Online real estate can save buyers and sellers time and money

When it comes to real estate, buyers, sellers, and agents have more tools than ever to navigate the market. 

From websites that make realtors battle for your business to platforms that promise to sell your home on a schedule - technology has changed the world of buying and selling a property.

Moving slowly wasn't an option for the Hardy family when it came to selling their house. The busy parents of five had already closed on their new home.

Resheena and Andre Hardy tried out a service called Offerpad which will buy your home for you on the day you choose, and then flip it later.

When sellers fill out the form on the Offerpad website, they're promised an offer in 24 hours, everything complete within a month, and a free local move.

"I looked at the commercials several times and I was like, 'OK this cannot be true," Reshenna said.

But Andre was willing to give it a shot.

"I said, 'Let's try. We sold our last home the traditional way and it took a year and a half."

The Hardys sold their home thru Offerpad in 10 days.

"You could be waiting six months. You could be waiting seven months for your home to sell. It's invaluable when you have time and certainty. You never have to list your house. There's no stress of having it show-ready, or worry about a deal falling through," Carol Toffolon, an Offerpad dispositions agent explained.

Offerpad says it's able to make money because its agents deal in high volume, making a little bit on a large number of homes and allowing them to make competitive offers to consumers.

But when we went through the fine print, we were curious about the so-called experience fee.

Toffolon said, "We have a pass-thru fee. That's a fee we pay when we sell the home. Then there's the convenience fee for how quickly we can sell your home."

Andre Hardy said the offer was better than they thought it would be, coming in higher than what other realtors had said they could get. And Reneesha said the hassle-free process was worth the fee for her.

Offerpad says its fees match traditional realtors fees.

A similar service, Upnest is an online real estate marketplace matching home buyers and sellers with local agents who then compete for their business by offering lower commissions or rebates.

On the buyer's side there's a rebate and on the seller's side there's a commission discount.

Simon Ru, founder and CEO of Upnest said, "On average, realtors are offering a little bit over 4.5 percent on our marketplace and consumers, on average, are saving 7,000 as home sellers and home buyers are getting 3-4k back in commission refunds."

He got the idea when his father was trying to sell his home and was overwhelmed by commission costs.

Upnest doesn't charge a realtor to list, but it charges a platform fee to the realtor when the home is sold.

Some critics argue that reputable realtors should never have to drop their commission to get clients. But for Remax realtor Carol Conologue it was a way to beef up business on top of traditional referrals.

"It's more exposure. Network and build your business," the veteran Bay Area realtor explained.

It's how she got the business of home seller Jillane Vos.

"I wanted to be smart and decided to do research instead of paying 7 percent. Well, let's see if there are people willing to do it for less," Vos said.

From competing commissions to selling your home on your schedule, knowing how innovators are reinventing real estate to respond to our on-demand needs could save you time and money.