By Emily Hamann
The Bellingham Business Journal
It’s real estate, revolutionized. Zeppidy, Inc., a startup based in Portland, Oregon is hoping to use technology to transform the real estate industry.
This month Zeppidy plans to add the real estate data from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, which means its services will extend to most of Washington, including King, Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties.
Gary Schultz, founder and CEO of Zeppidy, said other industries have already gone through a tech revolution.
“What we see is consumers craving more transparency, more simplicity,” he said.
Sites like Zillow and Redfin are a good middle point, but Zeppidy is transformative, in that it guides buyers and sellers through the entire process, and gives them unprecedented transparency over the entire process.
“Our solution is a web platform where everyday people can be in the driver’s seat from search to closing,” Schultz said.
For potential buyers (or even just browsers) it starts with the home search. Users can search for properties in more than one area at once, and filter properties based on everything from price and number of bedrooms down to what appliances the home has.
Each listing includes information about the neighborhood, schools, nearby stores and restaurants, market trends, and even lets users estimate how long their commute would be.
For most users, that’s probably where it will end.
“People who are looking online today, 99 percent of that interest is just looking,” Schultz said.
However, when serious buyers are ready to take the next step, Zeppidy will guide them through it. Upon request, the platform will match a user up with a participating real estate agents. Once a buyer and an agent get connected, the buyer, and their spouse or other family members, and the agent set up an individual profile on the site, and collaborate together on different listings, sign up for open houses, and share notes.
When it’s time to make an offer, Zeppidy generates all the legal documents, and sends them the various parties to get filled out.
Real estate agents pay to subscribe to Zeppidy (they also pay Zeppidy 25 percent of their commission if a referral results in a sale), and they get all their software tools in one place.
Currently, Schultz said, real estate agents use piecemeal technology, and need to switch to a different program for each part of the buying or selling process.
With Zeppidy, everything is in the same place; they can see all their clients’ activity. If they have a listing through Zeppidy, they can see every action taken on the property, they can read feedback left by potential buyers who have viewed the property, and the program even generates flyers.
Agents can send clients to look for homes on Zeppidy without sending them to a competing company. Zillow is full of ads for other agents; Redfin is its own brokerage.
“Agents have a place where they can collaborate with them that’s neutral ground,” Schultz said.
If a seller wants to go it alone without a listing agent (a tempting choice in the current seller’s market) they can pay Zeppidy a flat $599 fee. For their money, Zeppidy has partnered with a national real estate photography company, which will come out and take photos of the property, Zeppidy will walk seller’s through creating the listing, which it then posts, and send to the listing service. It can even generate a Craigslist ad.
It also offers advice and to-do lists on when to schedule inspections, etc.
Zeppidy launched a beta version of the site in Portland a few months ago.
“We were really well received here in Portland,” Schultz said. Many of the real estate agents who signed on have already signed up for a yearly subscription.
The site has been under development for more than three years. The company has eight employees.
Schultz has spent his career on the business side of tech. He got inspiration for Zeppidy when he was going through the home buying process himself.
“When I went through the process, it was very inefficient for me to have access to the data I wanted,” he said. He realized the inefficient system was adding hassle and expense to the process.
“There’s not a level of transparency and understanding,” for buyers, he said. He dreamed of building a platform to transform real estate the way sectors like travel and finance have already been disrupted.
Once upon a time, vacation plans were booked through travel agencies. Now there’s Expedia. Sites like E-Trade let people be more hands-on with their investments.
It’s time for those same type of tools, which gives users access to more information, and more control, to be available for those buying and selling a home, Schultz said.