So, your realtor has found you your new home. Now the real fun begins. You may need a contractor. Child care. Window guards. Carpet installation. Interior designer. The list goes on. Truth be told, no one refers more clients to other businesses than real estate agents. Period.
But when it comes to referral fees, they’re left out of the loop. Actually, there was no loop, until founder Arnon Rosan created one, with Realty Maven.
Realty Maven is a platform that makes it easy for realtors to keep lists of their favorite vendors – and track referrals and commissions. It’s a win-win for everyone: realtors are able to offer insider deals and specials to their clients, trusted vendors get referrals, and not only are new homeowners able to take advantage of these deals: they can now have access to those designers and contractors who might not have scheduled a meeting or consultation without a personal referral.
Another big pain point (or several) resolved and serial entrepreneur Rosan tells us more about how it all works beautifully for all parties.
Tell us about the service.
RealtyMaven is a website and mobile app that facilitates the referral of clients by real estate agents to local home product and service businesses. Real estate agents are the first people who a tenant consults when moving into a new neighborhood or purchasing or renting a new apartment or home, and they regularly refer trusted vendors. From contractors to carpet installers, kitchen cabinet installers to child care, new buyers and renters rely on their real estate agent for recommendation on where to shop and what to do in their neighborhood.
With RealtyMaven, agents can maintain a list of their most favored vendors, and have access to insider deals and special offers from merchants whom they can share with their clients.
When a successful referral takes place, the client receives a trusted recommendation and special offer, the business grows, and the real estate agent earns a referral commission.
How is it different?
RealtyMaven makes it easy for real estate agents to generate and transmit trackable referrals that include information about the merchant, as well as an offeror freebie that benefits their clients.
Additionally, real estate agents can maintain lists of their favorite vendors and review their referral activity and commissions right on their app.Payments for successful referrals are seamlessly facilitated between businesses and agents.
RealtyMaven takes a common offline activity and brings it into the app age so that everyone benefits – clients, agents, and business.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
RealtyMaven is attacking the enormous real estate industry in New York City and, ultimately, in the entire Unites States. There are over 26,000 real estate agents in New York City alone, and over 1,000,000 in the United States as a whole.
Renovations in the United States is a $500billion a year business, and statistics from the National Association of Realtors indicate that 53% of home buyers embark on a renovation project within three months of their purchase.
We believe that the market for real estate agent referrals to home product and service businesses in the United States represents over $25 billion in businesses annually.
What is the business model?
RealtyMaven earns money by taking a percentage of the commissions paid by businesses to real estate agents for successful referrals.
It is free for businesses to sign up, create a profile, and post incentivizing offers. A business pays a commission to the agent when a successful referral takes place, and RealtyMaven takes 30% of this commission.
Real estate agents can sign up for free, share referrals, and track their referral activity. When a successful referral commission is paid by the business, Realty Maven takes its commission out of that fee.
We align our interests with the three stakeholders in the process – the business, the real estate agent, and their clients and we grow when they benefit. I believe that is always the best business model.
What inspired the app?
As a homeowner, I remember discussing renovation options with my real estate agent. I also have real estate agent friends who were telling me about all the referral programs that businesses in NYC have, whereby they earn money by referring clients.
It became clear that while compensating for referrals was common, the whole referral business was completely fragmented. There was no effective way to simplify the process of handing off a referral, or a centralize place to tracked them.
Businesses had no easy way to pay referral commissions or to understand where their referral were coming from, and this resulted in a lot of frustration on the part of real estate agents.
Finally, there was no centralized place for agents to maintain a list of their favorite businesses – one they could access at the touch of a button – without distracting them from their primary responsibility, which is to sell homes.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
We hope to sign up 150-200 active real estate agents in the New York area, as well as 100-150 corresponding businesses for them to refer. We have already begun the process of reaching out to NYC-based real estate agents and have had good feedback and interest. We are now starting to reach out to businesses, to show them why its risk-free to be on our platform.
Our goal over the coming months is to raise additional investment from institutional VCs that will enable us to scale our business in New York, reach additional real estate agents and businesses.and begin the process of rolling the platform out in additional geographic regions.
If you could be put in touch with one investor in the New York community who would it be and why?
I think if I could be put in touch with one investor in the New York community it would be David Tisch from BoxGroup. He and David Rothenburg have both shown a strong interest in and understanding of real estate tech and are New Yorkers who have deep knowledge of both New York real estate and the tech scene here in the City.
You’ve already raised $1.5M for this business. Give us some pointers on the fundraising process for our audience that is looking to raise.
Fundraising is not an easy process. It is distracting and takes up a tremendous amount of your time. Unfortunately, this is the very time that can be used to find product-market fit, so it’s a real trade off.
Because of this, its important to raise enough money to give yourself enough runway until the next inflection point, where you will need to raise additional funds or are generating enough cash flow to fund your own growth.
Why did you launch in New York?
New York has an incredibly large and active real estate market, one that has remained durable through good and bad times. Furthermore, there are already large organized groups of real estate agents in NYC, and the top 20 real estate brokerage firms represent nearly 1/3 of all brokers in the City. This makes it somewhat easier to find the agents and to reach out.
Finally, I am a born and raised New Yorker, so I couldn’t imagine starting a business anyplace else.
Where’s the best place to get a deal in NYC?
That’s a great question and if I answered it, I would be letting you in on the insider deals that real estate agents have to offer their clients, and I am sure I would get some heat because of it.
On a serious note, the best deals to me are not necessarily monetary or discount based. I prefer the deals that help one get an in-person home visit by a designer, architect, contractor or other vendor. In New York, the best resources and businesses are quite busy and sometimes don’t give you the time of day, without a personal referral.
These best of class contractors often won’t schedule in-person meetings without a referral from someone they trust, and that’s where a RealtyMaven referral comes in.