Four local Realtor associations have launched real estate tech accelerators as part of a National Association of Realtors pilot program.
The Austin Board of Realtors, the Denver Metro Association of Realtors, the Miami Association of Realtors and the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors were chosen by NAR’s for-profit strategic investment subsidiary, Second Century Ventures, in 2021 to pilot NAR REACH Labs, local extensions of the trade group’s REACH tech accelerator.
The associations held their first Innovation Showcase, which are quarterly events the associations host to present members with innovative technology from their local market, in fourth-quarter 2021 or first-quarter 2022, SCV said.
“The four pilot associations were selected based on their expression of interest, necessary resources (i.e. staff), and demonstrated commitment to engagement with the proptech ecosystem in their local market,” a spokesperson for Second Century Ventures told Inman via email.
The event featured virtual pitch presentations from healthcare startup CrowdHealth, home maintenance app Honeyydo, and offer management platform Jointly, with representatives from each company available live via chat to answer questions from Innovation Showcase attendees, ABoR spokesperson Danielle Hammett told Inman via email.
“The real estate industry is evolving rapidly, and it’s critical that agents and brokers take a proactive role in shaping the technology that they and their clients depend on every day,” said Emily Chenevert, CEO of ABoR and ACTRIS MLS, in a statement.
“Merely being an early adopter and staying ahead of emerging technologies will not alone ensure that agents are kept at the center of the transaction,” Chenevert added. “ABoR’s REACH Labs program is a gateway for our nearly 20,000 members to do just that.”
NAR’s for-profit strategic investment subsidiary Second Century Ventures launched the 1.5-million-member trade group’s tech accelerator, REACH, nearly a decade ago, in 2012 and has expanded it to include startups in the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom and Australia.
While SCV runs REACH, the local associations run and staff REACH Labs with operational and advisory support from the REACH scale-up team, the company added.
Asked whether NAR has dedicated funding to REACH Labs, the trade group said, “REACH Labs is focused on introducing innovative technology to the members of local associations. There is no investment commitment by SCV, REACH or the local association.”
The next Innovation Showcase events are tentatively scheduled for April 27, July 27, and November 3 and will take place at ABoR headquarters, both virtually and in-person, the trade group said. The cost to attend is $15 for ABoR members and $25 for non-members.
The association issued an open call for local or national startups to pitch their company a la “Shark Tank” at an upcoming Innovation Showcase event.
“Our Realtor members are not alone in our desire to streamline the home buying, selling and renting process,” Chenevert said.
“REACH Labs is an excellent opportunity for startups to refine their pitches and products with a boots-on-the-ground perspective on what’s needed in the industry today. If you have an emerging technology designed for real estate transactions and professionals, ABoR wants to hear from you.”
ABoR said it would be reaching out to tech incubators, chambers of commerce, and colleges and universities to encourage startups to apply.
“By participating, tech startups get live, boots-on-the-ground feedback on their pitch presentations, as well as an opportunity to connect with nearly 20,000 real estate professionals for potential partnerships, investment opportunities, and more,” Hammett said. “In return, real estate professionals get direct access to emerging real estate technologies and a seat at the table in vetting those solutions.”
Asked whether the tech company ABoR partially owns, MLS Technology Holdings, has anything to do with the tech accelerator, and whether any company MLS Technology Holdings owns or will own would be able to participate, Hammett said, “REACH Labs is an entirely separate initiative from ABoR’s involvement in MLS Technology Holdings, LLC, or our co-ownership of Remine.
“While REACH Labs is geared toward tech startups, any company with solutions related to the real estate industry can apply to participate in a REACH Labs Innovation Showcase at www.ABoR.com/REACHLabs.”