Houlihan Lawrence is equipping 1,200 agents serving New York City’s tony northern suburbs with Updater, a service that allows brokers and agents to brand and streamline the change-of-address process for their buyers and sellers.
Updater allows consumers to update their mailing address with the U.S. Postal Service, hook up new home services like gas, electric, cable TV and Internet, and update their various accounts all with one service.
So far, approximately 100 brokerages have signed up to provide Updater to their agents, said David Greenberg, Updater’s founder and CEO. Houlihan Lawrence is one of the largest brokerages the New York City-based startup has signed up to date, he said.
The firm has found that the app saves clients about five hours of time and about 20 phone calls from their moving-related tasks, Greenberg said.
Updater does two things for Westchester County, New York-based Houlihan Lawrence, said Anne Marie Gianutsos, head of digital at the brokerage. It helps the firm recruit agents by setting it apart from its competitors, and it reinforces the firm’s client-centric brand by providing immense value to its buyers and sellers, she said.
Houlihan Lawrence says it has an exclusive deal with Updater that prevents other brokerages from purchasing the tool for their agents in Houlihan Lawrence’s core market area of Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties, and Fairfield County, Connecticut.
Currently over 10,000 businesses accept the change-of-address request from Updater. For those that don’t, Updater will either guide users through the process by helping them select service providers or will do it for them at their request, Greenberg said.
Gianutsos confirmed Greenberg’s claims. She tested Updater herself in a recent move. It took 10 to 15 minutes to change her address with the Postal Service, set up her utilities, and update her address for all her credit cards, subscriptions and catalogs, she said.
A member of the inaugural National Association of Realtors’ 2013 REach tech accelerator class, Updater closed an $8 million funding round in April that included participation by NAR’s investment wing, Second Century Ventures LLC.
In July, agents with Updater accounts gained the ability to send clients invitations to the service through the real estate form-filling tool zipForm.
While Updater is available to consumers, the tool’s premium features, including access to an around-the-clock concierge service, are available to consumers only through a real estate agent who has an Updater account. Agents can purchase an account themselves, ensuring that their photo, name and contact info show up in the tool, or their brokerage can provide it to them.
Brokerages can purchase one of two flavors of the service for their agents. A basic version brands the Updater tool to the brokerage. Houlihan Lawrence, which operates 26 offices, purchased the premium version of Updater, which allows agents to brand the tool with a headshot and personalized messages to clients.
Prices vary by the size of a brokerage, said Jenna Weinerman, Updater’s marketing director. The stand-alone agent product goes for $149 per year, she said.