Editor’s note: The following is a real estate tech company profile.
Below is a Q-and-A with iBuy Realty’s founder, president and CEO, Bobby Bryant:
Q: What idea launched the company?
A: The idea started with a question: Why can’t a rebate/discount real estate brokerage firm successfully gain market share in the United States? There were a multitude of reasons, but the solution became iBuy Realty.
We wanted to create a rebate/discount brokerage company that made sense, where Realtors were receptive to work, and margins were not thin due to business model. There are many more reasons, but this was the task to overcome.
|Company name:||iBuy Realty|
|Number of sales associates:||21|
|Number of offices:||1|
Q: What is the company’s core business model?
A: Our core business model is using (an) a la carte menu of services. This (concept) isn’t anything new, but (the company’s approach is new). The No. 1 issue with (other discount models) was the focus on reduced fees and rebates instead of a business model that was comprehensive and sustainable. People are going to flock to this type of model due to fees.
From the consumer standpoint, the issue becomes, "It’s too good to be true," or "What’s the catch?" or "What service(s) are you cutting?" With all this said, we had to create a company mission that "drowned out" the fact that we are a rebate/discount brokerage firm.
Our mission statement: Revitalizing homeownership in America to make the purchase of a home more rewarding and the selling of a house more economical. We give buyers (and) sellers four different options so we can meet them at their individual point of need.
Unlike the other companies before us, we use (an) a la carte approach instead of a one-size-fits-all approach that hurts margins. IBuy Realty gives consumers … control, options and savings.
Q: What are the major products and services offered by your company, and the cost of these products and services?
A: IBuy Realty has four different buyer packages that meet homebuyers at their individual point of need. This approach gives our Realtors a competitive advantage over other buyer’s agents.
As an agent with iBuy Realty, you don’t have to seek, find, and forward properties to buyers for (the) iBuy Control, iBuy Options and iBuy Savings (buyer packages). As an agent, you only allow them access to the property and facilitate the transaction to closing once they find a property.
IBuy Classic is the only buyer package where our agents actually seek listings to forward to their buyers. This concept will afford you buyers that you may have never been able to reach given the traditional model. Our concept is built on the premise of a cooperative consultative collaboration.
This way of conducting business saves our Realtors time and money, which results in more closings.
IBuy Realty has four seller packages (iBuy Owner, iBuy Half, iBuy FREE and iBuy Traditional) that allow sellers the opportunity to select the best package that satisfies their individual needs. By partnering with sellers and charging less than the industry’s standard 6 percent commission, iBuy Realty is able to help sellers keep more of their money while delivering better results.
IBuy Realty makes effective use of technology and the Internet to complement seller services, and we are ultimately able to pass the savings on to our clients while maintaining profitability.
Q: What are the company’s most popular products/services?
A: Our most popular buyer package is iBuy Savings, where buyers get 1 percent of our commission credited on their (HUD-1 settlement statement). Our most popular seller package is iBuy FREE. Sellers are in the market to sell and then buy a new home.
The house they are selling must be (priced at) $200,000 or more (to qualify). IBuy Realty will hold an amount equivalent to 1.5 percent of the home’s selling price. When the seller sells and then (buys) a new home, that 1.5 percent will then be rebated on the HUD-1 of the home the same client purchases. This process keeps everyone honest and with skin in the game.
Q: What makes the company’s product and service offerings unique?
A: IBuy Realty has a business model that has a very strong potential to go nationwide and gain substantial market share, unlike the other rebate/discount companies before us.
We have studied why they failed and have comprehensively designed a balanced model using (an) a la carte menu of services that charges a range of fees for listings and offers a range of rebates based on and backed by national statistics and data.
This "range" approach is what allows a rebate/discount brokerage to increase (its) margins, be attractive to Realtors, and have the manpower to gain market share.
Another thing that makes iBuy Realty unique is, unlike other rebate/discount brokerages before us, we will equally focus on getting listings. We have to drive listings to gain market share.
With (some) of the rebate/discount brokerages before us, (the) majority of their clients were buyers. To gain market share, our focus has to be on getting listings, and we are doing just that given our business model.
We are at a 60/40 mix right now: 60 (percent) listings and 40 (percent) buyers. This is a healthy ratio for us.
Q: What is the company’s customer base?
