Is Opendoor the Amazon of Real Estate? 

Is Opendoor the Amazon of Real Estate? 

If you are looking to buy or sell a house, you might have come across Opendoor, an online real estate service. Although the firm has been trading for a decade, some will not have heard of it until recently. Opendoor, which has been described by investors as the ‘Amazon of real estate’ has boomed since 2020, with its stock jumping 79 per cent in the last year alone. So, if you are among the people discovering the service and considering using it, you may be asking: what is Opendoor?

How does Opendoor work? 

With Opendoor, sellers can list their properties in an online marketplace for millions of potential buyers to see. The service could also offer to buy the property for itself, resulting in what could be an easier and quicker transaction than going through a traditional estate agent. 

Opendoor is reportedly the biggest ‘instant buyer’ in the USA in terms of the volume of properties it purchases. In 2023, Opendoor sold more than 11,000 homes and purchased almost twice as many and has stated its intention to increase that number in 2024.

The firm has outlined ambitious plans for the coming year. The CEO of Opendoor, Carrie Wheeler, told Real Estate News that: “We plan to ramp our total marketing spend to widen the top of our funnel and reach more sellers. And we’re spending more creatively.”

In addition to peer-to-peer transactions and the option to sell directly to Opendoor, the firm also offers home refinancing options and streamlining services, such as the ability to buy and sell separate properties in a single transaction.

Opendoor says it can make an offer on your home in as little as ten minutes, after receiving some basic information about the property. A representative of the firm will then make an assessment of the property’s interior, which can be done remotely by video link before an estimator visits the property to provide a final offer. This quick process means sales can be closed within as little as two weeks of initiating the transaction. 

Why sell to Opendoor? 

Selling a house can be a daunting task, often involving numerous steps, uncertainties, and potential setbacks. However, selling your house to Opendoor could alleviate many of these concerns and streamline the process.

Opendoor says its service offers convenience and efficiency. Rather than dealing with the complexities of listing your home on the market, hosting showings, and negotiating with potential buyers, Opendoor could make you a quick and direct offer. With Opendoor, sellers can receive a cash offer for their home in a matter of days, allowing them to skip the traditional selling process and move on to their next chapter sooner.

Selling to Opendoor could eliminate the need for you to carry out extensive repairs and renovations. Opendoor often purchases homes ‘as is’, sparing sellers the time, effort, and expense of fixing up their property to attract buyers. This can be particularly appealing for sellers who may not have the resources or time to invest in upgrades before selling.

Opendoor says it can save sellers time and money. Sellers can bypass costly real estate agent commissions and fees. Additionally, Opendoor handles all the paperwork and logistics, further simplifying the process and potentially reducing the stress associated with selling a home.

Selling your house to Opendoor offers numerous benefits, including convenience, efficiency, transparency, and cost savings. Whether you’re looking to sell quickly, avoid extensive repairs, or simply streamline the selling process, Opendoor provides a viable solution for homeowners looking to move on to the next chapter of their lives.

Who owns Opendoor? 

Opendoor was co-founded by Eric Wu and Keith Rabois in 2014. Today is a publicly traded company, which means it is owned by its shareholders. It follows the firm going public through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) in December 2020.

Opendoor’s ownership is distributed among various institutional investors, individual shareholders, and company executives. According to Fintel, the firm has at least 558 institutional owners and shareholders, who cumulatively hold more than 465,000,000 shares. These include Vanguard, BlackRock and Renaissance Technologies. Co-founder Eric Wu also reportedly retains significant stocks in the company.

Publicly traded companies like Opendoor are subject to regulatory requirements and reporting obligations, including disclosures of ownership structure, financial performance, and corporate governance practices. This transparency allows investors and the general public to understand who owns the company and how it is managed.

As of March 1, 2024, Opendoor’s share price was $3.11, an over 111 per cent increase on the previous year, when it sat at just $1.47 per share.

What is the difference between Opendoor and Zillow? 

One of the main differences between Opendoor and Zillow is their business models. Opendoor operates as a direct buyer and seller of homes, purchasing properties from homeowners and reselling them for a profit. In contrast, Zillow primarily generates revenue through advertising and lead generation, charging real estate agents and other professionals to advertise their services and listings on its platform. While both companies offer iBuying (instant buying) services, Opendoor’s business model is more focused on direct home purchases, while Zillow integrates its iBuying service into its broader real estate marketplace.

Another difference between Opendoor and Zillow is their approach to pricing and valuation. Opendoor uses proprietary algorithms and market data to determine the value of homes and make initial cash offers to sellers. These offers are typically based on factors such as the home’s location, size, condition, and recent sales in the area. 

In contrast, Zillow offers a variety of tools for homeowners to estimate their home’s value, including the ‘Zestimate’, an automated valuation model that uses public data and user-submitted information to provide an estimate of a home’s worth. While both companies provide valuation tools, Opendoor’s approach is geared towards making cash offers to sellers, while Zillow’s tools are designed to help homeowners understand their home’s market value.

Additionally, Opendoor and Zillow differ in their geographic reach and market presence. Opendoor operates in a limited number of markets across the United States, focusing primarily on major metropolitan areas and regions with high demand for real estate. In contrast, Zillow operates nationwide and has a much larger presence in the real estate market, with millions of listings and users across the country.

The two services cater to different segments of the market. Opendoor is primarily focused on iBuying, offering homeowners a quick and convenient way to sell their homes, while Zillow operates as a comprehensive real estate marketplace, providing a wide range of tools and services to buyers, sellers, and renters nationwide. 

