1. News
  2. /
  3. Business

Need a buyer for your Tampa Bay Home? Zillow enters the market with cash offers

It joins Opendoor and Offerpad in making "instant'' offers.
Tampa Bay homeowners are now able to sell their homes to Zillow. [Zillow]
Tampa Bay homeowners are now able to sell their homes to Zillow. [Zillow]
Published Oct. 21, 2019
Updated Oct. 21, 2019

Click here to read this story in Spanish

The online real estate giant is launching its Zillow Offers program in the bay area, the 22nd U.S. metro market in which sellers can enter their information online and get an initial cash offer within 48 hours. Following a home inspection, they can close in as little as seven days. Or if they don’t want to sell to Zillow, they’ll still receive a free analysis of what other homes are going for.

"It’s a great platform but it’s not going to be for everyone,'' said Joe LoCicero, whose Land O’ Lakes firm, 54 Realty, will be Zillow’s exclusive agent in the Tampa Bay area. "If the seller wants to go the traditional route, they’ll get a market analysis by a licensed professional to show what they can get on the open market.''

Zillow is joining an already crowded field of ‘iBuyers'’ (the “i'' stands for “instant”) that includes Opendoor and Offerpad. All of the companies tout the convenience of quickly selling a home without the need for open houses, frequent showings and the risk that a sale will fall through at the last minute.

Records show that the iBuying market remains small in the Tampa bay area. Since 2017, Opendoor and Offerpad have purchased a total of 958 homes in Hillsborough County; last year alone, nearly 27,000 homes were sold in the county. Zillow could have an advantage over its competitors, though, because its name is much better known thanks to its popular online "Zestimates'' of home values.

Andy Baxter decided to try Zillow Offers this year when he had to sell his three-bedroom, two-bath pool home near Orlando because of a job relocation. He said he instantly got an offer for what he thought the house was worth— about $375,000.

"I equate it with CarMax,'' he said, referring to the nationwide company that buys used cars. "You go in, they give you a price, if you’re offended you leave. If not, you walk out with a check.''

Baxter said the Zillow inspectors found "the usual things'' — some holes in the walls from pictures and gutters that needed cleaning. They also wanted to power wash the deck.

"They didn’t try to pick the house apart,'' he said, "and when they made their original offer, they put some money in for repairs. They were very upfront, they don’t bait and switch.''

Sellers have complained that some iBuying companies chisel down the initial offer by thousands of dollars due the alleged need for extensive repairs.

Baxter, who works for an educational nonprofit and now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, said his sale closed in August three or four weeks after he first contacted Zillow. "That was my choice: it could have been sooner, he said.

Zillow charges a "convenience fee’' that averages 7.5 percent, similar to what other iBuyers charge but slightly more than the typical real estate commission. That’s because iBuyers "are going to manage all the risks for you,'' LoCicero said - "the time on the market, the holding costs, anything to get the home prepped for sale.''


  1. Erica Allums poses for a portrait behind the counter at Banyan Cafe in St. Petersburg while she was still the owner. Now, she's in the process of taking over the MLK spot once again. [Times (2018)] [Tampa Bay Times]
    The Central Avenue location will continue to operate as normal.
  2. A for sale sign is seen in front of a home in the Westchase area of Tampa. CHRIS URSO  |  Times (2013)
    And a spike in cash sales suggests investors were active in the market.
  3. Florida's unemployment rate hit a record low in December. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File) [LYNNE SLADKY  |  AP]
    Nearly every major job sector posted gains from a year earlier.
  4. A proposed bill in the Legislature would set a statewide referendum on whether to amend Florida's constitution to add a year to the period when home buyers can transfer their accumulated benefits under the Save Our Homes cap on property assessments to a new home. Pinellas County Property Appraiser Mike Twitty says going from two years to three would reduce the possibility that construction delays in a booming real estate market would prevent some buyers from meeting the deadline, costing them potentially thousands 
 of dollars in property tax savings. [SUSAN TAYLOR MARTIN | Times (2019)]
    The bill, the idea of Pinellas County Property Appraiser Mike Twitty, would give buyers another year to transfer their tax savings under Florida’s Save Our Homes assessment cap to a home they’ve...
  5. The Tampa Bay Times' headquarters in downtown St. Petersburg. [CHRIS URSO  |  Times]
    No customer information was compromised. The Times is removing the malicious code.
  6. Concentrix has told the state of Florida that it plans to lay off as many as 174 employees from one of the programs it has at the Interstate Corporate Center east of Tampa. This is the same call center hit with 245 layoffs announced in November. (Google street view photo) [Google Street View]
    In November, Concentrix, the California multinational company that runs the center, announced the layoffs of 245 employees.
  7. Loreen Spencer (left) and Sue Watts, the two newest members of HCI Group's board of directors. [HCI Group]
    “I just wish I had thought of this earlier,” the chairman and CEO said.
  8. Tampa-based WellCare Health Plans will become the headquarters for Medicare and pharmacy operations now that it has been acquired in a $17 billion cash and stock deal by Centene Corp., base in St. Louis. (Times files)
    New owner Centene said it “expects to maintain strong operations in Tampa,” which is anticipated to be the headquarters for its Medicare and pharmacy operations.
  9. A Publix chicken tender sub sandwich. Pub Subs are now easier to order through Instacart grocery deliveries. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
    New Instacart Meal program to make Pub Sub orders a breeze, according to the grocery delivery app.
  10. Johanna Santiago, 50, of Riverview, hopes to start selling her Joba Sofrito early this year. Santiago developed the product, a savory Puerto Rican cooking sauce, with help from the nonprofit Enterprising Latinas in Wimauma. [MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE  |  Times]
    Selling food and crafts, three women are among the dozens who turned to the organization for training in 2019.