By Meghan Hall
The dynamic nature of the residential real estate market can make finding off-market listings — homes that are never posted to the Multiple Listing Service — difficult to track. Property Genius, a technology platform that seeks to curate off-market homes to streamline the real estate investment research process, was founded by Jason Bryant and Brandon Brazemore.
We recently spoke with Bryant – also the company’s chief executive officer – about Property Genius and the services it provides to real estate investors in the residential sector.
How did you come up with the idea of Property Genius?
I have been in real estate for over 15 years, having personally been frustrated with the amount of redundant and unnecessary work involved in pursuing off-market deals. I knew that with modern technology, there had to be a better answer. In my co-founder Brandon Bazemore, I found a partner who has successfully leveraged technology to disrupt another industry (telecom), so we set out to create a solution to this frustration felt by real estate professionals like myself.
We saw a gap in the market and wanted to create a tool that not only allowed individual investors to identify foreclosures, but also the ability to target other types of potential off-market deals.
Also prior to Property Genius, Brandon and I partnered to build a white label site called MyRealtyHub, a leading foreclosure tool with more than 5,000 users and has close to a 100% market share of the foreclosure auction brokers in the Pacific Northwest. This background helped up evolve the idea for Property Genius and turn our idea into a reality.
What are the company’s current objectives?
We are aiming to prove out our model in key markets across the West, and then raise additional funds to rapidly scale the business from coast to coast. We believe there is a great demand for such a valuable tool for investors.
Why do you think that no central database covering foreclosures and distressed properties existed before Property Genius?
The process of getting the data FIRST hand from the counties is incredibly time consuming and difficult. Most companies look to get this data from one of a few different sources out there, but we found those to be far out of date and unreliable.
We’ve spent thousands of hours to allow our tools to update directly from the counties themselves. Foreclosures are the cherry on top here in terms of time, because we also have to go and get this data. Through our investments in technology, we’ve automated much of the process, but we still have a Data Integrity Team that conducts daily research, verifying the data in our system to make sure it is the best available for our customers. I think that the amount of work to pull this all off is just very daunting to most companies and investors!
Another thing we noticed was that the vast majority of big brands in this market focus on the end user only, and not the investor. While this makes sense if you are only interested in getting new users to your platform, we felt that focusing on the smaller subset of true real estate investors was well worth the time and effort involved.
Can you explain for an investor unfamiliar with the product how the platform works and serves its users?
The Property Genius platform includes three key features to help real estate professionals find and invest in off-market and wholesale properties:
Property Search: We mine the entire assessor database and make it possible for users to run searches based on property types, characteristics and owner scenarios.
Targeted Marketing: Users are able to create targeted marketing lists based on having the ability to parse the database into like-kind properties, length of ownership and even property condition.
Property Tracking: We track foreclosures through their entire life cycle, providing cancellations, postponements and even minimum bids in real time. This saves investors a great deal of time by not wasting their time chasing dead-end deals. For those not familiar, it is very common that out of 100 properties scheduled for auction only five or so will go to auction. Without our tool, investors waste an enormous amount of time and effort.
Why select Colorado as the flagship market that property genius seeks to serve despite being based in Seattle?
Great question! Colorado in fact has one of the most dynamic real estate — and foreclosure in particular — markets in the country. We believe if we can prove out our model in the main counties of Colorado, we can expand into other regions quickly, including our backyard here in Seattle.
What would Property Genius aim to target next? Why?
Given the growth and movement in the Western states, we have our eyes on expanding to Utah, Oregon, Idaho and Arizona. That said, we have already had interest from potential investors and partners in other states across the United States, so we’re open to discuss other geographies for expansion.
What will some of the challenges that property genius will face as it plans to expand?
Funding to build out the database of counties. While the platform we have built is highly efficient and scalable, there are hard costs associated with entering a new market.
Awareness and change. As with any disruptive technology or approach in an industry accustomed to doing something one way for a long time, raising awareness and understanding of the benefits of Property Genius will be a challenge, albeit a fun challenge. The good aspect of this challenge is that without fail, everyone we speak to about the technology quickly understands the benefits of our service, [and] how it quickly opens doors for investors to be much more efficient with their time and resources.
How is Property Genius as a platform designed to work and coexist alongside other real estate websites that target the needs of retail customers?
We create zero conflict with retail websites and local MLSs. In fact, our tool can help agents to bring more homes to the retail market. In many ways agents face the same challenges as investors – they need more seller leads! Once an agent has the deal, they’d bring it to the retail market, which is well-served.
Where do you think that the residential real estate industry is headed in terms of its relationship with technology? Will these platforms stand the test of time?
Absolutely. As in any industry, technology is moving quickly, and we don’t see it slowing down any time soon. Keep in mind that not too long ago, agents had to go and get a book containing all of the listings, and a retail buyer wasn’t really able to see what was for sale! Now the retail client can take virtual reality walkthroughs of properties, set up tours, search criteria and more with an app on their cell phone. For agents, this means there is a lot more pressure to be unique and bring great deals to the table. The value of sending out those lists of homes may not be quite there, because the tech-savvy buyers can do that themselves. Our tool allows agents to be a market mover and differentiate themselves.
Thinking long term, how do you think a tool such as Property Genius will shape the real estate industry?
Big question there! What we would love to see is our tool being used to identify properties that would previously never have been discovered, and then agents and investors fixing those homes up or finding good buyers. We are already working on leveraging Amazon for machine learning to be able to write algorithms for this and are very excited that one day soon we will be finding and presenting these deals to our users.