Get a realtor, look at listings, go to showings, make an offer, sign a contract, close and pay: The home buying process hasn't changed in years, remaining mostly untouched by technology that has transformed countless industries.
But one Boulder entrepreneur is hoping that the time is right for innovation.
Shelley Janes is the founder of SideDoor, an online and mobile marketplace to buy and sell houses -- sans real estate agents. The platform is launching in the Denver-Boulder market this Saturday after completing Boomtown's accelerator program in the fall of 2015.
Janes was herself a real estate agent for three years before starting SideDoor. After so many transactions following the same formula, she came to the conclusion that she as an agent wasn't really necessary.
"I think that the younger generation is more willing to use technology for bigger transactions," Janes said. "Our generation -- we know how to learn, and the information on how to do this is out there, all over the internet."
For buyers, SideDoor functions like Airbnb: You log on, put in your criteria and see the available listings. There's an option to upload your pre-approval for a loan if you have one, and a list of affiliated lenders to work with if you don't.
A calendar feature lets you schedule showings. Contracts are all taken care of online, with lawyers available for consultation and review. The only money you pay goes right to the parties providing the services.
On the seller side, listing a property is free -- for now. ("We eventually will charge a listing fee but only when we get to a critical mass," Janes said.) Uploading photos and a description takes minutes, and SideDoor even offers free photography services for the listed property.
The idea is to save the 6 percent typically charged by buyers and sellers agents -- which, in this super-heated housing market, is big money. On a median-price Boulder County house ($495,000), fees for two agents total $29,700.
Despite that, more people than ever are utilizing agents in transactions.
In 2005, only 85 percent of sellers used agents in their transactions. A decade later, 89 percent of sellers were, and for-sale-by-owners were the lowest of all time, according to Adam DeSanctis, economic issue manager for the National Association of Realtors.
Interestingly, younger buyers are more likely than their older peers to use an agent, DeSanctis noted, possibly because second- or third-time buyers and sellers have been through the process and therefore feel comfortable going without a realtor.
There will always "be a place for realtors on the buyer's side for people who don't have a lot of time to search, who need advice from a professional as to property values, the market and financing issues," said Niwot real estate attorney Bruce Warren -- but he believes technology will play an increasing role in millennials' home buying process.
"I think the trend will be towards more buyers finding properties without a realtor in the future, through Zillow and a number of other sites," Warren said. "It used to be that only realtors had access to MLS listings, but now buyers can do their own research if they have the time and inclination."
And the right technology. That's what's been lacking, Janes said.
"Those that have been most interested in our product are 35 or younger," she said. "If you provide them with the right tool, you can get anyone to closing."