Fifteen startups are presenting at Realogy’s annual competition, the Realogy FWD Summit in New York today. On the line is $25,000 and placement in Realogy’s ZapStore. Which of these companies has the potential to change your business? Follow our live updates.
Update 2:58 p.m. EST
Hurdlr, a business expenses and and income-tracking app, has won Realogy FWD, nabbing $25,000 and a spot in Realogy’s ZapStore. Agentology was runner-up and Transported placed third.
Back-end tasks like accounting aren’t “very sexy, but they’re needed,” said Hurdlr CEO Raj Bhaskar to applause.
Update: 2:48 p.m. EST
The three finalists are Agentology, Transported and Hurdlr. Attendees are voting for their favorite through text message. The winner will be announced shortly.
Update: 2:45 p.m. EST
After the last startup pitch wrapped up, Alex Perriello, chairman emeritus of Realogy Franchise Group, made a quick appearance on stage, reflecting on how Realogy FWD and the nature of its participants have evolved over time.
“The sophistication level of what was presented today was far far better than it was five years ago,”Perriello said. “Each year it’s gotten better and better.”
He noted that a few past contestants focused on putting real estate agents out of business, but that most are now tackling more specific problems, he said.
His top picks from the day’s 15 contestants were MyPlanit, Studeo, Broker Sumo and Holmes. Most listings are advertised generically, but Studeo enhances listing marketing, he said.
Update: 2:33 p.m. EST
Three startups built by franchisees affiliated with Realogy brands or brokerages also presented their products, though they weren’t official contestants in the competition.
Voiceter Pro is a voice-based home search tool for consumers. Users can state their search criteria, such as price and location, and the app will read out information on listings that match that criteria.
Arti is a “mobile-first” transaction management system developed by real estate agents. Founded by broker-owners of an ERA affiliate, Arti’s goal is to simplify the business “by bringing a series of technologies together in a single platform that makes a much better experience both for our agents and ultimately for our consumers,” a co-founder said.
The platform spans marketing and lead generation, deal management and client retention. It will process about 3,500 transactions in 2017, he he said.
RealtyMe is an app that allows homesellers to track their transaction in real time. Sellers can get real estate information through a social media news feed-type experience, such as recent sales and price reductions.
Realty Me is seeking to pull in much more information through all manner of APIs (application programming interfaces), including those connecting to transaction management systems and automated valuation models (AVMs). It also sends sellers a daily report on their listing traffic.
Update: 2:05 p.m. EST
VirtualAPT uses a robot to capture 360-degree video home tours.
“We want to save our time as consumers which in turns saves lots of time for brokers,” a co-founder said.
The company sends two people to a house with the robot and maps out a home through a camera that shoots out thousands of lasers. An agent can accompany the robot as it moves, so they can give an on-camera presentation throughout the video.
The tours cost 70 cents per square foot. VirtualAPT’s sweet spot is homes priced at $1.5 million or more, the co-founder said.
He claimed that the technology is “kind of two generations” after leading 3-D provider Matterport.
Update: 1:52 p.m. EST
Remzy connects homebuyers with owners of unlisted homes to ask about purchasing them.
“We believe the real estate industry is being held back by a lack of inventory,” a co-founder said. “We think that those homeowners who are building equity would be more willing to test the market if prompted.”
Whereas looking into unlisted properties normally requires door-knocking and letter-writing, agents can use Remzy to easily send offers to homeowners.
The service costs $20 a month per agent. Making the first is offer and each additional one is $15.
Last month, 40 percent of homeowners who receive doffers through Remzy called the agent back, he said.
“The agent has a conversation with their buyer and says look tell me what you like on the market,” he said.
“We’re not there to tell the agent what person is more apt to sell. Let the buyer go through and pick the five or six houses they want to reach out to.”
Remzy sends the offers through FedEx so they stick out from normal mail.
Update: 1:40 p.m. EST
MyPlanit “remembers your past makes you smarter in the present and helps plan your future,” a co-founder said.
It’s billed as an app that “records, organizes and analyzes an agent’s activities while they’re in the field.”
Users can view listings, get directions to a home and call a client, among many other things.
“No more jumping from app to app,” the co-founder said. “For the first time, everything you need is centralized … to maximize your productivity.”
