Philadelphia-based real estate startup Jove has a new iOS app of the same name that promises to bring Uber-like speed and convenience to buyers in the area, connecting them nearly instantly with nearby agents.
If that sounds familiar, it’s because several other competing startups and apps have sprung up in recent years pursuing a similar goal: take the now-familiar interfaces and mechanics of ridesharing/ride-hailing apps and apply them to residential real estate. But Jove’s founders say this is just a starting point — they ultimately want to tackle inefficiencies across the entire industry.
The app launched in early October and allows prospective home buyers in the Philadelphia metropolitan area to search and browse available properties on a map. When ready, the app lets all nearby participating agents know when and where the customers would like to view a home. Agents who respond first get the business.
“We found through our research that typically people expect response times within an hour,” when looking for a real estate agent, said Josh Evans, Jove’s co-founder, during a phone call with Inman.com. The problem was, the turnaround time for agents returning buyer inquiries ended up being about 24 hours.
“We think we can shorten that time to 15 minutes, by pinging every available agent on the platform,” he continued. So far, 48 agents have signed up for the platform, Evans told Inman.
Agents use a separate app that lets them see available showing requests and pick those that work with their schedule. At this time, there are no fees for either the buyer or agents connected through the Jove app says Evans.
Evans highlighted the fact that modern homebuyers, with the help of large home search websites including Zillow, Trulia and Redfin, know the price point, neighborhood and possibly the exact home they want to look at before thinking of connecting with an agent.
Understanding that reality, said Evans, will make things more straightforward for agents, as well. “The hardest part of [a broker’s] job is finding the right buyer, the second hardest part of the job is finding the right property for that buyer. And what we do is, we match you with a buyer who’s already identified at least the type of property that they want to begin their search with,” he said.
The personal experience of Evans and his business partner, Pennsylvania-licensed broker Steve D’Agostino, is at the root of how they know expediency is needed in the early steps of the homebuying process. After finding an out-of-state investment property they were very interested in, a delayed agent meant that the opportunity slipped out of their grasp.
“It’s unbelievable that we got a cab to get down there within 30 seconds just by pressing a button,” said Evans. “And I can’t get an agent who’s going to get paid tens of thousands of dollars to show me [the home] to get out here and get me through the door in the time that I need in order to get ahead of the market.”
Jove is in midst of preparing for a series-A investment, but its next steps are to plot a course towards a revenue model. The app pulls its listing data from Bright MLS and all agents are based in Philadelphia.
While it has the infrastructure to go nationwide, that’s still a ways down the line. Evans’ goal is to create a product with impeccable customer service.
“We really like to have our hands in nearly every transaction, if possible, just to make sure things are going smoothly and that is a good experience for all involved,” he said.
Future features for the app, according to Evans, will include is an agent pool and search so that the homebuyer can pick the correct broker for their specific needs. That’s an important priority to the company which wants to differentiate itself in an increasingly busy marketplace.
“We know that agents are more than just a hand with a key,” he said. “Agents really are consultants and if you don’t have the right agent, getting through the door is the least of your problems.”