When you’re looking to find a real estate agent to either buy or sell a property, there are lots of places to find them. But for many, that process can be a little strenuous and stressful when tracking down a reliable professional.
Which is exactly why the folks at Zubii think they have a perfect solution. The Seattle startup, which launches in beta on Thursday, is an online resource for home buyers and sellers looking for an agent. Zubii features verified testimonials from customers who have closed transactions with a particular agent and an assortment of quantitative and qualitative data that all contribute to an agent’s ranking within Zubii’s website.
The company’s main selling point is the fact that it simplifies the process of finding that perfect agent who has expertise in specific neighborhoods.
“Zubii is a place for reviews to be generated by real people, not advertising budgets,” said Keith Akada, Zubii’s Chief Visionary Officer. “What Zubii has created is a place where all information is vetted, verified, based on consumer reviews.”
Founders Akada, Jason Ramos and Steven Fujita previously started Mortgage Reel, a real estate lending company. After seeing several clients unhappy with their real estate agents, they realized a problem.
“We asked them how they found and decided on their agent, and the answer was never the same,” Akada said. “We recognized the need for consumers to find real estate agents online — it’s how we make decisions. We go off of what our peers recommend.”
As the founders worked on Mortage Reel, they also quickly began to realize the power of testimonials and ratings from consumers who had worked with them and were happy. They took that insight and paired it with finding real estate agents.
“Consumers are online looking for professionals, just like they look for hotels, pediatricians and/or veterinarians,” Akada said. “They make decisions based on reviews from other consumers. This does not exist — until now.”
Zubii makes money primarily via a $600 annual fee paid by real estate agents to have their profile on the website. Plans are in the works to have a virtual assistant provided for an additional cost to support agents with the initial set up of Zubii profiles and for monthly maintenance of testimonials and current data such as listing and buyer transactions that have closed.
The company is also launching a coaching program for the agents to assist them with their online reputation and social business. The hope is for Zubii to grow across the country as a trusted site to find real estate agents.
“In five years, we hope Zubii is a household name like LinkedIn, trusted by the market as the leader in searching for vetted real estate professionals,” Akada said. “Our goal is that Zubii will set a new standard — it will be a one-stop-shop to find and connect with recognized, trusted, vetted professionals that are known for their professionalism and service. We want to eliminate the ‘pay-to-play’ model in real estate.”
It will be interesting to see how much traction the company picks up in a very crowded online real estate space, specifically in Seattle with big players like Zillow, Redfin, Estately and Market Leader already doing business.
The company is looking to looking to complete a $400,000 seed round from friends and family.