- Realogy leaders at the firm's startup contest voted New Story to be the most innovative real estate startup.
- New Story makes it easy for agents and brokerages to raise and donate funds used to build $6,000 homes for needy families abroad.
Presenting on stage at a startup competition hosted by one of the largest real estate corporations, a young man made a heartfelt request:
“I would ask the real estate leaders in here to consider supporting a charity that’s trying to push forward the status quo of a traditional charity directly relating to houses.”
Well, they did.
New Story — a non-profit that makes it easy for companies and individuals to crowdfund $6,000 homes for needy families abroad — was voted the most innovative startup at the fourth annual Realogy FWD Innovation Summit.
Realogy operates franchise brands including Century 21, ERA, and Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate and owns the nation’s largest brokerage, NRT.
Attendees of the contest, comprised largely of Realogy executives and franchisee owners, voted New Story the winner over two other finalists selected by judges from among 15 contestants. The runner-ups were First — a platform that uses predictive analytics to help agents convert contacts into clients — and Preclose, a transaction management app.
Christened the “most innovative technology product or service” by Realogy, New Story won $25,000 and placement in the ZapStore, a marketplace of products integrated with Realogy’s technology platform for affiliated agents and brokerages, known as “Zap.”
Companies and business professionals can use New Story to find needy families and set up crowdfunding pages that explain their situation and can seamlessly aggregate gifts from donors. Donations are then used to finance homes for the families.
New Story has funded more than 400 homes so far, according to New Story CEO Brett Hagler — the young man who made the plea on stage at the contest.
“We’ve built a next-generation type of homebuilding charity through transparency and through technology,” he said.
After a home funded through New Story is constructed, the non-profit shoots a video of the family moving into the home and distributes the video to donors. The idea is to encourage giving, ensure that donations go straight to a specific project, and provide proof of their success.
Real estate agents and businesses are using New Story to make and collect donations while building socially minded brands along the way.
Some create funding pages with a commitment to donate a certain amount for every transaction they close until a home is funded (the page could also attract donations from the “crowd,” not just the agent or brokerage).
The most generous New Story partners actually pledge to fund one home for every deal, according to Hagler.
Funding pages often are created by agents and brokerages on behalf of clients to connect their homebuying or selling experience with an act of social justice.
The runner-up of Realogy FWD was First, while Preclose came in third place.
First can seamlessly aggregate an agent’s contacts from their email, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts into a database and then mine public data to continually flag contacts that are most likely to buy or sell in the near future.
The system also prompts agents to reach out to contacts when it detects that they’ve undergone a life event, such as a job change.
Real estate agents can use Preclose to bring more order to the closing process by assigning action plans to all the parties involved in a transaction and connecting those parties to each other in a central communication hub.
“We save everyone time, we give everyone a plan, its all online, and it’s with shared accountability,” said Preclose CEO Rebecca Guthrie.