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Startup abandons FSBO platform

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A month after launching, a San Francisco-based real estate startup has dropped its flat-fee service for for-sale-by-owner sellers to focus on serving real estate agents.

Reaslo Inc., which does business as Reesio, is a real estate technology company and a licensed California brokerage founded in January. The company originally offered to help home sellers in California advertise their home in the local multiple listing service, and provided tools to automate transaction paperwork and tasks normally handled by agents, at no charge.

Reesio intended to generate revenue by charging home sellers not working with an agent a flat fee for access to a dashboard that allowed them to review, accept, counter and reject offers. The company also planned to roll out a similar product for real estate professionals that would allow them to manage the transaction process for their clients.

Now, Reesio co-founder and CEO Mark Thomas says the company has decided to abandon the FSBO seller platform, which officially debuted Aug. 21, and will focus exclusively on the product for real estate professionals. Reesio began a "soft launch" of the product Monday and will do the full rollout on Nov. 15.

In making the change, Reesio will become an even more direct competitor to companies like DotLoop and Cartavi, each of which provide a paperless transaction management platform for real estate professionals.

Thomas said the company made the decision after hearing from agents and brokers who praised Reesio’s platform, mainly through the company’s website, and said they wanted the product for themselves.

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"We’re all about listening to our customers. If customers are asking for this and the opportunity there is big — there’s a lot of agents out there — then it just makes sense to give them what they want," Thomas said.

While Reesio had had to solicit FSBO clients to familiarize them with the platform, agents and brokers were actively seeking the company out, he said.

"We started to think that if brokers are coming to us without us having to do much, this might be a better way to go," he said. "We can spend time and money and get for-sale-by-owner clients, or we don’t spend time and money getting agent clients."

"It really comes down to the fact that they solicited us regarding the product as opposed to us soliciting them," he added.


Screen shot of Reesio’s new home page.  

Reesio had originally envisioned that real estate professionals would make up perhaps 10 or 20 percent of the company’s business, but since launch the majority of interest has come from agents, Thomas said.

The company got six listings in the two weeks after the platform’s launch, he said, and some of those listings are still in process. The company stopped accepting listings on its seller platform about 10 days ago, when it made the decision to focus its business model on agents.

"When you get down to it, if the majority of your clientele would be agents then it becomes pretty obvious that you can’t offer a competing product," Thomas said.

Like the seller platform, the agent platform contains every legal document, contract and disclosure required to complete a real estate transaction in California. It auto-populates the documents based on input from the listing agent or the seller, depending on the document. Listing agents can create listings, have Reesio syndicate the listings to third-party websites via ListHub, and invite clients to the platform. 


Mark Thomas

Real estate professionals do not have to upload their own documents or dictate to their clients which document to fill out and when, Thomas said. The system automatically prompts each party — listing agent, seller, buyer’s agent, buyer — to fill out the appropriate paperwork at the appropriate time throughout the transaction process.

"It’s the same product except instead of us being the listing agent, it’s someone else who’s the listing agent, but the entire flow is still the same," Thomas said.

One difference is that instead of Reesio putting a listing on the MLS for a FSBO seller, listing agents will be responsible for doing that for their clients themselves. "But it’s really very easy, just copy and paste the link" to the listing created on Reesio, Thomas said.

Reesio has not gotten any pushback from MLSs about its original seller product, Thomas said.

As part of the seller platform, Reesio had developed a network of just over 300 real estate agents and brokers in California who would, for a flat fee, conduct photography, broker price opinions (BPOs), and open houses Reesio offered sellers at no charge. Now, listing agents will do that work themselves, Thomas said, and that network will be going away.

"A lot of them are some of the agents that have said, ‘We want this product for ourselves,’ so they’re becoming customers for us," he said.

While the seller’s platform charged a $1,000 flat fee, the agent version of the platform will be available to listing agents on a monthly subscription basis. The platform is free to buyer’s agents unless they want to create listings on the platform. Buyers and sellers can access the platform for free.

If a buyer wants to work within the Reesio platform but does not have representation, Reesio offers to work as his or her buyer’s agent and rebate 40 percent of the commission back to the buyer. Both Thomas and co-founder Uyen Tran are licensed California brokers. If necessary, Reesio will bring on another broker or two to handle those situations, Thomas said.

But thus far, nearly all those who have been interested in a Reesio listing have been buyer’s agents, not buyers, "so we think the situation of a buyer coming into our product without an agent will be pretty rare," he said.

Reesio will never be a listing agent for a seller, Thomas added.

"Listing agents are paying us a subscription to use our product, and we wouldn’t feel right about offering a competitive service to sellers while listing agents are paying us money — that’s not the way we do business," he said. 

Once the full version of the agent platform launches Nov. 15, agents will have two choices regarding pricing. They can choose to receive a 30-day free trial with no credit card required until after the trial. At that point, the service will cost $199 per month. Or, agents can choose to forgo the 30-day trial and pay only $159 per month for the first year and $199 per month starting in the second year. With either option, users can cancel their subscription at any time.

"The reason we settled on $199 a month is because brokers were telling us they would pay between $200 and $500 a month for a product like this because most of them have an assistant," and the platform would allow them to get rid of that assistant, Thomas said.

And by streamlining the paperwork involved with a transaction, real estate pros would also have more time to go out and prospect for new clients, he added.

Discounts will be available on a case-by-case for brokerages that sign up multiple agents, Thomas said.

As part of its soft launch, Reesio is accepting up to 100 presubscriptions to the product. In return for early adoption and providing feedback, presubscribers will be able to have access to the platform for $49 a month for as long as they remain a Reesio customer. Their credit cards will not be charged until Nov. 25; the soft launch period is an extended free trial.

Agents in the San Francisco Bay Area can also opt to meet with Reesio in person for 30 minutes to provide feedback on the product and get paid $50 for their time, Thomas said.

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