Navigating the real estate world can be confusing and overwhelming — especially in 2021, when the market feels like the definition of chaos. That's why we're always on the lookout for new tools that make it easier to be a homeowner. The latest one that's on our radar is Realm, a one-stop shop for home advice that ranges from renovations and return on investment (ROI) to refinancing and trends.
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"Realm is building the first unbiased platform for American homeowners," Liz Young, a real estate entrepreneur and Realm's founder, tells Hunker. "Pre-Realm, how homeowners try to navigate decisions is they cobble together advice from a bunch of fragmented resources, many of which are biased — like professional contractors, brokers, people trying to sell them stuff — or opinionated people, family members, and neighbors who don't always know exactly what they're talking about."
Having launched in February 2021, Young was inspired to build Realm because she wanted everyone to be equipped with professional real estate data. "There are so many tools to manage your other finances, to manage your equities, your crypto, your bonds," she says. "There are a ton of tools to make it easier to buy or sell homes, but homeownership has been a total black box until now."
Through Realm, property owners in all 50 states can manage multiple residences, for which they can see current value and potential value. The latter is updated in real time, based on edits users are able to make when it comes to the projects they're interested in. On average, Realm users give the platform 7.3 unique data points about their home, which the company can then use to update its own databases.
"We do data three ways," Young explains. "Most data companies generally just buy data through partnerships. At Realm, that doesn't work for us because we can't buy enough data about homes. It doesn't exist." Instead, the brand utilizes basic public data, user information, and in-house insights that rely on local data. "We have the largest zoning database in the U.S.," she adds. "That's really important because square feet is one of the single biggest drivers of home value." As of now, Realm has provided these particulars to a whopping 70 million homeowners.
Using its streams of data, Realm is in a position to create property plans for its users, allowing them to pick projects and see how they impact potential home value and cost. The site is capable of doing this for each individual property because, according to Young, it "breaks the home into millions of little pieces." Other real estate companies tend to view the home as a whole, but Realm works to understand cost and value at the item level. Using this piece-by-piece information, the business can also help users who don't even know where to start, advising them on which parts of the home need renovating the most.
In terms of cost, Realm pulls pricing from local labor and materials data to give its patrons the most accurate, area-specific cost information. The platform also features a financing hub that educates consumers on home equity. "Homeowners really need to understand that because for many people, it's the single most affordable source of funds," Young says. "We also show if you're overpaying on your mortgage." In the future, Realm will even offer details regarding financial opportunities like tax credits and energy incentives.
On the other side of the coin (literally), you're probably asking yourself, "How is Realm free?" We had the same question. "We have great investors and we raised almost $15 million to date. We've [invested] almost all of that in data and technology, and we've been very disciplined about that," Young explains.
One way that Realm earns money is by helping homeowners make connections with contractors, architects, and lenders who are equipped to help with Realm's recommendations. "In those instances, we make money on the connection and the homeowner still ends up saving," Young says. Essentially, Realm's goal is to get as many people to benefit from its data as possible.
"In some areas, we actually help homeowners bring our recommendations to life through connecting them to the contractors, architects, and lenders who are best suited to carry them out — in those instances, we make money on the connection and the homeowner still ends up saving." Essentially, Realm's goal is to get as many people to benefit from its data as possible.
In a complex real estate market, it's tools like Realm that help us feel more in control of the homeownership process. Though the platform can also help people looking to buy a home, Realm's number-one user is the new homeowner who moved into their home within the last two years. This resource gives them the opportunity to formulate educated decisions that actually make a difference. On average, Realm's customers are uncovering $175,000 in untapped property value, which can make a significant impact in a market where finding a dream, ready-to-move-in home isn't always attainable.