For many of us here in the Northwest, it was a joyful -- even inspiring -- moment: the Seahawks’ against-all-odds comeback over the Packers in the 2015 NFC Championship Game. For Aaron Cunningham of Movsi, a new real estate startup, the return trip to Spokane after attending that game was the start of something big.
“A group of friends who work in real estate were on the way home from the game, and one of the guys said, ‘Someday someone is going to come up with an idea that takes the Uber model and applies it to real estate.’ At the time, I found that a little far-fetched,” Cunningham remembers.
“But it was a thought worth developing,” adds Cunningham’s partner Eric Davidson.
So Cunningham and Davidson took two years of conversation and developed the idea. Brainstorm sessions led to hypotheticals about how home buyers and sellers might be able to connect in a way that is simple, transparent, and comfortable -- not to mention far less expensive than working with a traditional real estate agent. To be sure, a real estate transaction has a lot more complexity than a passenger/driver interaction through Uber, but new web and mobile-based platforms will eventually find ways to handle that complexity. After all, ten years ago, who would’ve thought it would be mainstream to routinely ride around in strangers’ cars?
With Movsi (short for “move simply”), Cunningham and Davidson want to be the ones who make that leap -- along with their crew of developers, real-estate/finance experts, and sales associates.
“All of these conversations came to a big moment in October 2016,” says Cunningham. “We sat at my desk and went over all these details for what it would look like. The next day, Eric came in and just said, ‘We’ve got to do this thing.’”
Since then, they’ve been doing it. With over 20 years of combined work in real estate, and hundreds of transactions under their belts, the two of them knew the process could be more transparent and streamlined. The hope is to not only remove some of the clunky faxing and scanning back and forth that goes on between parties, but also to remove the fear that comes with buying and selling without an agent.
“That’s one of the main reasons people go with a traditional real estate broker,” says Cunningham. “Because they are afraid of getting into trouble. But we can do just as well at helping buyers and sellers avoid pitfalls, using new tools and customized technology to facilitate the process.”
The platform they’ve built puts a lot of control in the user’s hands, but still offers the exposure of listing through MLS and all the major search sites, and the access of a lock box for showings. A one-time flat fee is all a seller pays, rather than a percentage of the sale price, offering an average savings of over $8,000. For buyers, the process of making an offer is much simpler, and savings are passed on to them as well.
“I love having conversations with sellers who are leaning toward going ‘for sale by owner’ and I see them start to understand that a tool like this really does provide a better way,” says Reid Brown, the company’s Sales Manager.
As Movsi dreams big and thinks outside the box, they’ve found a bank in INB who will walk alongside them as they develop the company. Through Cunningham’s other company Inland Capital, a funding source for real estate investors, the team had already developed a strong relationship of trust with their bank, which they say is a huge asset to any startup.
While other companies offer a hybrid between “for sale by owner” and traditional brokerage, Davidson and Cunningham see their project going further. By bringing new technology to bear on the process, they believe Movsi is a bridge between the discovery process buyers and sellers expect today and a new way of actually making transactions that will shape real estate for years to come.
And, as they work to build that bridge, INB will be there day by day to fulfill their business banking needs.