It’s 2018, almost 2019 — so shouldn’t you be able find and hail nearby real estate agents exactly when you need them through an app, like you can with Uber or Lyft drivers? Several apps have popped in recent years seeking to offer this functionality, but the soon-to-launch Agents OnDemand thinks that it has perfected the formula for both agents and clients.
“I was on the Uber app about a year ago and when I was booking a car to the airport, I saw the little cars on the map moving around in my neighborhood on the streets,” Charles Yancy, founder of Agents OnDemand told Inman. “And I looked at it and thought, why couldn’t there be something like this for real estate agents?”
Yancy, who says his company has been funded by private investors to an undisclosed amount, has a track record of success in building consumer-facing online real estate service. He was previously a vice president at the early 2000s-era map-based home search website newhomes.com, which ballooned from one office in Florida to offices in 35 states and $1.2 billion in sales before it was sold to a hedge fund and eventually acquired by Trulia, before Trulia was acquired by Zillow (NewHomes.com now redirects to Zillow.com).
Yancy’s new app works exactly like Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing apps. Consumers who download the forthcoming free iPhone or Android app can pull up their smartphone and can see on-duty agents in the area, represented by photos and profiles. They can tap on an agent’s profile to learn more about them, message them, call them directly, or see their active listings.
The app is free to use for consumers, and will also be accessible through a website for desktop computer users. Agent membership costs $30 a month, which gives agents the ability to advertise themselves in the app with a photo and contact information, as well as all their active listings 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Yancy envisions that the app will be a huge boost to agents that are only in the business part-time. He estimated that approximately 20 percent of the country’s agents are the ones working full-time and have all the listings and advertisements, but his app would be perfect for the other 80 percent.
“When a buyer tries to contact an agent – and I know you’ve heard this a million times – they’re so frustrated they call an agent and get a voicemail, or they’ll text them and they won’t get a response, or they’ll email them and they won’t get an email back for two days,” said Yancy. “That’s because so many of the agents are not available. They’re doing something else – they have another job or are not on duty.”
Agents can use the app similar to Uber drivers with Uber’s driver app: they will sign on as “On Duty,” or “Off Duty.” When “On Duty”, they’ll appear as tappable faces in the app. When they’re off duty, their services will still be searchable in their market — just not as immediately accessible. He explained that most apps are focused on the listing itself, but Agents OnDemand is focused on both the agent and the listing.
“Peoples schedules are hectic – they’re busy, they have very little time to shop for a house or start looking and when they do, they want to look now, on their schedule, on their time frame,” said Yancy. “I believe we will change the way America buys homes, just the way Uber changed the on-demand taxi industry.”
Yancy knows there are bound to be some questions about safety if the app is showing an on-duty agents location or the agent is setting up quick meetings before vetting the interested client, so they’ve built in a tool that automatically notifies an agent’s managing broker if they have a new connection or are going to a showing.
Agents OnDemand will also require consumers to register, so the agent isn’t blindly meeting a total stranger. Agents will also have the opportunity to communicate with the client before any meeting.
“We are cognizant of the safety issue,” said Yancy. “That is important.”
The platform’s launch is just a few weeks away, according to Yancy, but there’s also the chance that Agents OnDemand could be acquired before it comes to market. Yancy told to Inman that there has been interest from the industry, but was mum on potential partners.
“We have been approached [for acquisition] by a couple of the biggest players in the retail real estate industry,” said Yancy. “I can’t disclose any names, but yes, we have been approached by companies we’re all very familiar with that this would make a perfect fit for.”
Agents OnDemand isn’t the first company to unveil an agent-on-demand model. Nexme uses an Uber-like platform to connect buyers and sellers with agents within a 5-mile radius – as long as they are the first to accept the request, a multiple listing service in Colorado introduced an agent-on-demand feature, as have Offerpad, Redfin and the app Curb Call.
Yancy says compared to these other services, Agents OnDemand will be available in more markets, is simpler and easier to use, offers more instant connectivity between agents and potential clients, and has a lower price point for agents.