Creators of a Web-based real estate venture are pledging to create a “list-to-close” platform for conducting no-fee real estate transactions without agents.
The Web site, MyFutureNet.com, now promotes “no fee, no hidden-cost mortgages” through a joint venture with Allpointe Mortgage, a mortgage broker based in Canonsburg, Penn., that is also licensed in Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, Maine, Michigan, Virginia and Wyoming. And coming soon: “no-commission, no-fee home sales. Goodbye, middleman,” the site also states.
The company follows a trend in discount companies that are seeking to drive business to various affiliated real estate-related services while offering consumers a low-cost or no-cost alternative to paying full-service brokerage commissions.
Jennifer Katzvey, founder and CEO for FutureNet Realty Technologies LLC and a former real estate agent at Coldwell Banker Real Estate in Cranberry, Pa., said, “The concept really came out of my prospecting of the for-sale-by-owner community. People that were selling their home on their own lacked the tools that they needed to successfully complete a transaction.”
While there will always be consumers who want to work with real estate agents, Katzvey said, “Our system is going to give (consumers) everything they need to complete a transaction. A lot of people are talking about, ‘What do real estate agents really do for the amount they’re getting paid?’ We’re giving consumers another option. We certainly think it’s something that a lot of people will consider because of cost savings and ease of use.”
The company is more closely aligned with the mortgage and title industry than it is with the real estate brokerage industry, and founders say it will not offer any services that require a real estate license. Rather than posting for-sale properties in multiple listing services, the company will advertise the properties on its own Web site and seek to link prospective buyers directly to sellers. FutureNet seeks to profit from the volume of business it drives to its partners rather than through front-end fees.
FutureNet Realty Technologies formed FutureNet Mortgage through its joint venture with Allpointe Mortgage, and both partners have equal ownership in FutureNet Mortgage, said Frank Divers, co-founder and executive vice president at FutureNet Realty Technologies, which is based in Wexford, Penn., and has an office in Phoenix, Ariz.
Also, the company formed a similar joint venture with Pittsburgh-based National Real Estate Information Services, which offers appraisal, title, flood and settlement services to real estate consumers. And FutureNet has a partnership with Ascent Systems, a Pittsburgh-based company that offers Internet-based document management systems, among other tools and services.
“The benefit of going through the whole technology platform is that we have integrated with our mortgage and title providers to really walk you through the process, step-by-step,” Katzvey said. “It really is a one-stop shop for consumers.” The company plans to make money through its joint ventures, though it does not charge up-front fees or bump up rates to make a profit, she said.
“We’re making (a profit) on the back-end, from the banks themselves. There is no fee for using our technology platform. We waive the origination or brokerage fee, the lender service charge, settlement and closing fee and document preparation fee. That is something that differentiates us from the crowd,” she said. For a loan value of $300,000, that amounts to a savings of about $6,707, according to a Web site description. Also, the company plans to offer coupon-type rewards for retail brands and services to consumers who work with FutureNet.
When the site’s full range of services are formally launched in early 2006, the platform will include “a full gamut of services and offerings — anything you can imagine that is related to the home sale,” Katzvey said.
Divers said the site’s services will be available nationwide at that time. To promote the company’s launch, FutureNet is a sponsor of the Jan. 2 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl football game between Ohio State and Notre Dame. As a part of the festivities, members of the U.S. Air Force Academy will parachute onto the field at Sun Devil Stadium in Stadium, landing on the MyFutureNet logo on the field, according to an announcement this month, and the winner of a MyFutureNet contest will be on the field to witness the pre-game coin toss by professional football great Jerry Rice.
The site also contains information about transferring or setting up utilities and for finding real estate lawyers.
“Our plan is to fix some of the things we see in the real estate world that can be enhanced or optimized through technology,” Divers said. The full public launch of the company’s “list-to-close” technology should be online in March, he said.
Katzvey said that the company will enlist paperless technologies to facilitate the electronic exchange of documents throughout the transaction, when possible. “All of the traditional closing processes and procedures can occur in a completely paperless environment if the consumer wants it to occur that way and the legal requirements for the municipality allow it to. Our system is completely enabled for an electronic close.”
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