RealScout, a new real estate technology company based in Sunnyvale, announced today that it has raised $1.1 million in seed financing from DCM’s mobile‐focused A‐Fund, as well as Formation 8 and angel investors like long-time realtor, Ken DeLeon. With its new funding, RealScout wants to continue expanding its listings search engine, which the team designed to stand out from the crowd in real estate search by focusing on granularity and serving more refined (and detailed) results.
RealScout is the latest in a growing list of startups operating on the premise that the tools we use to search for local real estate are outdated and broken. As such, companies like Redfin, Zillow and Trulia, for example, have found success by focusing on improving consumer experience, bringing simpler, user-friendly tools to the opaque and confusing world of real estate search.
However, while this shift in focus to the end-user has been a boon for the space, improving the consumer experience by leaps and bounds (and minting a few IPOs in the process), RealScout CEO Andrew Flachner believes the change has come at cost, which few are talking about.
Flachner tells us that he sees real estate agents getting the short end of the stick and are being left behind. Generally speaking, agents are still using outdated search and client management tools — ones that tend to confound their clients, who turn to national portals as a result, where quickly get disconnected from agents and lured away by competitors. The co-founders launched RealScout last year to address this imbalance and put realtors back in the driver’s seat — both by making the search process itself more collaborative and by offering them better tools to engage clients and find new business.
With most real estate search tools today, the priority is on casting the widest net possible — on quantity and not necessarily on quality or refining the criteria they use to serve more interesting matches. Today, RealScout offers potential buyers the ability to use specific parameters to refine their search for local listings, allowing them to search by floor plans, type of floors, the amount of natural light and some 500 other specific home features.
Naturally, Flachner and company believe that by expanding their data set to include 500 unique characteristics and data points on active home listings, they can make it easier for clients and realtors to discover potentially deal-breaking (or making) features like a giant backyard or proximity to public transportation.
Of course, while improving indexing and metadata is important, that isn’t something that’s totally out of the technical capacity of some of the bigger names in this space. RealScout realizes that if it’s going to steal you away from Trulia (and others), which offer advanced search tools (even if not 500 unique data points), it can ramp up the value of its tools by going after realtors.
In other words, RealScout essentially wants to marry Zillow’s feel to the more powerful B2B, CRM and engagement tools of a company like Salesforce. Both through its web and mobile platforms, the startup allows realtors to collaborate with their clients during the search, while tapping into natural language-based email marketing software and lightweight CRM tools.
Agents can set up automated natural language email alerts and highlight new listings for clients that are actually customized to fit their preferences. And, on the CRM front, the platform aims to offer better visibility into what their clients are searching for, while keeping tabs on engagement, their interactions with customers and identifying leads.
A lot of product development in the tech industry today, especially in software, seems bent on automation in some way or another. While much of this will help reduce costs and improve margins, the RealScout co-founders are eager to build software that helps people do their jobs better and get a more robust understanding their clients, not just offer shortcuts or take them out of the equation completely. And to that end, it’s not about disintermediation either, but creating more value by improving the dynamic between agents and their clients — and not just in a creepy way.
The startup is now servicing real estate agents in the Bay Area and plans to use its new financing to expand further both within California and throughout the U.S.
For more, find RealScout at home here.