A new real estate start-up could completely flip the switch on traditional brokerages in Dallas.

A new real estate start-up could completely flip the switch on traditional brokerages in Dallas. Prevu has announced the closing of its $2 million seed funding for a customer-focused digital home-buying platform. It promises to “deliver industry-leading efficiency and savings,” according to Matthew Chudoba, a publicist with ICR, Prevu’s outside public relations counsel promoting the company’s launch out of Norwalk, Conn.

“We were incredibly frustrated by our own experiences in buying real estate, and we sought to create a truly intuitive model that gives control back to consumers and eliminates a lot of the stress involved,” said Thomas Kutzman, co-founder of Prevu. “Our Smart Buyer platform was created to address these inefficiencies and provide greater control to buyers while delivering rebates that help to offset the significant expenses involved in purchasing a home.”

Prevu passes two-thirds of its commission back to each buyer who completes a purchase using Smart Buyer, which brings with it a rebate of up to 2 percent. Customers who purchased a home using Prevu receive average rebates of $23,000. The aim? To make commissions more transparent, signifying a 180-degree turn from the traditional brokerage model. Agents are already tasked with creating more and more value for buyers and sellers as disruption in the real estate industry becomes the norm. What next?

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It’s Realtor Safety month, so tell me if this story sounds somewhat familiar. An agent is hosting an open house and is pretty much by themselves save for a few people coming in and out, maybe one or two at a time. However, one attendee seems to move slowly through the home, almost as if they are waiting for others to leave. The agent begins to feel uncomfortable with the situation.

That’s about how things were unfolding when a Tinley Park, Illinois, real estate agent came across Stanley Keller, 50, an ex-con. Keller was the only visitor at the agent’s open house, according to the National Association of Realtors.

[Keller] asked to see the upstairs bedrooms, the basement, and garage, according to a police report. The agent told police that during the home tour, she felt her body begin to vibrate, and her speech started to slur. When she turned around, Keller had his arm extended toward her with the stun gun in his hand, she said.

Unfortunately, attacks like this one aren’t new territory for real estate agents or even clients for that matter. According to the recent 2019 Realtor Safety Report from NAR, 33 percent of Realtors experienced a situation that made them fear for their personal safety. The typical Realtor reported feeling unsafe less than once a year (54 percent) in terms of personal safety, but unsafe in terms of personal information every few months or more often (61 percent).

In 2006, McKinney real estate agent Sarah Walker was brutally assaulted and murdered in a model home. Walker was alone at the time. In 2017, Crystal McDowell, a Houston-area real estate agent, went missing during Hurricane Harvey. She was alone when her ex-husband allegedly killed her. The list goes on, and in an industry that focuses on service above all else, safety precautions have been slow to establish.

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Matt Templeton of Keller Williams Urban Dallas regularly educates Realtors on how to make the most of the current market. (Courtesy Photo)

By Matthew Templeton
Managing Principal
KW Urban Dallas

It feels like there have been fundamental shifts in the real estate industry within the last few months. Technology is the buzz word, money is being thrown around, and CEOs of just about every top real estate-related company are out. The last few weeks’ news sums up that feeling.

September 2018: Compass closes another funding round for $400 million — money used to build more software and buy more agents.

And then …

February: Rich Barton (billionaire co-founder of Expedia and Zillow) takes the reins from Spencer Rascoff, who was CEO at Zillow for nine years.

February: Keller Williams rolls out the first artificial intelligence and data-driven platform in the real estate industry — others have been clamoring to follow

February: RE/MAX says [sic] “Our amazing technology is coming, and it will be best in class,” and makes a technology acquisition, Booj.

Last Week: Data-driven Opendoor will now show listings from rival brokerages and offer Redfin-like rebates.

Last Week: NTREIS Board holds a vote on whether to sell greater data access to Zillow. April will be a reckoning month for North Texas Realtors and their data.

We’ve moved into a new real estate era that is faster paced and increasingly powered by technology and data — more than ever before. But there’s something else afoot. It’s eerily similar to what happened with the dot-com bust. Real estate technology companies are flush with capital — in fact, 2018 was a banner year for real estate technology investment.

And yet many of the top “technology” or “platform” companies in the industry are not profitable.

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