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NAR REach announces first company accepted into accelerator program, Pro.com

NAR REach has announced that Pro.com is the first brand to be part of their accelerator program, and applications end this week.

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The National Association of Realtors’ (NAR’s) strategic investment arm, Second Century Ventures has announced Pro.com as the first brand that they have selected to be in the third graduating class of their Reach tech accelerator program.

Pro.com helps homeowners to price projects, find quality certified local professionals, and finish their home to-do lists, under the leadership of Matt Williams and his team of former Amazon execs. The home services marketplace enables real estate professionals to help homeowners get accurate pricing on home projects.

Transparency and timing

Just visit Pro.com and see that transparency is the name of the game – we liken the site to the TrueCar.com of home improvement projects wherein a sliding scale of prices is given for each unique project, right up front. The company is already funded to the tune of $17.5 million, and the site was born out of frustration with how much time and effort it takes to find out how much a project will cost (the first question anyone wants to know, and often what holds people back from embarking on any investment, large or small). They saw how fragmented the industry was, and how difficult it is to get quality work done, so they pounced.

The consensus with our team is that the timing is great for REach and Pro.com to be partnered, as transparency is no longer a buzzword, it is a requirement. As the large real estate portals draw their swords against each other, the industry often forgets that transparency can be about so much more than just listing data (just ask the CFPB), because transparency in any data is a top reason people don’t pull the trigger on a purchase (imagine going to Amazon and not seeing any dollar signs – you’d be out of there in a heartbeat).

NAR REach applications are still open

This is the first company to be announced for the 2015 Reach accelerator program, and applications will be open through March 19th. The remaining companies will be announced in April.

The focus of the REach program is to provide a platform from which technology companies can launch into the real estate vertical, most of whom are not real-estate specific. Past participants include Updater, BombBomb, SmartZip, and SendHub. Many other accelerators take ideas and turn them into MVPs (minimum viable products), but REach takes existing brands and skyrockets their potential footprint in the real estate industry.

Why is Pro.com perfect for REach?

In a statement, Williams said, “It’s an honor to be accepted into this year’s REach accelerator program – the knowledge, resources and support will be invaluable to us as we grow.”

“Pro.com is ideally poised to take full advantage of the REach program, as they and all participants will benefit significantly from access to real estate leaders – from education to mentorship to market exposure,” said NAR President Chris Polychron. “While Pro.com is applicable to so many individuals, it hits on a sweet spot in the real estate space, as in this day and age, Realtors® are going well beyond the transaction and often times act as an advisor to homebuyers and sellers, who turn to Realtors® when making improvements to their homes.”

Constance Freedman, Founder, Managing Director at REach(TM) and Managing Director, Second Century Ventures; Vice President of Strategic Investments, NAR tells us that Pro.com is an interesting addition to the REach program, “because of the fact that 54 percent of Realtors’ business is from past clients and referrals, and Pro.com can help Realtors add value, even after the transaction.” Bingo.

How this came to be, and what’s next?

Williams tells us that they heard about the REach program by participating in various real estate events, and considers this an opportunity to serve the industry even more deeply. Because most home improvement projects take place 90 days before or after a transaction, Pro.com believes that their site is an important tools for real estate professionals who are called upon to make these “deeply personal recommendations and referrals” – it’s much easier when the pros being referred are of vetted quality.

So yeah, yeah, buzzwords about transparency and quality, but what does that really mean? It means that no one pays to be featured on Pro.com, that they certify their professionals not only by verifying licenses, insurance, and bonding, but by actually calling their references of past clients. Williams says they’re similar to Uber in that consumers pay money for action, and they are actually helping as a service (whereas we look to home repair sites like Angie’s List that offers the opposite).

Williams encourages others to apply to REach, as it is “the best program for anyone looking to make inroads into the [real estate] industry,” and that it is “truly rare to have access to people with this much knowledge of an industry.” Williams also asserts that the available mentoring, resources, and events will help Pro.com to continue to “revolutionize” the space. In the future, they hope to have a Realtor-specific product.

