Brokerage

Get paid for connecting your clients to home improvement deals

RealtorMaven lets contractors pay real estate agents for referrals

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A New York-based tech startup focused on social referrals says it’s chosen real estate as the focus for its first vertical market platform, RealtorMaven, which lets real estate agents earn cash for referring clients to service providers like home improvement contractors and movers.

Businesses using LocalMaven’s real estate-focused platform start the process by creating a deal for real estate agents to offer to their clients, such as a discount for the services they provide. It’s also up to the businesses to decide how much they will pay for referrals. Businesses pay real estate agents a commission for each successful referral, with RealtorMaven taking a percentage of each payment.

Providers of settlement services — including title insurers, appraisers and home inspectors — are prohibited by the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) from paying real estate agents and others in a position to refer business to them on a per-client basis. But RESPA would not apply to other services that are not required to get to the closing table, such as construction and remodeling.

“New homeowners and renters rely on Realtors for recommendations on everything from contractors to movers and from kitchen cabinet suppliers to lighting companies,” LocalMaven CEO Arnon Rosan said in a statement. “Realtors already give referrals daily and often get compensated for them. We felt the real estate industry needed a tool for Realtors and businesses to manage this process and to encourage these types of referrals.”

RealtorMaven is recruiting real estate agents and businesses in the New York City area and plans to expand nationally in late 2015. All users of the platform will be screened for quality, the company said.

Other ventures that seek to connect home improvement contractors with consumers include Porch, Houzz and Pro.com.

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Porch, which recently raised more than $65 million in funding that it will use for a growth push, welcomes real estate agents to create profiles on the platform, but has no mechanism for them to profit by referring business to other users.

Porch has a partnership with realtor.com that lets consumers research past improvements made to particular properties. Leads generated by the reports are wrapped into realtor.com’s “Connection for Co-Brokerage” advertising product, unbranded lead forms for buyer’s agents that appear on some realtor.com listing detail pages.