New brokerage, NuHabitat in beta
Real estate and financial services veteran, Jeffrey Burke spent years at a legacy brokerage where after over a decade, he came to the personal realization that their value proposition had disintegrated and his desire to modernize and better serve consumers was falling on deaf ears. In response, Burke set out on his own to merge his tech background in the finance sector where he was known as a pioneer, and combined them with his years as an agent and launched the beta brokerage, NuHabitat.com.
The company says their mission is to give consumers better data, allow them to make a more informed decision and have a better shopping experience. Their pitch is that there is data consumers should have access to that only agents do, so he’s giving it to them. “Unlike other real estate brokerage sites that just use an HAR plug-in for search, NuHabitat was developed from the ground up. Using the latest in real estate technology we provide the most accurate and comprehensive search results updated every 10 minutes. NuHabitat data comes directly from the Houston Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and includes Days-on-Market, Historical Price Data, as well as, Sold Data.”
NuHabitat in pictures
We found Burke’s story of how his brokerage came to be extremely moving because it echoes the sentiment of the rise of the independent brokerage movement. Are his ideas unique? Overall, no, there are various brokers in the industry that are breaking the mold, but he is one to watch as Burke has the right story, the right motivation and didn’t just wake up some day and whine that he wanted a 100% split. If Burke can avoid swimming in the stream of self righteous egos and conference junkies, he has a chance at making a big difference in his market (and eventually other markets?) and is someone we’ll be watching closely.
He tells his story best on his blog:
“What is the motivation behind NuHabitat?
Once upon a time…I was involved in the financial industry. I made my mark by developing trading systems and platforms that provided individual investors with direct access to the financial exchanges. Individuals were able to buy and sell stocks directly from market makers like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley with a simple keystroke. More importantly, I provided individual traders (for the first time) all the data and information needed to make an educated decision on when to buy or sell a stock. Individuals were able to see all the information that previously had been withheld by the “old guard” in their effort to keep the playing field slanted in their favor. Block Trading is no longer…but we were considered pioneers of change. That felt good.
Throughout the decade of 2000, I was a high-end spec home builder. We all know how that ended. But most important was what I learned as the ship went down. I learned that the real estate industry was very broken. I learned that the real estate industry was incredibly inefficient and that most agents and brokers were working in an antiquated environment. I realized there was much room for improvement to the consumer experience of buying or selling a home.
My listing broker was a leading brokerage that is so entrenched in their traditional ways…they could not see the forest through the trees (my bad). One day as I sat in front of a founding principal of this brokerage discussing what we could do to improve the potential for selling our homes…I asked what her brokerage was really doing for us? How are we differentiating ourselves? I say “we” because I had a team mentality at that time. What makes you, as a brokerage, different than the rest? What am I paying you for? She replied with a puzzled look on her face…well, we are holding open houses. Your home is in the MLS and the Sunday paper. That was the best she had. It was then that I realized…I am in trouble. I had $10 million of inventory and could only hope for a decent housing market. Fortunately, I was in a town doing better than the rest of the country.
As I left the brokerage office that day, I felt violated. I had been listing my homes with this brokerage for over a decade. On several occasions I had made suggestions of ideas to implement to help their builders in the tough times. I wanted to think outside the box…but it fell on deaf ears. I left with the feeling that they no more cared about my business than a man on the moon. I was just another listing. In fact, one of my pet peeves over the years was getting the fake signature cards of the principals thanking us each time we sold a house with them. *Note to brokers… don’t do that. I cant think of anything more impersonal.
Once the last house was sold and the damage was done, I had a chance to reflect on what next. I felt compelled to use my experience in the financial industry combined with what I saw in the real estate industry and see if I could help consumers and agents work together more efficiently.
I had to ask…why isn’t all the data readily available to consumers? Its 2011 for crying out loud! If I am looking at a property, how come my agents website doesn’t give me all the data? I couldn’t find a reason why not. Why is certain data only available to agents through the MLS? I want to know how many days a home has been listed on the market. I want to know what has been going on with the price of a home for sale and where the seller stands without having to go through my agent. I want Sold data from other homes in the area I am looking. I want a better picture of the market so I can decide where to price my home for sale.
I also felt like agents weren’t keeping up with the latest methods to collaborate with their clients. It’s obvious that the days of unreadable faxes, hand written signatures and sign in sheets for open houses are gone. It seems like some agents have yet to realize that. This, however, may not be all their fault. There are countless tools for agents in the marketplace but I couldn’t find the ones that would meet my needs as a client…not an agent.
I see the success that Redfin and a few others are having in terms of creating transparency and providing data. That encourages me. I see the success that Zillow and Trulia have experienced. Syndication has its own set of issues but, in the end, does serve consumers well.
I still believe there is much more that can be done. NuHabitat is the next generation of real estate brokerage leveraging the use of information and technology to provide the best client experience possible. We started from the ground-up designing our proprietary application with consumer needs in mind. Ease of use and accurate data are the hallmarks of the NuHabitat application. Utilizing today’s most advanced web and mobile technologies, we have developed a suite of online tools and a collaborative environment that serves clients, agents and brokers in the residential real estate industry. Our goal is to create an experience that maximizes search, social, collaboration and the delivery of multi-media to our clients. Our search results are based on MLS data coming directly from the Houston Association of Realtors and provides the most accurate, updated and comprehensive data available in the HAR geographical area with results such as “Days on Market”, “Historical Pricing Data” and “Sold Data” for registered users.
It is my goal to make the process of buying or selling a home a better experience. There is so much this goal can encompass that there is no way I can fit it all in to one blog post. I hope in the future, I can continue to share my feelings about what a good experience feels like as a consumer and client in the real estate industry.
Jeff Burke | NuHabitat”