Our new next-door-neighbors moved in just when we were about to start the process of moving out. We were happy to meet them and mutually complain about the real estate market.
The couple seemed lovely, but we were surprised to hear that they still hadn't sold their old home. We felt the ol' pangs of financial anxiety, but then they told us a company called Orchard - their real estate connection - helped them unlock the equity of their previous home, so they were able to purchase their new home and not worry about their old one selling first.
We chatted for a bit and went home - the two of us agreed they were probably getting scammed, so we had to look up Orchard ourselves. The website was wonderfully graphic and informative, but we did not understand how this could be legitimate.
On the website, we filled out a form about our current home - number of bedrooms, bathrooms, status of recent repairs, special features, etc. - and waited for our estimate.
Here's how Orchard's process apparently works: they give you an offer first. You settle with them on a guaranteed minimum price, unlocking that equity so you can buy your next home. Then, they sell your previous home, generally above the guaranteed price (especially in today's market).
You'll get to browse listings in their system, which is updated every hour, so you're never viewing homes that are under contract - we'd been fooled twice already by some other online real estate companies.
Once you find a home, you're set up to buy the house immediately thanks to that cash value from Orchard. Everyone knows contingent offers fall to the bottom of the barrel, so this puts you on top. You move into your new home, and then Orchard gets right on cleaning, listing, and selling your former home.
We figured this was the catch - maybe they're not skilled at selling your home. However, they claim that 90% of homes sell for above that guaranteed offer, closer to - or even exceeding - the asking price. We tried to uncover extra hidden fees, but they also claim to take the same 6% that a traditional real estate agent does.
If we saw this through, we'd be matched with a licensed agent who would do everything. They'd walk us through the process step-by-step, coordinate Orchard's purchase of our new home, and recommend lenders.
Then they'd help us sell our former home. They set up a digital advertising campaign for our home and send us weekly reports to track progress - they'd clean the house, send professional photographers to take photos, and do showings, while we'd be relaxing by our new pool sippin' lemonade (or more likely unpacking).
We thought maybe they were inexperienced, but every realtor had a highly qualified profile - many moved from big competitor names to Orchard.
Their listing system was tempting to browse - you can rank everything you want in a new home, and they'll provide homes ranked according to what you want. I've wanted a backyard deck my entire life, but if a home doesn't have an updated kitchen and 4 bedrooms for our growing family, it's not worth it.
We're starting the process with Orchard. They helped us realize that moving into a new home that better fits our needs as a family shouldn't be a risk! Having our old home's equity value, an expert in our corner, weekly updates, and ranked listings will make everything less of a headache. If we have an edge in buying, there's no financial panic, and we know we'll get money for our old house. Dream home, here we come.