Seattle real estate startup Estately has received an undisclosed investment from Realogy, the giant real estate conglomerate that operates brands such as Century 21, Coldwell Banker, ERA and Sotheby’s International, GeekWire has learned.
Estately co-founder Galen Ward confirmed the news today, telling GeekWire that the business continues to operate as an independent company even though some existing investors were cashed out.
“They have been wonderful to work with,” Ward said of Realogy. “They want us to be successful as a standalone company.”
Ward declined to say how much Realogy invested or disclose the percentage ownership that was given up as part of the transaction, which closed earlier this year but until now was unreported.
“Estately is a very fun business for me to run, and I am enjoying it,” said Ward, when asked whether the company would consider selling outright to Realogy
Officials at Realogy did not respond to calls or emails asking for comment.
Corporate records indicate that Estately’s board is now comprised of five directors, including Ryan Gorman, Dan Barnett and Kevin Greene. All three work in various roles of NRT, a subsidiary of Realogy.
Ward, who also sits on the board along with Estately co-founder Doug Cole, said that Gorman, Barnett and Greene were added to the board earlier this year.
In addition to Coldwell Banker and Sotheby’s, NRT operates ZipRealty, which was acquired in 2014 for $166 million. NRT employs 4,900 people, with closed residential real estate sales volume last year of $157 billion.
Estately operates a highly-regarded real estate search site and application, but unlike services such as ZipRealty or Redfin, it does not employ agents directly.
Estately, which operates as a brokerage in more than 35 states, makes money by passing leads on to preferred real estate agents. The 26-person company has about 900 agents in its network, and that number continues to grow.
As one of the largest residential real estate companies in the U.S., Realogy has thousands of agents which could benefit from receiving targeted leads from Estately.
Ward said they already provide leads to some Realogy agents, but very little would change as part of the investment. He said he kept the investment quiet because raising more money “is not that interesting” but also because he didn’t want the company’s agent network to think that things would change due to the involvement of Realogy.
In today’s interview, Ward said that “we love our business model and love our clients,” and he added that Estately is “doing a good job” of competing against large real estate incumbents as well as tech-heavy brands like Zillow and Trulia.
“We are excited about our growth,” he said. “And we see potential in our business model and agent model.”
The 9-year-old real estate search startup also has built a cutting-edge mobile app, and as more home buyers turn to mobile devices to interact with agents or search for homes, it’s technology could prove useful to a company that Realogy.
Estately previously raised about $1.25 million from angel investors such as Geoff Entress, Founder’s Co-op, 500 Startups, Naval Ravikant and others, according to Crunchbase. In 2013, Recruit Holdings of Tokyo purchased Movoto, a 63-person Silicon Valley company whose business model was similar to Estately.
Ward appeared on the GeekWire radio show last year, talking about the changing landscape of the online real estate market and how Estately fits in.
“We are not actively employing agents in a traditional way. We are kind of a virtual brokerage is how I like to think of us,” Ward explained when asked about how the service differs from Redfin. “We are really focused on that front to end experience, from looking at a home online to actually buying a home.”