Freedman says this is a tool that Realtors can leverage, and we suspect that with these two teaming up, this will become even more true.

#NARREach

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The Real Daily and sister news outlet, The American Genius, and has been named in the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders several times, co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

Real Estate Technology

How to delete your digital footprint instead of just whining about it

(TECH NEWS) Instead of whining about wanting to delete your Facebook or Google data, why not actually delete it? A new site makes it all possible.

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In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data grab and the resulting suspicions surrounding targeted advertising, more and more people are beginning to appreciate the idea of deleting their digital footprints from the Internet – but where does one even begin?

Fortunately, Deletist has more than one answer for you.

Decent, comprehensive, non-biased information can be difficult to find, especially when it comes to something so nuanced as removing your data from the Internet. Deletist provides such information for common social platforms including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Reddit, and Google, with updated instructions coming for WhatsApp ASAP.

Once on the website, all you need to do is click at the top of the page the app icon for the service for which you want to delete your information. Doing this loads up a set of instructions not only for deleting your account, but also for downloading a copy of your data and erasing as much of your digital fingerprint as is currently possible.

Having this kind of information available is refreshing in and of itself, but the level of detail behind the instruction is especially invigorating given the breadth of the demographic that’s most likely interested in deleting themselves off the Internet. Too often, tech tutorials are geared toward people who need less instruction than suggestion while sometimes the non-tech crowd struggle to decipher the meaning of phrases “hamburger” and “drop-down icon” in context.

The site’s creator makes being a “deletist” accessible and easy for everyone.

One point that is brought up on the instruction page for Facebook is something that is especially important for those not in the know: if you use your Facebook (or Google, or LinkedIn, etc.) account to sign up for a service such as Spotify, wiping the list of linked apps and then deleting your account will make recovery for the service impossible.

For this reason, finding a way to move your service’s contact information from using Facebook (or the like) to using an email address is a good idea.

And, if you do delete Google and its related products, a word of advice: don’t switch to Yahoo.

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Real Estate Technology

Smart homes spy on you, here’s how to spy back

(TECHNOLOGY) Wow surprise, smart homes spy on you constantly. Here’s why it matters, and how to spy back.

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We’ve long talked about the risks and rewards of technology, especially IoT devices in the home. For every cool gadget, there’s a chance your information will get hacked or tracked.

Last year, Congress thought it would be fun to give Internet Service Providers (ISPs) power to spy on customer internet usage data and sell it. Which means your ISP can see all the data from your smart devices and profit from selling you out to third parties.

Some folks at Gizmodo decided to conduct an experiment to see how much data can be tracked from smart homes.

Back in December, Gizmodo senior reporter Kashmir Hill set up just about every smart device imaginable in her apartment including an Amazon Echo, smart TV, smart lights, toothbrushes, baby monitor, and even a mattress.

Hill’s colleague Surya Mattu, Gizmodo data reporter, configured a router to track the device’s network activity and give the duo the same view as Hill’s ISP.

They found that since the router’s installation in early December 2017, there was not a single day without activity from the router.

At least once a day, at least one of the smart devices sent data packets to the ISP, manufacturer, or third parties. If Hill told the living room to turn on the lights, Phillips got alerted. If the family watched something on Hulu, the smart TV sent information to data brokers.

Every action could be (and in most cases was) tracked and recorded, creating a vast data set about Hill’s daily routines and schedules.

Routine tracking may seem mundane since right now most of the data isn’t being used, just monitored and recorded. However, this data may have more impact in the future.

We already have car insurance companies that offer discounts for safe driving if you use their driving monitors. Cybersecurity expert David Choffnes points out we’re not too far from a world where smart toothbrushes may connect to dental insurance rates and discounts. We’ve explored how smart watches and even browser history could impact your health insurance rates and insurability. Right now it’s all theoretical, but the bones are there to create a tech-inspired Frankenstein.

