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If you’re dreading selling your home, Zillow says it has a deal for you.

The Seattle-based real estate company, which provides online housing data for buyers and sellers, now will purchase your home, too.

Zillow this week expanded its year-old Zillow Offers program to Colorado Springs and Fort Collins, giving homeowners a chance to sell their properties directly to the company and without the problems associated with a sale.

No buyers tramping through your house as you’re trying to eat dinner; no flurry of last-minute repairs to cover up years of wear and tear; and no sorting through multiple bids and wondering which one is best, the company says.

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“It’s just simpler that way,” said Zillow spokeswoman Jordyn Lee. “A lot of folks are using Zillow Offers just because they don’t want to deal with the hassle of, like, keeping their house clean and hosting open houses.”

Zillow introduced the program in Denver a year ago; the Springs and Fort Collins were added as spin-offs of the Denver operation and now give Zillow 14 markets nationwide.

Zillow Offers works like this:

• Homeowners thinking of selling their house can go to Zillow’s website and its Zillow Offers page and request an offer from the company — filling out a questionnaire, providing nuts-and-bolts information about their home and uploading property photos.

• A team of Zillow evaluators, working with Atlas Real Estate Group of Denver, will examine the information and respond within 48 hours by either deciding against offering to buy the home or making a preliminary, no-obligation bid on the house.

• For homeowners who receive an offer and want to take the next step, a Zillow evaluator will conduct a more detailed, on-site inspection of their property. That inspection will be used to determine a final offer by Zillow that homeowners can accept or reject.

• Homeowner who reject the final offer can hold onto the inspection report and use it if they decide to go down a more traditional path of hiring a real estate agent to market the property. Zillow will connect sellers with one of its “premier” agents — those who advertise on the company’s website.

• Homeowners who agree to sell to Zillow can choose when to move out during a window of time as short a week or as long as 90 days.

Some homeowners moving cross-country for a new job might need to be out of the house quickly; others might want more time while looking to find another property to purchase.

• Selling to Zillow isn’t free; the company charges a fee, which, during the first quarter of this year, averaged 7% of the purchase price, Lee said. That’s slightly higher than the 5% to 6% commission that real estate agents typically receive.

• After Zillow buys a home, it will seek to re-sell it within 10 days of taking possession, Lee said.

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Zillow’s program might be “the perfect answer” for some sellers, said Donna Major, a real estate agent with Re/Max Advantage in Colorado Springs and board chairwoman of the Pikes Peak Association of Realtors. The association doesn’t seek to pass judgment on how homeowners choose to buy or sell their homes, she said.

Then again, Major said, homeowners should remember that prices have risen for months in Colorado Springs, in part, because of a tight inventory of properties for sale and a steady demand on the part of buyers.

As a result, many sellers have received multiple offers, including bids that often top their asking price. Sellers who go with the Zillow program — and don’t have buyers competing for their home — might not realize the full market price for their home, she said. Zillow also has a track record of sometimes inaccurate estimates of what a property is worth, Major said.

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“Anyone can do their business practices however, they choose,” she said. “I may not agree it with it, but that doesn’t make it wrong. Do I think that process is not in the seller’s best interest all the time? Probably. It doesn’t put it (a home) out there for them to get fair market value on their property because they wouldn’t know what people would be willing to pay for their home if it were out there on the marketplace.”

Business writer, Colorado Springs Gazette

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