PEPPER PIKE, Ohio — Anyone who has bought or sold a house knows it’s a process that can be long, confusing, stressful, and expensive even when it goes well.
FlashHouse, an Ohio-startup, started taking a new approach to home sales in 2018 and found that its approach created a pandemic solution it didn’t know it would need.
“Despite there always being a need for the traditional real estate agency, this is kind of ‘Selling your home, 2.0,” said co-founder Ryan Young.
Young is a traditional real estate agent but also co-founded FlashHouse to explore a different method.
Instead of a buyer putting their house on the market, FlashHouse uses investor money to buy homes.
Sellers answer questions about their home, get an offer within 24 hours, and have 72 hours to accept the offer. If the offer is accepted, FlashHouse does an inspection to make sure the original information checks out.
“The main focus when we first started this was the convenience, the speed of the sale, the security of the sale,” said Young.
But once the coronavirus made people much more aware of who they come in contact with and how close they get, FlashHouse realized it was offering an option that didn’t involve strangers in a seller’s living space.
“We have found that there are a lot of sellers that live in beautiful homes that just don’t want to take their homes to the market,” said Young.
“I think if I were in the house, with children, I’d find that to be very attractive,” said Bay Village resident Amy Fritz who just sold another home in Bay Village.
Fritz didn’t use FlashHouse and said it was easy for her to vacant the home she was selling because she already lived in another one.
Other sellers aren’t so lucky.
“That’s tough because you have to stay six feet apart,” said Karen Jacobs who just sold the Tremont home she lived in for 30 years.
“When people left, we actually wiped everything down clean,” said Barbara Barker who showed off the cleaning supplies she had stocked in the home she just sold.
“The person with the cash is the person in charge so we try to accommodate,” said Brian Bagnall, who has a few properties on the market across greater Cleveland. “We’re disinfecting the areas that a buyer is likely touch, like door knobs, light switches, and hand railings.”
FlashHouse, Young says, allows sellers to avoid doing all that sanitizing while also avoiding the steps to make their homes presentable for potential sellers.
The new option does take away some benefits of the traditional selling process.
When a home hits the open market, especially in the sellers market that exists right now in Northeast Ohio, bids can drive the final sale price above the asking price. Accepting FlashHome’s offer, if you engage them at the start of the home-selling process, means that potential bidding war never has a chance to get started.
Young says FlashHouse’s algorithm comes up with what he considers a fair and reasonable price for homes that enter their system, and that they’re not looking to make huge profits on individual sales. That’s what sets FlashHouse apart from other home-flipping schemes, according to Young.
“What’s most interesting about the current world that we live in is that information is so available,” said Young.
Home buyers and sellers can easily look up public information online about how much a house has sold for in the past, work that’s been done on the property, and what other homes on the street have sold for recently, reducing the information advantage professional realtors had in the past.
Lower barriers to information, Young says, can drive more home owners to consider a process like FlashHouse’s, which ultimately isn’t all that different from other industry-disturbing companies we’re already familiar with.
Young says FlashHouse has purchased 70 homes in 2020 and since 2018, has picked up homes ranging from $50,000 to $700,000 throughout Northeast Ohio and parts of the Midwest. The goal is to be buying 4,000 homes a year in the next three years.
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