Agents can look up all the homes they’ve shown a client; all the homes they’ve shown that client in the last last week, “last month or last year, or all the ones with kitchens that he liked,” she said.
“All of it is searchable by time, location and text,” she said. “With a single tap you can show a client all the homes you sold in the area you’re looking.”
myPlanit has a consumer app out and is launching an agent app in October.
Update: 1:30 p.m. EST
Transported is the number one real estate app on Facebook’s virtual-reality platform, a co-founder said. It provides 3-D home tours and serves as an “emotion delivery machine,” a co-founder said.
Users can teleport from room to room within a home and click tags to learn about amenities, such as stainless steel appliances. “If you’re sick of paying other people for leads give customers a reason for coming to you,” he said. “Zillow doesn’t have this content for this experience.”
The tours are viewable through VR headsets and on desktop and mobile devices. They can be captured through dozens of cameras on the market that are “accessible at all price points,” he said. A firehouse of cash is pouring into 3-D home tours. “We just want to be the very best software for this industry.”
Update: 12:17 p.m. EST
BrokerSumo is a “back-office commission management and accounting platform for brokerages,” said co-founder Jeremy Shoenig during the company’s presentation.
It bridges the gap between transaction management and accounting software, he said, and is simple and accessible for small brokerages, unlike existing software.
Brokers can use the platform to manage agent billings, calculate commission splits and directly pay those splits to agents. It’s processed $82 million in commission payments since launching in October of last year.
Users can also track their financials and the return on investment of their marketing spend.
BrokerSumo’s clients were mostly using Excel before adopting its product. “There was nothing really out there that did this for them,” Shoenig said.
Commission management is definitely the most compelling feature of the platform, he added. “Direct deposit has been really huge.”
Update: 12:03 p.m. EST
ListingZen’s co-founder is a professional real estate photographer who has shot the estates of Elon Musk and Madonna. He got wrapped up in his artistry and could drag his feet sometimes, but he had a wake-up call when one client said she needed her photos ASAP or she’d drop him.
He built ListingZen to help expedite the content production and the delivery process.
Agents can use the platform to request photography and other services, such as 3-D home tours, and then access the content through the platform. It also allows agents to market their listings through social media, single-property websites and more.
About a dozen photographers can be hired through the platform, but ListingZen plans to open up its marketplace to other vendors.
The startup is serving 1,500 agents in Los Angeles at the moment.
“We want to be everywhere,” the co-founder said.
Update: 11:52 EST
“How difficult is it to get them to write a review or write a testimonial?” asked a co-founder of Snap21, an app for easily requesting, and then promoting, online reviews.
Snap21 promises that over 50 percent of an agent’s clients will post a review if they receive review requests through Snap21. Reviews posted through the system can show up in business profile modules that appear in Google search results pages.
But they are posted on Snap21’s website, not on dedicated real estate sites. It can prompt clients who leave reviews with Snap21 to then visit Zillow, for example, to post a review there, but only 5 to 8 percent choose to do so.
Update: 11:40 a.m. EST
Holmes is an artificially-intelligent assistant that can automatically converse with and provide listing data to leads. It can even send empathetic comments if leads make reference to a difficult situation, such as a divorce.
About 10 percent of leads that engage with Holmes agree to set up an appointment, according to the co-founder presenting. “Holmes is your AI ISA [inside sales assistant],” he said.
Holmes has a “human fallback” team that will pick up conversations if the assistant is stumped by a lead’s comment. Holmes costs $99 for an agent, but that’s much cheaper than hiring a human assistant, a co-founder noted.
Update: 11:30 a.m. EST
Agent Inbox is “messaging platform that connects brokers, agents and consumers in one place, to communicate around listing data.” Part of the goal is to take text messages and emails out of agent-to-agent communications to centralize communications and better store records of them.
It’s deployed its messaging platform across 30 MLSs. A buyer’s agent could ask a listing agent questions about a property and then privately message a transaction coordinator to draft an offer, a co-founder said.
You can also look up any agent MLS member by name, phone number email or MLS.
It’s like “Slack for real estate” as far as internal communication within teams and brokerages, but goes further because the platform “allows two agents that are working on both sides of the transaction to communicate,” the co-founder said.
