Some people are calling this tech start-up the eHarmony of real estate. And, it’s about to expand its operations nationwide with $27 million dollars in new venture capital funding.
Opcity is a technology platform out of Austin, Texas, that sorts through online real estate inquiries to identify people who are ready to buy, or sell. It then delivers referrals or what it calls “warm transfers” to brokers and agents. The company claims the lead conversion ratio is 3 to 5 times better than industry standards. And it’s all done with no upfront costs. What real estate agent wouldn’t want that kind of help?
The business is based on the need for high-quality leads and a quick follow-up by agents. Many agents spend a lot of time trying to cultivate leads online. It’s important to build a website, make appearances on social media, maybe write a blog, and make sure the search engines can find you. These efforts will hopefully translate into clients calling or emailing you.
Although building an online presence is extremely important for anyone in business today, Opcity is offering to do the work of “lead generation” for you. It says on the website: “We take the pain out of buying and validating online internet leads by purchasing them ourselves, validating only those that are ready to buy or sell, and then matching them to the right agent by using our proprietary technology.”
And this is done without charging any upfront fees. Opcity gets a referral fee when the lead converts into a transaction.
Opcity Delivers “Transaction-Ready” Clients
The process begins with client validation. What happens after that is interesting. A call center representative will refer a “transaction-ready” client to several agents via “text message”. The text messages will be sent using Opcity’s mobile app. The first agent to receive a text will have the first opportunity to respond. If he or she doesn’t react quickly, however, other agents will start getting text messages and the agent who responds first will get the lead.
Opcity says a fast response is crucial. Clients may be trying to contact someone because they want to see a home right away. If they are connected with an agent who can show that home quickly, Opcity says the more likely they are to close with that agent.
Opcity says only refers clients who are “transaction-ready”. Those clients will have passed a “ready” test by Opcity’s Client Specialists. Clients who are not ready to buy will not pass that test. They may not be ready to buy, or may not have spoken to a lender yet for pre-approval, or may have a low credit score they are hoping to improve. Opcity says it will work with clients on getting them ready to buy before they send the referral.
Benefits of Opcity for Brokers and Agents
What sets Opcity apart from other lead texting services, is the proprietary matching software. Inman reports that software initially chooses agents based on who’s closed the most deals in a given area. Over time, the criteria is based more on an agent’s success with Opcity leads. An agent who closes more deals will end up with more leads.
Inman writes that another Opcity benefit is the data that’s provided to brokerages. The broker can more easily determine the ROI for various marketing techniques, and can help with agent coaching, if needed.
The company claims it is increasing the lead to conversion rate by three to five times the industry average. CEO Ben Rubenstein told Forbes: “Our goal at Opcity is to simplify this process and to generate a more efficient ecosystem by matching home buyers and sellers with the right agents in real-time and then optimizing their experience every step of the way.”
Inman says: “The typical agents converts one out of every 10 leads vetted by Opcity into closings. That may sound low but, Rubenstein says, it blows away the industry average.”
Inman reports that Opcity only delivers one out of three leads. The ones who are not sent to agents are then groomed with a long-term marketing campaign to help make them “transaction-ready”.
Opcity Impresses Venture Captalists
Ventures capitalists are apparently impressed. Silicon Valley’s Icon Ventures led the Series A funding with participation from two other VC groups. Opcity says it will use the money to bring the platform to brokerages nationwide and triple its workforce from 100 employees to 300.
The company gathered much of its data from an Austin-based brokerage HomeCity and its lead-generation and qualification techniques. Rubenstein says: “It’s hard for a lot of entrepreneurs to raise money.” He says; “We have some serious competitive advantage here. We’ve built a business. We’ve scaled it. This is not an idea we have. This is based on 16 years of data at HomeCity.”
The company launched its service last year and is already servicing 350 brokerages and more than 4,000 agents. Customers include Better Homes & Gardens, Keller Williams, ReMax, and Century21 along with leading independent brokers.