Will Holmes Opendoor
Illustration by Lanette Behiry/Real Estate News

Do agents hold the keys to Opendoor? 

Will Holmes, who leads agent growth at the tech-powered real estate company, talks about how and why agents play an essential role with the iBuying platform.

December 15, 2022
4 minutes

Key points:

  • Opendoor actively courts and rewards agents who can bring buyers and sellers to its online platform.
  • Agents, who have access to a large pool of potential clients in their communities, are increasingly critical to Opendoor’s success.
  • “We are seeing a lot more momentum with agents when they realize all the ways to work with us and monetize the relationship with their clients along the way,” Holmes said.

Opendoor pioneered the iBuying experience, and eight years later — despite challenges — is the largest iBuyer in the U.S., serving more than 50 markets. 

But there is growing room at Opendoor for real estate agents too. Local agents and brokers are key to the future of the online homebuying and selling experience.

That is the message from Will Holmes, who leads agent growth at Opendoor and regularly meets in-person with agents across the nation to talk about how and why they should partner with Opendoor. 

"Consumers are looking at all their options, and the agent is in an incredible position to be responsive to the needs of the client and come up with the solution that fits their home buying or selling journey," Holmes told Real Estate News.

At the close of 2022, Opendoor has found itself at ground zero in a real estate marketplace weakened by falling consumer demand and sale prices. In early December, co-founder Eric Wu stepped down as CEO; the previous month, the company laid off 550 workers, or 18% of its workforce, after reporting third-quarter losses of more than $925 million. 

Boots-on-the-ground network

Despite the company's recent turbulence, Opendoor is forging ahead and prioritizing agent relationships, among other initiatives. 

The division that Holmes leads promotes partnerships with real estate agents in Opendoor transactions. It is Holmes' job to court and reward agents to deliver buyers and sellers to the online transaction platform. 

"There is a tremendously broad set of tools that are now at the agent's disposal. Opendoor is one of them," Holmes said.

In 2022, Holmes said his team has worked with thousands of agents across Opendoor's 53+ markets. "We continue to see significant growth in the program, year-over-year," he said.

Agents are conduits to potential buyers and sellers in their communities and increasingly critical to Opendoor's success. But can boots-on-the-ground agents, with referrals and offers in hand, have a substantial impact on sales and revenue in the coming year? 

Many home sales have fallen through in 2022, with buyers less inclined to pay top dollar for a house because of higher interest rates, and sellers pulling homes off the market if they aren't getting the offers they expected, Holmes said.

"Sellers still see real estate as if it is 2021, and buyers think they are going to get the kinds of prices offered in 2009," Holmes said. "There is a mismatch in expectations and agents are expected to manage it." 

Wooing agents with rewards

Most of an agent's interactions with Opendoor are virtual. A listing agent can seek an offer from Opendoor on behalf of their client using the company's online portal. A company representative will walk the exterior of the property, and a contract is often delivered within a couple of days to the agent.

Opendoor tries to woo agents with incentives, including Opendoor Agent Access, which rewards agents for bringing repeat offers to the platform. After their first Opendoor transaction, agents earn points on subsequent sales and receive bonuses. For example, on a fifth transaction with Opendoor in one calendar year, an agent earns a $5,000 bonus on top of Opendoor's 1% commission payment.

"If agents are going to do more transactions with us, we should reward them," said Holmes, estimating that there is a 40% to 50% year-over-year rate of return for agents who use the program. "It has done really well, and agents are excited about it." 

Asked if Opendoor feels its commission and compensation are attractive enough to retain and scale up its network of agents, Holmes responded in an email: "We're proud of the agent program that we have built over the past few years and know that it brings impactful value not only to agents but also to customers." Agents who work with Opendoor may also receive commissions from the sellers they represent. 

"We are seeing a lot more momentum with agents when they realize all the ways to work with us and monetize the relationship with their clients along the way," Holmes said. "It's about efficiency, growing the economic pie and delivering a real estate experience that is memorable."

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