MLSs, teams and brokerages can license the technology.
Update: 11:20 a.m. EST
Boost from Homespotter is a way for agents, teams and brokers … to automate their online digital marketing campaigns, a co-founder said.
It can automatically render listing data into a Facebook ad.
“It’s really easy to get a campaign up and running,” the co-founder said. “We don’t ask you complicated questions.”
You can visit homespotter.com and enter your brokerage and address to generate a sample listing ad, including a photo of the listing agent.
Many tools let agents place ads or build lead pages, but HomeSpotter’s ability to bring “that altogether and have it be automatic and have trackable ROI on it” is what sets HomeSpotter apart from other lead-generation products, the co-founder said.
HomeSpotter has dozens and dozens of clients with listing volumes of thousands per month, he said.
The retail price for a week of HomeSpotter’s promotion of one listing is $59, but “those numbers come down a fair amount with volume,” he said.
Hurdlr provides business insight for agents.
“Our profit dash mobile app actively tracks agents’ financials … and provides proactive guidance to help them hit their GCI [gross commission income] and net income goals,” a co-founder of Hurdlr said.
The app can show the profitability of every listing closed.
“The key thing to track is your expenses and your, taxes so you can run a truly profitable business,” he said. “Well, we automate all of that.”
Hurdlr uses a “real-time income tax calculation” that supports all 50 states and D.C. It can connect with around 15,000 banks to track a user’s balance and expenses. The app can flag transactions that might be tax deductible.
Update: 11:00 a.m. EST
Agentology is a lead engagement and qualification service for real estate agents.
You’re 21 times more likely to convert cold lead into client if you respond quickly, rather than 30 minutes later, said co-founder David Tal.
Agentology handles that on behalf of agents. It “increases conversion rates 200 to 300 percent for agents, according to Tal.
“Agents are referring about 20 percent of the leads that we qualify for them back into the network,” through a component of the tool that allows them to send qualified leads to other agents and collect referral fees.
Agentology is on track to close $1 billion in transaction volume from the referral network alone, David said.
Agents who see leads they don’t want can say, “I don’t want that one, click, boom.”
Agentology wants to “make sure that … their team is available 24/7,” he said. “25 percent of leads come in after hours.”
The service costs from $4 to $6 a lead.
Update: 10:48 a.m. EST
VimChat is an “SMS communication application that simplifies and organizes interactions between consumer, agents and brokers.”
VimChat uses texting on your sites to capture a lead. It invites people to text anonymously because “no one wants to get a call back from an agent … you have to develop that trust,” said CEO and founder Brent Wickam, who used to be an agent himself.
The platform currently serves about 1,000 agent users. “You’re starting to see texts come into the marketplace … that’s why we made this anonymous, to create that trust, to capture as many leads as possible,” he said.
VimChat plans to integrate with CRMs and Realogy’s technology platform, Zap.
Update: 10:40 a.m. EST
“Nobody has really figured out how to execute a storytelling in [an] impactful and scalable way,” said Studeo co-founder Rebecca Rose.
It takes a combination of editorial design and technology that renders listing content into a creative story, she said. Any type of media can be woven into these narratives.
“It behaves like a website and you can distributed and share it like a virtual tour,” she said. You can embed the stories on your website and through email, among many other channels.
Chatbots can be integrated into Studeo’s listing sites to help with converting visitors into leads. Branding and domain names are customizable.
“This is really about demonstrating in a tangible and emotional way to the people you’re addressing that you understand them and their community,” Rose said. Sellers have canceled listing appointments with other agents after they view Studeo stories.
Studeo has about 12 brokerage clients. It takes “media that normally takes a lot of production work,” she said. “We’ve actually automated all of that.”
Partners are looking for agents they want to draw in, and they tell agents they’ll cover the cost of Studeo as a way to attract them, she said.
Update: 10:30 a.m. EST
How do you make your Facebook page a lead magnet? Dispatch uses a Facebook Messenger bot to allow agents to respond automatically to prospective buyers and sellers that engage their Facebook page.
“Our posts have the magic of the bot attached to it,” said co-founder Clark Giguiere. “The Messenger channel is an emerging place to be and we want to put you there first.”