[Note from the editor: Originally published on Thomvest’s Blog]
Today we’re pleased to release an updated version of the real estate technology market map we originally published in 2018. A high-resolution version of the map can be accessed here, and the full list of companies is available here.
This market map includes 180 real estate technology companies operating across every phase of the home purchase value chain. These companies have collectively raised more than $20B in venture capital, and range from seed stage businesses to public companies. If you’d like to suggest a company to be added to this market map, please submit them using this form.
You’ll notice that several companies are included in more than one section — this is due to the fact that many of these businesses have expanded their product areas to capture multiple phases of the transaction process. For instance, while Blend’s original product focused specifically on the mortgage point-of-sale, the company has since expanded to offer home insurance and digital closings. As such, we’ve included the Blend logo in those areas.
At Thomvest, we’ve been actively studying how technology is being utilized in real estate. We view technology as both a means of lowering transaction costs and an enabler of new transactions by better matching demand and supply. Software is also being adopted across some of the more labor-intensive areas of real estate — for instance, in property management and home improvement — as a means of improving efficiency and productivity.
Personally, I’ve been impressed by the quality of entrepreneurs building technology companies in residential real estate. Founders here are passionate about creating better experiences for consumers. Many have experienced their own frustrations when buying or selling a property, and aspire to rebuild the experience from the ground up. Others are seasoned operators within real estate and see technology as a competitive advantage in an otherwise analog asset class.
Impacts of COVID-19 on technology adoption
Every constituency within the real estate sector — including agents, lenders, title companies, and attorneys — are scrambling to adjust to life under lockdown. In my last post on the housing market, I touched on the dramatic impact COVID-19 has had on transaction volume and home showings. In many ways, the pandemic has accelerated existing trends around digitization of the home buying process. There are a few areas in particular where technology is being utilized:
1. Deepened reliance on “home shopping” apps
Shelter-in-place is created new behaviors around the home shopping experience. Rather than spending a half day touring open homes, prospective buyers are relying on apps like Zillow and Realtor.com to “tour” properties in lieu of an in-person visit. Zillow created 525% more 3D home tours in April compared to February, and CEO Rich Barton recently remarked that “the virtual tools home shoppers need for safety today will become their expectations for convenience tomorrow.”
2. Rapid adoption of digital tools for real estate transactions
Many of the processes associated with closing a real estate transaction are traditionally completed in-person. These include appraisals, inspections, notarizations and local government filings. Fortunately, startups are here to help. Companies like Blend, Modus, Side and Snapdocs offer products that enable digital closings. 46 states now let notaries do their jobs using a combination of video and online document sharing, up from 23 prior to the pandemic. Additionally, large mortgage buyers like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are increasingly relying on automated home valuations in lieu of in-person appraisals. We believe these new methods are here to stay, which will be a strong tailwind for startups building digital home buying experiences.
3. More tools for homeowners to manage their largest asset
Startups in the real estate vertical must take advantage of their agility relative to incumbent banks, and design products and services that reflect today’s changing consumer needs. This can take the form of better credit products (for example, smart loans powered by LoanSnap or HELOCs offered by Figure), or novel home equity products like Unison. We’re also seeing a number of interesting businesses that help homeowners maintain and improve their property, including Pro.com and Made Renovation. These startups help automate much of home renovation process, including design, planning & construction.