When Wendy Gilch and her husband sold their townhouse in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and moved in with her parents to wait for the completion of their new-build, single-family home, she found the whole experience somewhat inadequate.
The couple, newlywed at the time, about seven years ago, had listed their home too early, Gilch would later say, motivated by the desire to avoid paying two mortgages. Yet, even though she loves her parents, living with them in the early, honeymoon-phase of her marriage was “a little awkward,” she says.
Gilch, a marketing professional, reasoned that the conventional manner of selling and buying residences contributed to the jagged timeline of changing their address. Dependent on a variety of forces, homes may take months to find new owners, or a mere days. Even before they connect, buyers and sellers often commit to following pre-established steps, likely guided by real estate professionals. And, when a buyer needs to first offload a home, aligning both transactions becomes a daunting effort.
“It was at that point that I thought there have to be more people out there that are in a similar position,” Gilch says.
For several years, Gilch researched the real estate industry, seeking a platform where buyers and sellers can meet without surrendering to a preconceived mode of transacting, where they can together set a schedule that works for everyone. When Gilch couldn’t find what she looked for, she created Selling Later.
“At end of 2018, I decided to develop something that opens the lines of communication for future sellers and future buyers,” Cilch said, “because there really isn’t anything where you can publicly talk about it without being committed to selling a certain way or putting yourself out there, risking your information to be sold off for thousands of dollars as sales leads.”
Having officially launched in early 2020, Selling Later is, to put it concisely, what its name implies. The website allows homeowners, who are mulling selling, to share images and details about their abodes in order to gauge buyer’s interest – and even to find a potential purchaser – before actually listing on the market.
In doing so, Selling Later lets homeowners promote their houses – and announce their intent to sell – on their own, in a way that real estate agents legally cannot. Recent industry updates have cracked down on the so-called pocket listings, or agent-represented houses that are not openly marketed.
Able to keep their homes on Selling Later for up to a whole year in exchange for a donation to a nonprofit, owners specify when they want to sell, a feature that Gilch says helps match sellers and shoppers, streamlining the deal in the meantime.
Selling Later, Gilch says, collects no commissions or fees. Nor does it peddle the homes or the buyers clicking on them as leads to agents, a service major listing websites offer.
“Our niche is education, consumer advocacy, empowering consumers to understand their options and their resources, in addition to giving them time to be able to connect and have conversations,” Gilch says.
A way to avoid the housing market challenges brought on by Covid-19
Moreover, with pandemic-induced uncertainty still clouding the housing market, Selling Later permits hesitant sellers to test the waters before diving in, Gilch says. The site also allows buyers to explore incoming inventory, potentially avoiding the bidding wars and inflated home prices that accompany today’s limited stock across the nation.
Probing the market is what Lindy Chapman, a relocation specialist, did on Selling Later, where she recently featured her parents’ vacation house, sited in the mountains of North Carolina.
“Selling Later gave me an opportunity to feel the market, to interview agents and to get consumers’ reactions to the home,” Chapman said. “I think it’s a brilliant platform for both sellers and buyers as well as for real estate agents.”
Now represented by a local agent, Chapman’s parents’ house is one of roughly 40 that have lately resided on Selling Later. Due to Covid-19, which has prompted scores of homeowners to postpone moving, the website is attracting more and more sellers-to-be from across the nation, from Southern California to West Virginia, Gilch says. At the same time, about 250 buyers have already created a Selling Later account that permits them to message the owners of the posted residences.
Having started the business in a year of disruption, Gilch hopes to permanently upend how homes are sold and bought, heeding the examples set forth by giants in other industries. Like Craiglist (which does offer real estate advertisements) – but with a communal emphasis.
“I’ve always admired Craig Newmark (founder of Craiglist) and how he took Craigslist and what used to be a process of posting in the classifieds and just made it free, transparent and public for everybody without selling and sharing user information,” Gilch said. “I’d love to follow in one way or another in his footsteps of offering a public service to everybody. Our goal is to really change the process for the better and to advocate for consumers and educate them.”