6 Questions About What It’s Like to Sell Your Home to an I-Buyer


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Former Marine Clarence Tinney has sold several homes. Find out why selling to RedfinNow was completely different.


As a former Marine, Clarence Tinney and his family had to relocate many times. As new assignments arrived, so did the mandate to move, which meant selling their home and buying a new one.

“We’ve moved five times all over the United States,” he said. “Now with the most recent move, it’s six.”

The latter was within the San Diego area and the process was significantly different, because he and his wife Barbara sold their home in just 10 days to RedfinNow. RedfinNow is Redfin’s instant offer program that makes a cash offer on your home, and closes within days, without any listings or showings. Programs like RedfinNow are often called i-buyers, which stands for institutional buyers.

The Tinneys’ decision came after they purchased a new home with a Redfin agent, but found themselves without a buyer for their previous home.

“Being a retired Marine, every time we got a change of orders to another state, one of the most frustrating parts was the liability if the old place hadn’t sold,” he said. “Financing would fall through for the buyer, and the house would go back on the market. It’s stressful. You’re trying to move on, but that tug is pulling you back to the old home. It prevents any sense of security to move on to the new chapter, because you’re always revisiting the old place and it’s still costing money.”

So when Tinney received a notification from RedfinNow offering cash for his old house, he was intrigued. “We talked about it, Googled it, and were wondering if it was a scam,” he said with a laugh. “It seemed too good to be true.”

Tinney decided to find out more, learning i-buyer programs aren’t just for desperate, last ditch moves.

“We took a chance, and within a day of contacting RedfinNow, Matt Porter, the local representative, came to see our home and met us in-person. He made a cash offer of $625,000, which was right in middle of the estimated range of $605,000 to $655,000 advertised online for our house. We thought $625,000 was a fair price considering this kind of sale meant we wouldn’t have to invest in cosmetic upgrades,” he said.

“The timing was incredible; we would have had to otherwise liquidate investments for the down payment for the new house. But once we secured the RedfinNow sale, we used the funding to buy our new house.”

We asked Tinney a few more questions about his decision to sell to an i-buyer and what the experience was like; here’s what he wants every prospective home-seller to know.

What are the benefits of selling to an i-buyer?

“We knew our house needed cosmetic work. Both the yard and interiors needed to be updated–new flooring, paint, and to remove the popcorn ceiling. We figured we’d have to put in anywhere from $20,000 to $35,000 to get top dollar. That was money we wouldn’t be able to roll into the new house. RedfinNow gave us the closure of selling our home prior to leaving, and not having to worry about how to finance the costs of cosmetic repairs.”

How is an i-buyer program like RedfinNow different from a traditional sale?

“Selling with a traditional real estate agent, you’re looking at a 6 percent fee between the buyer’s and seller’s agent. RedfinNow charged 7 percent for a guaranteed sale, and I didn’t have to do any work. It was incredible to have the peace of mind knowing I didn’t have to spend $20,000 on updates, and also wouldn’t have to pay two mortgages at once.”

What is the process of selling to an i-buyer?

“A few days after Matt’s original visit, we received an email from him detailing the offer. Once we agreed to the cash offer, RedfinNow sent an inspector to do a structural inspection of our home–not anything cosmetic. The inspector found isolated termites, and RedfinNow included the cost of that repair in our closing statement, which was presented to me all up-front. We closed escrow within 10 days, and had the cash to fund the purchase of our new home. The whole process took less than a month.

Having been through a handful of home purchases and sales before, I’ve seen first-hand how they can drag out for weeks, so never thought we could close that quickly, which was an awesome feeling.”

What happens after an i-buyer sale?

“There was a period after the sale where we were non-homeowners, as we could not yet move into the new house. What meant the most to my family was RedfinNow’s willingness to make our lives as easy as possible. Once we said, ‘We’d prefer not to live in a hotel, is there any way we can rent it back?’ The answer was ‘absolutely!’ We sold the home, had the cash equity, omitted any future risk, and then rented it back until we were ready to move into our new home. We didn’t have to move, disrupt our lifestyle with two kids and two cats, put stuff in storage, or live off fast food.”

How should a homeowner decide if an i-buyer offer is right for them?

“Do a cost comparison and lay out your financial impact looking at the traditional 6 percent commission, plus cosmetic upgrades for the possibility of getting a few more dollars back. Is it worth several thousand dollars’ worth of risk? Compare that to the 7 percent RedfinNow charges, as well as the peace of mind knowing you won’t have any liability once RedfinNow buys your home for cash.”

Would you sell to RedfinNow again?

“I would absolutely sell to RedfinNow again. I would do the same thing I recommended, and look at whether it makes sense mathematically in accordance with market conditions, and what updates the home needs.”

Click through the gallery below to see how RedfinNow transformed Clarence’s house:


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