The American Dream has traditionally been rooted in homeownership and for most, real estate represents the most highly-valued asset. Yet not much attention has been dedicated to helping homeowners maximize the value of these assets. Realm is a real estate startup that analyzes thousands of data points, many disparate and not readily accessible, to evaluate the potential value of a property through its centralized destination for data-driven homeownership insight. The platform is free to use and additional in-depth reports can be purchased for $99. Presently, Realm covers 63M single-family homes nationwide. The pandemic has reshaped how we view our homes and Realm makes sure that you are maximizing this investment today and for the future.
AlleyWatch caught up with CEO and Founder Liz Young to learn more about the need for consumer data applications in the real estate space, building a data-intensive business without a tech cofounder, the company’s recent funding round, and much, much more including some pandemic friendly outdoor dining recommendations.
How much did you raise and who were your investors?
Realm is the first property potential platform, helping homeowners get more value out of their single biggest asset – their home. We provide a central hub of unbiased advice to help homeowners navigate the regulatory, physical, and financial aspects of home investments.
How is it different?
Most of the real estate data innovation over the last few years has been focused on making real estate transactions more efficient or making professionals’ lives easier. We are 100% focused on helping the homeowner make smart decisions. We also aren’t scared to work with challenging data sets, like local regulations- this lets us provide more comprehensive recommendations.
What market does Realm target and how big is it?
Single-family homeowners in America, ~85m homes
What is the business model?
We offer many insights for free, but homeowners can pay $99 for a deeper analysis.
What inspired the start of Realm?
I was working in commercial real estate tech, and I kept thinking about how crazy it was that homeowners didn’t have access to similar data, even though their homes are their single biggest asset. As I started to personally invest in real estate, it became clear that the information homeowners needed to make smarter home investments was hard to access, either in paper documents at local government offices or in the heads of biased experts.
How has COVID-19 impacted the business?
While COVID-19 has presented every business with challenges (I’ve never even met some of our teammates and investors in person!), it’s had an overall positive impact on our business. COVID-19 has forever changed the way people interact with their homes, and what they expect to get out of them. Homes have had to become gyms, offices, childcare centers. Additionally, people have never spent more time in their homes. We’ve had a captive audience, hungry to learn about what’s possible with their biggest asset.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
We plan to cross 50,000 users, improve our data quality, and roll out more sophisticated insights: like stay or go analysis (should I buy a new home or stay in my current home).
What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?
Answer investors’ questions before they can ask them. I’m not an engineer…my whole career has been in sales, marketing, and biz dev. Before I kicked off our fundraise, I knew investors would question my ability to build a data-heavy tech business without a technical cofounder. I hired a part-time engineer to build an MVP, and paid them half in equity half in cash to save money. It covered 4,000,000 properties. It wasn’t pretty, but it worked. It showed I could ship product and work with large complex data sets. Out of the 20+ seed funds I talked to during the raise, many brought up initially being worried about me not having a technical cofounder, but that the MVP proved that wasn’t a problem.
If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?
Dottie Herman, CEO of Douglas Elliman. She’s the richest self-made woman in real estate and has years of knowledge I’d love to learn from. Also, I want her brokers to use our platform to educate their clients!
Why did you launch in New York?
First, I’ve been a New Yorker for over a decade, so I wasn’t going to start this business anywhere else. Second, we’re building a tool for consumers that is democratizing access to enterprise-quality real estate data. New York is the center of real estate in the US, the best talent and partners to build this business with are here.
What’s your favorite outdoor dining restaurant in NYC?
Warmest heaters = The Clam. Best vibe= Lafayette yurts.