Is Opendoor easy to use?

Opendoor says it prides itself on providing a user-friendly platform that simplifies the home-selling process for homeowners. The company’s streamlined approach aims to minimize the hassle and stress typically associated with traditional real estate transactions. Users can initiate the selling process by visiting Opendoor’s website or using their mobile app, where they can request an offer by entering basic information about their property. This initial step is designed to be straightforward and accessible, allowing homeowners to get started with just a few clicks.

Once a request for an offer is submitted, Opendoor utilizes its proprietary technology and market data to generate a cash offer for the property. This offer is typically presented to the homeowner within a matter of days. If the homeowner chooses to accept Opendoor’s offer, the process of selling the home is further simplified. Opendoor handles all the paperwork and logistics associated with the sale, including coordinating inspections, appraisals, and closing arrangements. This hands-on approach alleviates much of the administrative burden typically placed on homeowners during the selling process, allowing them to focus on other aspects of their move.

Furthermore, Opendoor offers flexibility to homeowners by allowing them to choose their preferred closing date. This level of customization can help ensure that the selling process aligns with the homeowner’s timeline and needs, further enhancing the user experience.

What Opendoor describes as its user-friendly platform and simplified selling process could make it an attractive option for homeowners looking to secure a quick sale. By leveraging technology and data-driven solutions, Opendoor aims to provide a seamless and stress-free experience for users at every step of the home-selling journey.

What are the drawbacks of Opendoor? 

While Opendoor says they give a competitive price – according to research by Houzeo, Opendoor typically makes offers worth around 70 to 80 per cent of a home’s actual value. According to guidance issued by Raleigh Reality, Opendoor buy homes ‘at a discount’ before reselling them at the market rate. And Clever Real Estate agents claim Opendoor’s final offers are “often significantly lower than its first offer.”

Despite its many benefits, critics say Opendoor has some drawbacks that homeowners should consider. These include the claim that Opendoor’s offers may not always reflect the full market value of the property. Because Opendoor aims to turn a profit by reselling homes, their offers may be lower than what homeowners could potentially receive by selling through traditional methods, such as listing with a real estate agent. Homeowners should carefully weigh the convenience of selling to Opendoor against the possibility of receiving a lower sale price.

Another downside is that Opendoor’s services are currently only available in select markets. Homeowners outside of these areas may not have access to Opendoor’s services, limiting their options for selling their homes quickly and conveniently.

Additionally, Opendoor charges fees and commissions for their services, which can eat into the final sale price. While these fees vary depending on factors such as the location and condition of the property, sellers should be aware of the potential costs associated with using Opendoor. It’s essential to carefully review the terms and fees outlined in Opendoor’s offer before accepting to ensure a clear understanding of the financial implications.

Another consideration is that selling to Opendoor may not be the best option for homeowners who have the time and resources to invest in preparing their homes for sale. Opendoor purchases homes in their current condition, which means that homeowners may not receive as high of an offer if their property requires significant repairs or upgrades. Homeowners who are willing to invest in renovations or staging may be able to fetch a higher sale price through traditional selling methods.

Lastly, some homeowners may prefer the personal touch and guidance provided by a real estate agent throughout the selling process. While Opendoor aims to simplify the selling process through technology and automation, some individuals may value the expertise and support of a real estate professional when navigating the complexities of the real estate market.

However, despite the criticism, there are several reasons some sellers may choose to accept an offer with Opendoor – which the firm maintains is always competitive. 

What is the benefit of using Opendoor?

One of the most significant benefits of Opendoor is its convenience. Opendoor simplifies the home-selling process by providing homeowners with a quick and hassle-free way to sell their properties. Instead of dealing with the complexities of listing a home on the market, hosting showings, and negotiating with potential buyers, homeowners can request an offer from Opendoor online and receive a cash offer within days. This level of convenience is particularly appealing to homeowners who are looking to sell quickly or who want to avoid the stress and uncertainty of traditional home sales.

Opendoor offers flexibility to homeowners by allowing them to choose their preferred closing date. This level of customization ensures that the selling process aligns with the homeowner’s timeline and needs, further enhancing the user experience. Moreover, Opendoor eliminates the need for homeowners to invest time and money in preparing their homes for sale. Opendoor purchases homes in their current condition, sparing homeowners the hassle of making repairs or upgrades to attract buyers. This can be particularly appealing to homeowners who may not have the resources or desire to invest in renovations before selling.

Opendoor explained 

Opendoor presents a modern solution to the age-old challenge of selling a home. Its streamlined platform offers homeowners a convenient selling experience. By leveraging technology and data-driven algorithms, Opendoor provides quick cash offers and handles all the paperwork and logistics associated with selling a home. This level of efficiency and ease of use appeals to homeowners looking to sell quickly and with minimal hassle.

However, it’s essential for homeowners to carefully weigh the pros and cons of using Opendoor before making a decision. While Opendoor could be easier, the price might be that its offers may not always reflect the full market value of the property, and homeowners should be prepared for potentially lower offers.

Despite these drawbacks, Opendoor remains a viable option for homeowners looking to sell their properties quickly and with minimal hassle. Its user-friendly platform, transparent pricing model, and flexible closing options make it an attractive choice for those seeking a streamlined selling experience. Ultimately, whether Opendoor is the right choice for a homeowner depends on their individual needs, priorities, and preferences in the home-selling process.


Mario Laghos​

Mario Laghos is a journalist. His work has appeared in the Critic magazine, the Daily Express, and the Daily Mail

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