For many homebuyers, websites like Zillow or Trulia may be their first stop when starting the search for a home. When finding a home they like, they may click the “Contact Agent” button and submit their contact information with the goal to directly contact the listing agent. However, real estate search websites are selling that contact information (and other user information) and creating leads that many other agents and third parties pay for.
Zillow, which owns Trulia, HotPads and other brands, states that it is “using your information to provide value for you,” however, it may also generate unwanted calls and emails from agents and others whom users may not have wanted to contact in the first place.
This is the reason why Wilmington-based Reignlist launched a new platform last month that aims to deliver solutions to problems it found in other real estate listing sources, said Patrick Brown, co-founder and chief operating officer with the startup.
With Reignlist, when a homebuyer selects to contact the agent, they will be directly interacting with the listing agent and are not required to provide phone numbers or email addresses. An agent is only able to see their first name and last name initial.
“The communication is only being done on our platform. Now, if you decide that you want to pursue it and move forward, you can release your contact information to whomever you want,” Brown said. “But the idea here is to safeguard their private contact information because we’re living in a world with robocalls … so we’re really trying to be part of that solution where we’re not just existing to capture information.”
In addition to serving homebuyers, Reignlist also helps agents by ensuring that they are the only ones to receive the connections of those interested in their listings, Brown said.
“What Reignlist is doing is if it’s your listing, we’re creating a 24/7 virtual open house on your listing,” he said. “If you get a hit on your property, we’re not going to sell that to anybody else. You own that outright. And that’s very different because it’s a ‘your listing, your lead’ type of mentality. And that’s marketing really well to our agents because that is a huge problem.”
Another feature of Reignlist that seeks to help both buyers and agents is “Real Estate Request” where users can submit information on what they are looking for with the knowledge that it will be provided to an agent or broker and with the intent of being contacted.
“This would create two leads that can be purchased by a real estate agent and by a mortgage loan officer. This is a buyer’s lead that was created by a customer that wants to be contacted by somebody,” Brown said.
Professionals can purchase these leads a la carte style, and Reignlist allows up to three professionals to have a shot at a request, he added.
In addition, Reignlist also seeks to be a comprehensive platform for the real estate industry. The website has several other features including Reign Pro, for reviewing and contacting professionals such as plumbers, electricians, landscapers and more.
Reignboard is similar to Pinterest where users and professionals can share photos of home remodeling projects or ideas.
Mortgage Pro is for loan officers and brokers.
“The idea is that for everything on the local level there’s partnerships. There are agents that work well with [certain] mortgage loan officers, as well as inspectors and home insurance. We’re not going to sell ad space to other mortgage loan officers that you don’t know that you might not have a working relationship with, we’re going to go ahead and showcase the relationships that you already have established.”
Currently, Reignlist is starting in the North Carolina market with home listings in Wilmington, Raleigh, Wake Forest and others.
The startup is made up of seven employees, working remotely and officially launched its platform in June.
The company was co-founded by CEO Anthony Brown (Patrick Brown’s father) who has 40 years’ experience in real estate and wanted to address issues that real estate agents have been experiencing.
The young company hopes to reach certain milestones, including capturing at least 2.5% market share of all agents in North Carolina that would help with its monthly recurring revenue and eventually get institutional capital to scale to bigger markets.
“We want to be a technology that helps improve the way that agents get in touch with the customers, improves the way that they handle their listings and drive a more transparent process in the beginning,” Patrick Brown said.