Plus, it’s inherently creepy to think that an ISP could deduce your family’s schedule based on use of smart devices.

So how can you spy back to see what kind of data is being reported?

Well, for starters you’ll need to have some computer knowledge. Or a pal who is willing to help you out in your endeavor to be a smart home spy.

For the Gizmodo experiment, Mattu built a customized router using a Raspberry Pi 3, which is a tiny computer you can custom program. If you want to replicate their test, these run around $35 for a single board.

Fortunately, the Raspberry Pi 3 comes with built in wifi hardware so it should be fairly easy to configure it as a router if you already know how to use one.

Once connected to the internet and set up as a wifi router, you’ll add the script to monitor network traffic. For this part, you need an understanding of Git and Github.

Next, set up a server so you can store traffic. Mattu and Hill used Amazon Web Services, but you can use your own server if you want. They also crafted a front-end interface to analyze the data.

Note the times when you connect and use the devices for easier analysis. If you want more details about setting up your very own smart home data traffic monitoring router, check out their article.

Some of the information collected from the devices may seem trivial. After all, what does it really matter if Philips knows what time you get up in the morning? Hill noted the data being sent is “basic, boring, information, but revealing information about how we live our life.”

This data could start to matter if companies and ISPs use your information control how you use their devices and how products are sold to you.

TV watching data is already being sold to data brokers. It’s just a matter of time before your sleep score from a smart mattress gets reported to your health insurance to determine coverage or something equally Big Brother-like.

Smart homes are predicted to be a $27 billion market by 2021, with an unprecedented number of new devices in our homes. Before rushing out to get the latest smart device, make sure you’re fully aware of what data you may be inadvertently sharing with companies.

Check out different products’ privacy policies before buying to make sure you’re cool with what information the device will be sending. And if you don’t want your ISP to know how often you make lattes, maybe opt for a coffee maker that isn’t wifi-enabled.

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Real Estate Technology

New startup makes rent count toward tenants’ credit

(REAL ESTATE TECH) This startup gives property owners an advantage while improving the renter economy and making rent count toward credit.

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keyo tenant credit

Although property management tools for landlords are well established (think Yardi or RealPage), a new startup is taking a residential approach to property management. Keyo offers renters a seamless way to engage with tenants to provide rent payments, maintenance requests, and building announcements. Before the lease is signed, Keyo can handle tenant applications, free background checks, and digital contract management.

Keyo is renter focused, from the marketing (encouraging tenants to push for it) to the focus on appealing to the new modern renter. From the ability to set up “Scouts” who show units for you (and make money on the side to show the unit and expedite the process), to the fact that renters could apply for an apartment and never pay a single application fee for multiple units – which is also a cost that you the landlord doesn’t have to pass onto them.

The vision is to make the renting economy more accessible, friendlier, and less complicated for tenants.

The best feature by far?

Rent payments made through Keyo are reported to credit bureaus Equifax and TransUnion– which rewards tenants by improving their credit.

(FYI: Renters have less opportunity to improve their credit unlike many mortgage holders.)

Keyo also allows ACH payments for rent – (and as a millennial who resents checks, this is AWESOME), helping individuals pay their rent on time. Maintenance requests are easy and transparent as well.

Keyo makes its money from landlords who pay it to help them fill units, and it provides some key marketing features, including search optimization, analytics on marketing, and all those paperwork management (which means you don’t’ have to pass that cost along to the tenant, which can make investment property owners more competitive). The pricing works out to $5.00 monthly per unit, and each new tenant that is delivered by Keyo costs the landlord one month’s rent. This could be less expensive than the cost of a broker’s standard charge in your region.

Keyo is focused primarily on Brooklyn, but is looking to expand to larger markets. The true test of its quality will be how it translates outside of the wild west of NYC. While being feature-packed, compared to some property management systems like Yardi, this seems a fair bit sparse, but likely is lower overhead.

This is a modern, simple, resident driven platform that could help investment property owners to be more competitive and improve the renter economy.

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