With Pinterest as Model, RealSavvy Builds Real Estate App For Agents

Apps and web tools for the real estate market abound, from basic ones like Trulia or Zillow mortgage calculators to tools that help buyers find more details about the home they may purchase.

An Austin, TX-based company called RealSavvy is building a mobile tool that targets real estate agents rather than buyers, attempting to help the agents better stay in touch with and track the work they do for potential homeowners. RealSavvy works as hub for the agent and buyers to communicate that’s similar to Pinterest, letting buyers search any variety of home browsing site—such as Zillow or Realtor.com—and then “pin” a home listing they like back to a personalized board on the RealSavvy app.

“Even if you prefer to search on Zillow, you can pin it to a centralized place for the agent and co-buyer to be connected,” says co-founder and CEO Rick Orr, who has worked part-time as an agent for almost two decades in Austin. “Our goal down the line is to help agents and clients stay connected through the seven-year purchase cycle (the average time in the U.S. between purchases by a buyer).”

He says RealSavvy is an organization tool for agents on multiple levels. The app helps track each customer’s preferences, based on the pins they make. It also allows the agent to keep a timeline of each customer, and could indicate the appropriate time to contact a home owner that may be ready to purchase a second property, for example, or a previous customer that may be ready to sell.

The app’s tools also help the agent and buyer connect with other services that they may need, such as lenders or inspectors, who can also be invited to collaborate on the user’s Pinterest-style board, Orr says. That information is beneficial to track in case the owner sells the property again, he says.

RealSavvy is updated frequently with data from the Multiple Listing Service, which means the app can also verify that a listing—maybe one on a real estate website without a direct feed from the MLS—is actually real and still on the market, Orr says.

Agents get the service for free for their first 10 clients, and then RealSavvy charges the agent $20 per month for 11 or more clients. For agents, the direct line with customers helps prevent the risk of losing them as customers, Orr says.

While Orr’s company is still in early stages, he says he has 500 agents using the platform, and has collected four million listings in various large cities around the U.S.

The company is currently in the process of closing its initial $1 million angel round, which he says should happen by January. Early in 2016, RealSavvy will go for a seed round.

Orr plans to soon offer additional services, such as tracking documentation on services performed on the home, helping connect home buyers with exterminators or other necessary home services, and unique search options, such as by the style of a home—something that has been historically difficult to do, he says. RealSavvy is also developing services to help homebuyers contest property tax valuations, if a buyer thinks they may be able to lower their tax based on using a different valuation than their local county did.

If Orr’s experience speaks to anything, he shouldn’t have trouble raising money. In 2009, he co-founded TabbedOut, a mobile payment app that lets customers split, tip, and pay restaurant or bar tabs. The company has since raised more than $39 million and Orr is still involved as a director. Tabbed out received a $21.5 million round in June from Wellington Management and existing investors NEA and Morgan Creek Capital, according to a press release.

TabbedOut tracks what its users are buying—perhaps a certain type of whiskey or beer at a bar—and offers to buy them a different type for free when they close their bar tab using TabbedOut. The company tracks whether that free drink impacts the type of product the person buys in the future—anonymously, TabbedOut says—and sells the data to the makers of those products as consumer behavior insights, Orr says.

Orr expects to expand to new markets in 2016 with RealSavvy—Austin has been the primary test market, though RealSavvy has listings from and he will also test out selling the RealSavvy tool as a licensed software service to brokerages.

“Our model is to foster that ecosystem and bolster the agents to make them more successful, rather than disintermediate them, which has been the more typical disruption practice in the space,” Orr says. “Our whole mission is to not give agents just a widget, but an entire platform to keep agents connected to their clients over the seven-year cycle, to help alleviate the risk of losing their representation.”

David Holley is Xconomy's national correspondent based in Austin, TX. You can reach him at [email protected] Follow @xconholley

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