A new Minnesota startup called BuyerCurious (product of DealCurious) has officially launched this week with intentions of connecting home buyers and sellers directly over the web.
“This is the first fully automated platform for buyers and sellers to contact and negotiate with one another over residential real estate,” says president and founder Jim Lesinski.
Hard to believe that this is an original idea (or that there aren’t other comparable services in development/beta as I type), but a quick glance at the obvious players (Zillow, Redfin, Trulia) says that BuyerCurious’ positioning is differentiated from the name brands.
And someone is buying what he’s selling, considering that the venture raised “in the realm of” $1.4m while in stealth mode, with little adoption — something Lesinski expects will follow as the advertising campaign ramps up.
Although the real estate industry is in the dumps, there’s still 5.5m annual transactions nationwide according to Lesinski. This is a consumer play that’s heavily contingent upon brand awareness through strong marketing and communications strategies. Promo spots like this started airing on traditional TV channels yesterday:
The service is available in five states today — MN, KT, CT, WI, NM — for curious home buyers to start making offers on any home they see. It starts by with an address, followed-by some pre-qualification info, which sends an anonymous non-binding letter of intent to the homeowner via priority mail, text message, or email. Homes do not need to be registered on BuyerCurious.com, and they do not have to be currently for sale to receive offers.
Private contact information is only shared if and when an agreement in principle is reached. At any point in the BuyerCurious.com process, customers can invite friends, family, and other trusted advisors in developing terms. Potential buyers pay a flat fee of $59.99 to make an offer and Home sellers do not pay to view offers or to make counter-offers, but both parties pay a total of $300 each if a final agreement in principle is reached.
Once agreement on key terms is reached, they gain access to a private online ‘Deal Room’. This virtual workspace is a place where buyers, sellers and agents can work together to assemble important legal documents necessary to effect the creation of a binding purchase agreement.
“Designed to be efficient, simple and secure,” Lesinski says, “We’re targeting a specific transaction area that hasn’t yet been touched by e-commerce. It’s one aspect of an industry that’s in need of re-invention.”