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New apps make it easier for home sellers to connect with buyers


(Washington Post illustration of BigStockPhoto and iStockPhoto)

Now that every buyer and seller is accustomed to using an app to search for property information and the nearest coffee shop, tech companies are upping the ante on what an app or an online platform can do.

Instead of just using technology as a supplement to a real estate transaction, several companies allow sellers to connect directly to buyers through an app or an online trading platform.

These companies recently announced expansion plans aimed at revolutionizing the real estate marketplace:

• Opendoor, a start-up that uses computer algorithms to connect buyers and sellers, plans to expand from six markets to more than a dozen. Home builder Lennar Corp. has completed a year-long pilot program with Opendoor in Las Vegas to encourage buyers of Lennar homes to sell their properties to Opendoor and trade up to a newly built Lennar home. Sellers fill out an online form and Opendoor provides them with an offer within 48 hours. The homeowners can accept or decline the offer. If they accept, an inspector visits the house to confirm or adjust the offer, buys the house and then puts it back on the market after making repairs. The benefit is a quicker sale for sellers, but they do have to pay a fee of 1 to 1.5 percent on top of the usual 6 percent commission charged by real estate agents.

• Knock.com, which offers a similar online real estate platform, recently expanded to 10 new states. The company says it helped more than 2,000 customers in Atlanta alone during its first year in business. Like Opendoor, Knock.com buys homes with cash, allowing sellers to move on more quickly to their next home. Knock.com charges a 3 percent commission. By the end of 2019, the company anticipates launching in Raleigh, Chicago, Miami, Orlando, Tampa and Denver. Currently, the company has offices in New York, San Francisco and Charlotte as well as Atlanta.

 Letgo.com, a free marketplace app used to buy and sell anything from cars to video games, recently announced that the app is available to users throughout the United States. All types of property, including housing for rent or for sale, can be listed on the site. Users can upload a photo and select a few key details to post a listing and add more photos or details whenever they want. Users can chat with each other in the app and filter local listings for searches. Artificial intelligence allows the app to instantly automate a title and category for all listings.

For more information, visit www.opendoor.com, www.Knock.com and www.letgo.com.

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