DropOffer wants real estate agents to exit the market
The housing market inventory is low right now. Historically low. According to National Association of Real Estate Agents Sales of existing homes report in August, inventories were down 13.4% from the previous year. Low inventory means less choice for home buyers, but for years enterprising real estate agents have worked under tight market conditions looking for off-market homes that meet their clients’ specifications. DropOffer, a new home search platform launched Friday, aims to streamline this process.
The new platform is the idea of co-founders Greg Burns and Kimani Clark. Burns is a luxury real estate agent in Maui, Hawaii and Clark is a patent and intellectual property lawyer in the Washington DC area.
Their goal, as Burns and Clark put it, is to “turn on the off-market” through their app, which aggregates public record data on homes across the country, providing information on lot size, square footage, and more. square feet and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. easily accessible to building permit holders. Agents and brokers can then search the database for homes that match their clients’ specifications. Once they have found suitable options, they can then send the homes to their clients for review. If the customer likes the home and accepts the price of the offer suggested by their agent, then they can click on the “DropOffer” button and send an offer to the home owner for review and review.
“I realized that there is always a limited supply of homes and I realized when I was an agent that one way to stay relevant with my clients was to increase that supply of inventory and provide them with things they didn’t necessarily know, ”Brûle said. “As an agent, I would go to great lengths to increase my clients’ inventory. The time it took was really tough and I just knew there had to be a better way. There’s a lot of data and technology out there already, and I knew if I could consolidate that data, then we would have something that an agent can really use to create that inventory for their clients.
By consolidating data in one place, a task that Burns said took hours, if not days, now only takes a few minutes.
“My current process starts with narrowing down the area – it’s usually a neighborhood,” Provo, Utah-based Becca Summers. Keller williams the agent said. “We then send out postcards and letters to let the owners of that neighborhood know that we have a buyer interested in their specific area. It can be quite a long process ”
Summers also uses Remine, an online platform which allows agents to research detailed real estate data across the entire US housing stock, to help sift through all of the potential homes in their client’s target neighborhood.
Historically, investors looking for distressed properties to flip and celebrities looking to keep a low profile on a move have been known to look for off-market properties. Summers usually ends up looking for off-market properties when clients have very specific needs in a certain neighborhood, but this spring when the housing market in Provo took off, she worked with many clients to research off-market options so that they could to stay out of fierce bidding wars.
While Clark acknowledges that these are the typical circumstances of finding non-market properties, he points out that DropOffer is for any buyer and any property under all circumstances.
“You can send an offer to any off-market property,” Clark said. “So even if you like it, it doesn’t have to be a distressed property or a luxury home, you can bid. “
Once a buyer submits an offer for an off-market home through DropOffer, a personalized postcard with a photo of the home and a QR code link to the offer details will be sent to the owner. If this tactic doesn’t work, the postcard will be followed by a similarly personalized email and targeted online advertising.
“Every house has a number where the owner would move,” Burns said. “We like to say the answer is always no unless you ask.”
Agents who have been successful in helping clients buy off-market properties, like Summers, have achieved their greatest triumphs by infusing these deals with a personal touch.
“The best answer I get is when I’m physically there, but I’ve actually helped customers buy and complete transactions through postcards and letters,” Summers said. . “A lot of people see it as spam, but you only need one house, so if you’re mailing 50 people, there’s still a chance. I have also had great success with handwritten letters. Our mailboxes have really turned into a kind of junk mail folder, so anything you can do to help your mail stand out is making a huge difference.
While the lack of personal contact was somewhat of a concern for Burns and Clark, they were more interested in whether or not to use DropOffer to make buying off-market homes more equitable.
“You have to be really careful these days with these ‘love letters’,” Burns said. “Oregon has made them illegal. This is a very serious thing when it comes to fair housing laws. If you start to present letters that maybe reveal too much about a potential buyer, then you are not letting the numbers speak.
“At the end of the day, it’s the dollars that really matter to the seller,” Clark added. “The problem with Oregon law is that although it is well intentioned, the ‘love letter’ process opens up the possibility of discrimination.”
For many homeowners, getting a targeted postcard or web ad while scrolling through social media with a photo of their house on it can seem a little overwhelming. Maybe even scary.
“Creepy is a buzzword and I love to hear it because it really means we’re pushing the boundaries and being innovative,” Burns said. “You have to remember that what was scary once has become common now – like getting into a stranger’s car at midnight, now we call it Uber.”
While the tactics Summers uses aren’t always as straightforward as those used by DropOffer, she has yet to meet a homeowner who is angry or finds it odd that someone wants to buy their particular home.
However, if a homeowner feels annoyed with the number of offers coming in on their home, they can always remove their home from the DropOffer database. Burns and Clark currently believe their platform is better suited to the mid to high end of the market, but they believe that DropOffer will be of benefit to agents, homeowners and homebuyers regardless of their budget or business. state of their property.
So far, the startup has raised nearly $ 700,000 from a variety of undisclosed “seasoned real estate and tech investors” and they are currently considering investors for their $ 3 million “pre-seed” fundraiser. dollars. Currently, DropOffer collects revenue by charging agents and brokers a monthly subscription fee to access the app.
“As we roll out more services and have an appropriate license, we will collect a referral fee from our agents when transactions are successfully completed,” they said.
For Clark and Burns, launching DropOffer is just the start of what they hope to create.
“To further legitimize offers made through the app, our intention is to partner with one of the top lenders and have a prequalification API built into our app,” Burns said. “We’re definitely not that sign at the end of the turnoff that says, ‘We buy ugly houses.’ We are not an iBuyer, we have real home buyers bidding on your property.