Startup brokerage Houwzer offers homesellers a $2,500 rebate they can transfer to family, friends

Operating in Philly and D.C., the company is raising its flat listing fee from $995 to $2,500, but courting millennials and their relatives with its new Houwzer Assist credit

The flat-free real estate brokerage Houwzer has a new way for homebuyers and sellers to save money: customers who sell a home with Houwzer will receive a $2,500 rebate toward buying a home with the startup, which they can transfer to a family member or friend. That rebate matches the price of Houwzer’s new (higher) flat listing fee: up to $2,500 instead of its previous $995.

Houwzer CEO Mike Maher | Credit: Houwzer

Houwzer CEO Mike Maher envisions the rebate, called Houwzer Assist, as perfect for a rich uncle selling one of his three homes who can transfer the buying credit toward his millennial niece or nephew buying their first home.

“Millennials with negative equity don’t have purchasing power with the way prices have appreciated, they have student debt to pay back,” Maher said. “This is a way to bridge the gap.”

Houwzer launched in 2016 and raised $2 million in seed funding in 2017. The Philadelphia-based startup buys and sells homes in the Philly and Washington, D.C. metro areas. The company employs salaried listing and buyer’s agents.

The startup started out charging as little as $495 at closing for sellers alongside the buyer’s agent fee. More recently, the company has been charging homesellers $995. But Houwzer is now announcing a higher flat fee of $2,500 — a development it says is good for consumers, and likely still less than what a seller would pay with a traditional brokerage’s 5 or 6 percent commission.

“Customers want to know that the agent who’s advising them through the entire transaction is making real money,” Maher said. “We have the best in class price-to-experience ratio.”

Houwzer’s fee increase is arriving alongside its new homebuying credit. The company introduced the rebate after analyzing its customer base and realizing there was a generational disconnect between homesellers and homebuyers using the platform.

Customers are allowed to use the rebate on any home purchase where the buyer’s agent commission is more than $5,000.

While other companies offer rebates after closing — some in cash instead of credit toward a home purchase — Houwzer believes its new offering is unique because the rebate is transferable and doesn’t expire. The company also says it plans to offer the rebate to everyone who has sold a home with Houwzer already.

Of course, the rebate is limited right now by Houwzer’s scale. A homeseller in the Philadelphia and D.C. regions can only transfer the $2,500 credit to a homebuyer also located in those same parts of the country.

But Houwzer is hoping to add a third market in the coming months. For now, rich uncles in Philadelphia and D.C. can get started.

Email Emma Hinchliffe