I would like to revisit the post that I wrote last week about the Brazil-based real estate startup, Loft. In it, I said that they are doing in Brazil what Opendoor, and others, are doing in the US. They are buying and flipping homes using algorithms. This has become known as “iBuying” and we’ve talked about it a lot here on the blog.
But we have also talked about how this is probably not the end game. These companies are seeding a marketplace, because in every new two-sided marketplace you are always faced with a chicken-and-egg problem. You can’t attract supply if you don’t have demand. And you can’t attract demand if you don’t have supply.
In reading the investment announcement by a16z, this larger vision is pretty clear:
They [Loft] are building a transactional marketplace for the biggest asset class in the world, starting in the biggest market in Latin America, on a time horizon that makes it hard to believe it’s been less than a year since the PowerPoint. They buy homes, fix them (often according to formulaic specifications provided by active buyers), and sell them — what is now known as “i-buying,” with the vision of turning this into a transactional marketplace.
If successful, these companies will transform from just “iBuyers” to fully fledged marketplaces for the buying and selling of homes. And when that happens (I believe it’s a when), it is likely to mean dramatic changes to the commissions landscape. Today, over $100 billion in residential real estate commissions are paid out across the United States each year.