Real Estate

Knock CEO: In The Future, Buying A Home Will Be A Lot Like Using Airbnb

At Inman Connect on Wednesday, Knock CEO Sean Black predicted the transaction process would be as simple as booking a short-term rental.

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Knock Chief Executive Officer Sean Black believes that within five to 10 years buying and selling a home will look a lot like booking a short-term rental on Airbnb.

The ability to search, schedule and pay online when it comes to vacation rentals is where the sales market is heading, Black said during an Inman Connect session Wednesday titled, “Is there a transaction revolution on the horizon?”

“It’s like project management on steroids,” Black said referring to the traditional process of buying. “I think it’s really all about having this seamless experience where you can, in one place, buy and sell simultaneously.”

Of course, the process of buying a home is much more complex with multiple parties involved, like banks and agents, but the ability to bridge all, if not most, of those processes into one digital database will transform the way we buy and sell forever, Black told Inman Editor-at-Large Clelia Peters before a digital-only audience.

The real estate industry has already gone through multiple digital revolutions, Black told Peters. First there was the introduction of listings online, then came the democratization of the information around those listings, and now, we are in what Black, a 20-year real estate veteran and a member of the founding team at Trulia, refers to as the “transaction revolution.” 

“Fast forward to 2015 when we started Knock, I’d like to think we kicked off the transaction revolution, which we think is the final step in what is clearly a tectonic shift in how people buy and sell homes,” he said. 

Knock is a tech company and a mortgage provider. Through its Home Swap program, it poses an end to the tie homeowners typically have to equity when trying to move. The program pre-funds clients for a traditional mortgage for a home, and can even provide down payment funds. If the home being sold doesn’t sell right away, Knock will take care of the mortgage for up to six months and then provide a backup offer. 

“We’re very focused, in particular, on the largest homebuyer,” Black explained. “Which is people buying and selling at the same time.”

Most of these buyers, he continued, are digitally native and look for transparency and convenience. 

“We all started online buying books on Amazon, and then it got to be food, and then it became vacations,” he said. “And then cars came, and that was probably the hardest one.”

It was hard to imagine people buying cars sight unseen, Black continued. But companies like Carvana are rising to the top.

“If you look at the history of homes, whatever happens in cars tends to happen in homes right after,” he said. 

Digital transactions already play a crucial role in Knock’s Home Swap program, with consumers able to swap their home for another online. 

It’s all about having a seamless, digital experience, Black said, from the search to the financing, to the closing.

Moving forward, the more frictionless the transaction process becomes, the more accessible homeownership will become for people who move around frequently.

Email Libertina Brandt

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