A: We don’t just have to focus on the savvy and independent consumer. We are set up for savvy to traditional consumers. If you want to find your own home and do all the research, great. Then, you qualify for the largest rebate. If you just want to put your house on the (multiple listing service), great. Pay us $495 and we will upload your home, take photos, and you are live. If you are in the market to sell a house and then buy a new home, and it’s over $200,000, we will sell your house for free.
Our company is set up for every situation. Select the package that compliments your experience, along with the support you need to successfully close your transaction.
Q: What are the company’s main competitors?
A: We all know that more and more buyers are looking for their own house. We all know that sellers want to preserve their hard-earned equity. But how? With a comprehensive approach. It may come off to others as being naive, but I don’t consider another brokerage a competitor.
(Other brokers) don’t do what we do, the way we do it. Our task is to teach consumers (the masses) that we are a viable option, and how to use our service to complement their needs. We are not targeting for-sale-by-owners. Our firm is set up (for) any buyer or seller, which is what separates us from our predecessors.
Q: As the founder, what is your background?
A: I am the founder (and) president of iBuy Realty and new CEO (and) president of Spencer School of Real Estate, the first real estate school in Houston, Texas, dating back to 1975. I (received) two master’s degrees in education before turning 30. I am now 39. (I’ve spent) the majority of my years in real estate on the mortgage side of the fence.
I was a branch manager of Countrywide/Bank of America, which is when I conceived the idea (of) iBuy Realty to help more buyers with the down payment on their new home and, given the billions of dollars lost in equity; and help sellers with the cost of selling a house.
Q: What is the amount of outside funding received to date?
A: A $25,000 grant … won at a business plan competition (in 2009) offered by Black Enterprise Magazine, partnered with MillerCoors.
We will be seeking funding for expansion at the end of this year. We already have a few interested sources.
Q: Is the company profitable now?
Q: What are the company’s growth plans for the current calendar year?
A: IBuy Realty is set to begin the franchising process, meaning that we will begin the process of franchising our brand with a local company in Houston that provides franchise services for (companies that want) to sell their systems and use of their brand to other entrepreneurs.
The process takes four months, via the company that we are hiring. We don’t want to sell our first franchise until the third quarter of 2013. We plan to take a very methodical approach to expanding in other markets.
Although the franchise process will be completed by October of this year (2012), the objective is to build our brand in one of the best markets in the country: Houston, Texas.
We will notify everyone nationally about our intentions and the start date that we will accept request(s) for franchising opportunities with iBuy Realty.
We plan to focus on the larger major metropolitan areas first. The top 10 are as follows: Houston; Austin, Texas; San Antonio, Texas; Dallas; Fort Worth, Texas; the San Francisco Bay Area; (markets in) Arizona; Chicago; Atlanta; and New York.
We are franchising our model and leveraging the iBuy brand. Our system … is conducive to every market throughout the U.S. In nonrebate states, we have an amended model that does not include our buyer packages.
Q: Which technology trends and market trends is the company watching most closely?
A: The biggest trend is to watch how consumers leverage and use technology. They have access to excess information. The objective is to understand their habits and behavior in regards to how they buy and sell real estate. When you understand this fact, then you create a service that compliments them.
Q: What new products, product features and services is the company investing in most heavily?
A: Our biggest investment right now is our website and franchise fee. Our current website does us no justice. In July, we will be rolling out a very comprehensive website that will be able to compete with the best of them. It is a phenomenal piece of work.
It’s vivid, simple, functional, educational, fun and informative. Everything a buyer or seller wants in a real estate website. We expect to have one of the best real estate brokerage websites in the country. With that said, the price tag given this feat is pretty stiff.
Setting up a company to be franchised is not cheap. We are hiring a turnkey company that is going to set iBuy Realty up so we can begin selling and training new iBuy Realty owners around the country. This is a big investment to hire a company for this service.
Q: Any upcoming releases/developments?
A: Our website is going to allow sellers to select, build, close out, and purchase the package and marketing plan that best fits their needs. Lastly, we currently have interest in nine different markets (for franchises).
We were not ready at the time to expand because we were still testing our model, critiquing it, and making adjustments. Realtors are excited because it also gives them options that doesn’t require them to give all their commission away or discount a listing when it doesn’t make sense to do so.
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