If you’ve ever bought or sold a home, you know that working with the right agent can make all the difference in the world. While in recent years, many new models have emerged for buying and selling homes, ranging from instant offers to rent-to-own, each targeting specific consumer segments and needs, we believe that traditional independent agents will continue to play a central role for a majority of home buyers and sellers.
Historically, real estate agents felt compelled to work with large, established brokerages, especially early in their careers. However, the value that large brokerages previously provided to agents — physical offices, a reputable brand halo, and help with client sourcing — has been eroded by new technologies and changing consumer expectations. For many agents, the downsides of working with brokerages (i.e. high fee structures and bureaucracy) far outweigh the benefits.
Buyers and sellers have embraced the web as an integral component of the house hunting process. Ninety-three percent of home buyers and ninety-nine percent of millennials search online. Entrepreneurial agents leverage services like Zillow and Trulia to source leads, and many have built sales teams to help scale their businesses. Over the last decade, this shift has completely upended the power dynamic between brokerages and agents, making traditional residential real estate brokerages ripe for disruption.
I’m thrilled to be backing an exciting startup called Side that is building the real estate brokerage of the future.
Unlike traditional real estate brokerages, Side is:
● White-Label, so it’s the agent that shines, not the brokerage — Side is laser-focused on delivering as much value as possible to agents, helping them to build their own brands and businesses. Side helps agents with everything from logo design to team recruitment to system implementation.
● State-of-the-art technology — Side’s platform (1) automates transaction management, saving agents valuable time and reducing errors, (2) curates and integrates best-of-breed technology for front-end services like customer relationship management, and (3) helps agents manage their teams and their pipelines.
● Fully Virtual — Real estate agents are mobile workers and don’t want to bear the overhead of a brokerage office, either because they don’t need one or because they already have their own for their team. Side recognizes this and has designed its technology to be truly mobile-first.
Side is well-positioned for the future of real estate, given the long-term pressure on real estate agent commissions. With its leading-edge technology platform and virtual approach, Side is able to offer agents low commission splits while delivering the highest service levels. When we conducted our diligence, we heard powerful and inspiring stories from Side’s agent partners about how Side is helping them take their businesses to the next level. Their excitement was palpable and a huge motivator for our investment.
Side founders Guy Gal, Ed Wu, and Hilary Saunders possess deep empathy for agents. They are highly strategic about how they can create maximum value for their agent customers, and they bring strong technical and product chops to the table to execute their vision. We couldn’t be more excited to support Guy, Ed, Hilary and the rest of the Side team with our Series B investment. You can read more from Inman’s Teke Wiggin here.