At realtor.com, the consumer is our North Star. Our goal is to make buying, selling, and living in homes more rewarding for everyone. We recently celebrated a milestone in that journey — the one-year anniversary of Opcity becoming a part of realtor.com.
When I started Opcity in 2015 with my co-founder, Michael Lam, our goal was straightforward: improve the home-buying experience for consumers. We saw how complex and painful buying and selling a home could be, and set out to use technology and machine learning to simplify the process. The average consumer talks with 10 to 40 vendors through the home-buying process, and it can be scary and disjointed.
We also knew that there are some real pain points when it comes to buying and selling a home. Everything from fear of missing out on the right home to a fear of screwing up to uncertainty about how to navigate the process from start to finish can be challenging. And of course, coupled with the fact that buying a home for most people is one of the largest purchases they will ever make, buying a home can be intimidating.
Much like ride-sharing apps have transformed transportation and the taxi industry, we hoped to make buying a home a more pleasurable journey. Although most people start their home search online and often inquire about homes they want to learn more about, many inquiries go unanswered. Realtor.com became one of our biggest sources of online inquiries.
Through our proprietary matching algorithm, we were connecting home shoppers and home sellers to the right real estate professional for them and it grew into a great partnership. As we continued working together, it made sense to join realtor.com as one company to take the consumer experience to the next level.
Before we combined with realtor.com, we did not have access to consumer search history and behavior, or the ability to test different consumer experiences on the site. Together, we can create a more customized and improved home-buying process. Over the past year, we have been hyper-focused on improving the entire home-buying journey. In a select number of markets throughout the country, such as Chicago, we offer our concierge service that allows us to stay in touch with home buyers throughout their home journey.
In these markets, we’ve also introduced features like online scheduling and cash rewards. With Schedule a tour, a home shopper is able to simply tap on the “Schedule a tour” button on a listing page and then get directly connected with an agent to see a home. Our Buyer Cash Reward program offers a cash reward for buying a home with an agent you find through realtor.com.
Our new connected experience allows home shoppers to communicate with their real estate agent at any time directly from the realtor.com app. This two-way communication platform makes it easy to send information on properties, ask questions, and schedule home tours and meetings.
The best thing is people really like the experience, and it’s stories like the Stephens family’s home-buying journey that bring our efforts over the last year full circle. They were looking to buy a new home in Austin, Texas, for their growing family. We matched them with Machelle Ralls, an agent with vast experience in the Austin area. They hit it off and Machelle was able to help the Stephens sell their old home and purchase a new one that was a great fit.
What excites me the most is that we are just getting started. Being a part of realtor.com — where millions of people come each month to begin their home search — allows us to get closer to the consumer and ensure that they move confidently through the home-buying journey and ultimately find their perfect home. I am energized by our quick accomplishments, and am just as optimistic today as I was a year ago that we have what it takes to make home-buying a seamless, simple, and enjoyable experience for today’s consumers.