BuyerCurious.com, a startup aimed at allowing consumers to buy houses without any professional representation, has expanded its business model by launching an online real estate brokerage offering discounted commissions to sellers and rebates to buyers.
Empower Realty uses technology developed by BuyerCurious.com, which raised $1.5 million last year to build out its platform, to let buyers who have already picked out the home they want build the first draft of an offer online.
After the draft is transmitted to Empower Realty’s team of brokers for review, terms can be discussed in a private chat room and modified as necessary. When the buyer is satisfied with the offer, terms are transmitted to the seller, initiating a paperless negotiation and a 30-day agency relationship.
“With information so readily available on great search sites like Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com, many consumers know what they want to buy even before they contact an agent,” Empower Realty CEO and principal broker Jim Lesinski said in a statement. As a result, “there is no reason consumers on either side of a deal need to pay as much as they do for a real estate transaction.”
Empower Realty will charge sellers as little as 4.25 percent to represent their listing, and buyers using Empower Realty to close on a $300,000 listing will receive up to $4,000 cash back at closing, the company said.
It’s similar to the approach pioneered by Redfin and ZipRealty, companies that become national names and inspired others like Suitey, Findwell and Urban Compass to follow in their footsteps. But ZipRealty discontinued buyer rebates in 2011, and Redfin has scaled its rebates back to beef up the services provided by its agents.
Empower Realty is a licensed broker in Minnesota and a wholly owned subsidiary of DealCurious LLC, the Execlsior, Minn.-based provider of BuyerCurious.com. Soon, the three firms will be unified under the “Empower” name, Lesinski said.
Lesinski has plans to organically grow the technology-focused brokerage nationwide. Just like Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com have become the go-to sources for consumer real estate search and information, Lesinski hopes Empower Realty will be the place consumers look to complete a transaction.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with comments from Empower Realty’s founder and CEO Jim Lesinsky.