I have been writing about algorithmic home buying on the blog since Opendoor launched back in 2014.
I don’t have anything new to report on that today, but this recent article from the WSJ is interesting in that it talks about why Phoenix, in particular, has become ground zero for algorithmic home buying, as well as for institutional investors looking to buy cheap rentals.
Across Opendoor, Offerpad, and Zillow, nearly 500 homes are now being purchased — largely by software — in Phoenix each month:
One of the reasons why Phoenix is well suited to these platforms is that the housing stock is cheap and fairly homogenous. (The WSJ calls it “stucco sprawl.”) This makes it easier for the algorithms to put a value on the homes.
A big chunk of the housing stock is also relatively new. Just over 36% of it was built in 2000 or later. And it tends to trade fairly often. Below is the percentage of homes in 2018 that were resold within a year of purchase.
It’s also worth noting that Arizona is a non-recourse state, meaning you’re typically not personally liable if you default on your home mortgage. You simply hand back the keys. So it’s viewed as a fairly risk tolerant state, which may be one of the reasons why Phoenix’s median home price chart looks like this:
I’ll end with this quote from the article: “It’s the dawn of e-commerce for real estate,” said Zillow Chief Executive Rich Barton. “Phoenix is ground zero.”