It’s a difficult time for many companies vying to disrupt real estate: In the past week alone, three different companies with alternative-to-traditional brokerage models – HomeLight, Sundae and Orchard – announced layoffs.
However, at least one such company is touting near-term growth. Last week, HomeLister, a company based in Santa Monica, California, announced it raised $10 million in “series A” funding from financiers M13 and Homebrew.
The fund raise follows a year in which HomeLister said it represented the seller in about 3,800 deals in 2021, totaling $1.9 billion in home transactions. Lindsey McLean, Homelister’s CEO and founder, and a former real estate developer and software engineer, believes her company can withstand the current economic downturn.
“A lot of those affected companies just have very different models,” McLean said.
HomeLister’s model is a hybrid of the Multiple Listings Service-only brokerages that dominated the top of the RealTrends’ 1000 list – that is, brokerages whose main feature is having a licensed broker put the home on the MLS – and a remote brokerage.
Similar to ListWithFreedom.com or Homecoin.com, HomeLister has an escalating list of price packages similar to a car wash or gym membership. There’s a basic plan for home sellers at $600, a premium at $1,700 and a platinum package for $3,000. And the basic plan is similar to ListWithFreedom’s premium package, as it provides appointment scheduling through ShowingTime and the ability to conduct virtual tours.
As McLean noted, these flat fees can potentially save sellers thousands of dollars compared to a percentage commission.
But where HomerLister distinguishes itself is in its premium and platinum packages, which feature a “negotiator.” An offer is made on the house, and the seller brings back it to HomeLister, whose negotiator then decides whether it is a good deal, or if a counteroffer should be made.
“We let you know, ‘This is what we think of it, and this is what we’re seeing in relation to other homes in the area,’” McLean said.
In-house licensed real estate agents who work on multiple deals at once perform the negotiations. McLean said HomeLister is able to connect its customers to an in-house agent in about, “4 to 12 hours.”
The company presently operates in 17 states, with agents licensed for each state.
Time will tell if HomeLister succeeds in providing an alternative to real estate agents, hits stumbling blocks that have befallen other such companies in the past couple of weeks, or some combination thereof. McLean argued the company can fit in long-term with traditional agents and brokers.
“We are members of the National Association of Realtors and all our agents are too,” she said. “I think we are another alternative that fits in right next to them.”