Zillow Group has hinted at plans to create a virtual co-shopping experience for homebuyers and their agents.
Now the company appears to have taken a step in that direction by leading a $10 million Series A financing round for Los-Angeles based Hutch Interiors (Hutch), a startup that uses augmented-reality technology to allow users to visualize new designs for their homes and property listings. The move marks the real estate giant’s first step into the investment space.
“For real estate professionals, Hutch offers a seamless way to virtually stage their listings on behalf of sellers, or, for buyers who may need help imagining their life in the home,” said Zillow Group spokeswoman Amanda Woolley.
Zillow Group CEO Spencer Rascoff will join Hutch’s board of directors as part of the deal, bringing “extensive tech startup and real estate experience to their existing leadership team.”
“A huge hurdle both renters and buyers face is envisioning themselves in a new home,” Rascoff said in a statement. “By investing in Hutch, we are enabling breakthrough innovation that enhances online home shopping and design experiences.”
Hutch allows users to apply decor filters over furnished rooms, peruse a catalog of design themes and make in-app purchases of items in the designs. The latest financing round brings its total equity funding to $17.14 million.
Inman’s tech reviewer Craig C. Rowe wrote that he could “envision Hutch having a lot of use for agents who work with out-of-town second and luxury homebuyers who are used to a more catered approach from agents.
“The app is very visual, juxtaposing item descriptions with high-res photography and full-screen virtual layouts. It does an excellent job of communicating to people how a room will not only look, but function, within its new decor,” Rowe said.
Zillow Group has “no plans at this time to add Hutch to Zillow Group” and is investing in the startup “to help them expand and innovate on its existing products and services and attract more users to its apps,” Woolley said.
But it’s easy to imagine how Zillow Group could fold Hutch technology into its mobile apps, including its app for Zillow Digs, a resource that can be used to browse home designs and see project cost estimates.
“Zillow Group’s mission is to service people throughout their home lifecycle, making the real estate process more transparent and empowering people with information,” Woolley said. “Hutch has made the home design process, which can often be exhausting and expensive, and made it as easy as snapping a photo on your phone and adding a filter.”
Hutch was formerly known as Homee and allowed users to chat with a designer.
Its rebrand in 2017 nixed that feature and came with an overhauled app that applies interior design themes to existing rooms in a home. The app encourages users to buy furniture that looks best in their space.
Past investors in Hutch include Founders Fund, FF Angel, Sean Rad and Scooter Braun.