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Meet the portal wars' dark horse—and Sam Altman is invested in it

Just how much of a boost will the acquisition of ZeroDown, having Sam Altman name attached to the company, and AI technology give Flyhomes in the portal wars?

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AI generated image of Sam Altman made by ResiClub

Meet the portal wars' dark horse

If you watched the Chiefs-49ers Super Bowl back in February, you might have caught one of Homes.com’s ads, one of which featured Lil Wayne and Jeff Goldblum. These ads are part of CoStar-owned Homes.com's marketing campaign, which is reportedly the biggest ever in real estate, as it strives to catch up to Zillow and Realtor.com.

While Homes.com has all the spotlight in the so-called “portal wars,” it appears this week the competition got its dark horse: Flyhomes.

This week, the home listing site Flyhomes announced that it has acquired the real estate AI startup ZeroDown, which reportedly raised $30 million in capital from Sam Altman and the venture capital fund Goodwater Capital in 2019. Flyhomes has launched an AI-powered home search portal as a result of this acquisition.

Seattle-based Flyhomes informed ResiClub that Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, now has a financial stake in Flyhomes.

“Existing home search portals were built nearly 20 years ago and were designed to provide just enough information to generate a customer lead. We’ve taken a different approach, building a portal unlike anything else on the market, one that lets consumers have a conversation as though they're talking to a local real estate agent. A prospective buyer can use Flyhomes AI to go as deep in the shopping journey they’d like, all on their own time and without any sales pressure,” wrote Laks Srini, CTO of Flyhomes, in the company’s press release.

According to Flyhomes, their home search portal is now AI-powered and trained on nearly 1,000 data points, and allows home shoppers to ask open-ended questions like:

“Is this home a good deal compared to others in the neighborhood?”

“How is T-Mobile’s coverage in this home?”

Flyhomes, which was founded in 2016, argues that their revamped and AI-powered listing portal is needed more than ever.

Tushar Garg, co-founder and CEO of Flyhomes, writes that: “Historically, buyers have had unlimited access to agents without ever needing to compensate them for their time. The National Association of Realtors’ settlement of the commission lawsuits mandates that buyers now sign a contract to compensate their agents directly before touring homes. The new rule, which goes into effect August 17th, is the most significant change to real estate in over 100 years and will fundamentally change the buyer-agent dynamic. This barrier of signing a contract upfront will cause many buyers to delay the timeline in which they engage a buyers agent, limiting their access to critical information. This will create a massive friction in the market, and luckily AI is reaching technical maturity at just the right time to be the solution to this problem. This confluence of events has us confident that the winner of the ‘portal wars’ is going to be the one with the best technology and deepest insights for consumers.”

Just how much of a boost will the acquisition of ZeroDown, having Sam Altman name attached to the company, and AI technology give Flyhomes in the portal wars?

We’ll have to wait and see.

AI generated image of Florida’s housing market made by ResiClub

Florida homebuilders say their market is shifting

Since last year, ResiClub has been keeping an eye on rising active inventory for sale across Florida. A few weeks back, Zonda chief economist Ali Wolf told ResiClub that Florida homebuilders were also keeping an eye on spiking inventory, however, most hadn’t seen a slowdown in sales yet.

Fast-forward to today, and that might be changing: According to Zonda’s May survey of homebuilders, 76% of Florida homebuilders say May 2024 was slower than expected—including 38% who say it’s “causing concern.”

“The last time we spoke, builders were questioning if there was a change in the market. Now it appears those concerns have become a reality—at least in some markets within the two states [Florida and Texas]. I still keep the belief that new [construction] is better positioned than existing, but the new market isn’t infallible either,” Wolf told ResiClub on Thursday.

[ResiClub PRO members can find our latest data-packed county and metro inventory analysis here]


8% of Florida homebuilders say May 2024 was “stronger than expected”

15% of Florida homebuilders say May 2024 was “on track with expectations”

38% of Florida homebuilders say May 2024 was “slower than expected but not worrisome”

38% of Florida homebuilders say May 2024 was “slower than expected and causing concern”

Morgan Stanley strategists updated their forecast for national home prices:

2024: +2%

2025: +3%

Morgan Stanley strategists expect the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate “will stabilize” around 6.25% by the middle of 2025.

“As mortgage rates potentially come down, Morgan Stanley strategists expect the inventory of for-sale homes to increase from historical lows. However, a still-sizeable lock-in effect may keep the supply of homes constrained and prevent sales volumes from increasing too much” wrote Morgan Stanley.

Even IF Morgan Stanley is correct and national home price appreciation (currently +3.9% year-over-year) is +2% in 2024 and +3% in 2025, some regional pockets of the country could still see mild price declines.

Are you a housing investor? Do you own a long-term or short-term rental property? 🏠

If so, you’re invited to participate in the ResiClub-Groundfloor Housing Investor Survey.

The survey results will be published later this month in ResiClub—and in other mainstream publications.