Technology

The guy who co-built Uber is coming for real estate

New digital platform Haus puts a listing's offers online (anonymously) for all potential buyers to see
  • Today Garrett Camp, co-founder of Uber and CEO of Expa Studios, released a new digital platform that digitizes the offer submission and acceptance process.
  • For now Haus is available only in California. There is no charge to use it, which might change once the company determines how to improve the "negotiation process."

Disrupt, change, overhaul. We use these verbs a lot when we talk about the dramatic evolution of technology and real estate’s willingness (and hesitancy) to adapt. And the quintessential story of how a company can single-handedly upset an entire industry always comes back to one startup: Uber.

Yet Uber has never really had any direct lines to real estate — until today, when Garrett Camp, co-founder of the revolutionary online transportation network, unveiled a new digital platform that constitutes an official foray into residential buying and selling.

The platform is called Haus, and it’s not trying to compete with the Zillows and realtor.coms of the world in the crowded space of online home search.

Rather, Haus’s main purpose is to digitize the offer submission and acceptance process. As reported by TechCrunch, the platform lets “sellers put their listing on the platform, where buyers and their agents can both post their offers, amend them, and see an anonymized version of other offers that have been made on the property.” Right now, Haus is only available in California and does not appear to have an app version.

Screenshot from Haus.com.

Screenshot from Haus.com.

Haus aims to offer more than convenience. With homeowners and buyers able to see the offers sprawled out before them like a deck of cards, Haus is also touting more transparency in an industry that is sometimes criticized for being opaque at the consumer’s cost.

The information available to potential buyers about a listing on Haus includes the terms of the offer in addition to the price. Names remain confidential.

“We think the openness will create a more efficient market and that the number of offers and price will ultimately be dependent on demand,” Haus GM Sarah Ham told TechCrunch. “Bidding wars are a common, almost accepted, part of the real estate process today. But with our approach, buyers know where they stand. Buyers will know what they need to offer to make their offer competitive, but they also won’t negotiate against themselves.”

Total transparency, however, doesn’t come without risks. The potential to see all the details of an offer could increase the chances of a bidding war or give way to artificial inflation. From a seller’s perspective, keeping buyers in the dark could actually result in a higher offer overall, as no one is aware of the highest price-to-beat and could well overshoot it.

Screenshot from Haus.com.

Screenshot from Haus.com.

In this case, perhaps uberize is the more appropriate verb for the inspiration behind Haus. Camp told TechCrunch: “Collecting offers and presenting them is a very manual process, the way that town car companies would pick up a phone, write the fare on the board, and send the next available driver to that location.

“It just seems much more efficient for agents to use a platform to coordinate all of this information automatically.”

Currently, Haus is free. The company may start charging through the broker’s fee once it figures out how to add value to the “negotiation process,” according to the TechCrunch interview. The project falls under Expa Studios, of which Camp is CEO.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated. 

Email Caroline Feeney.

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