Tech Bytes
Illustration by Lanette Behiry/Real Estate News

Tech Bytes: News from Redfin, eXp and Opendoor, Knock, Zonda, more 

Redfin adds “Ask Redfin” to iPhone app; eXp/Opendoor integration launches; Knock unveils crowdfunding effort; Zonda acquires BDX; HomeStack/LiveEasy team up.

March 7, 2024
5 minutes

Editor's note: Technology is a driving force in real estate. From startups to established players, tech companies are constantly innovating, growing and forging partnerships. Here we highlight some of the latest news about the companies that help power the industry. 

'Ask Redfin' adds AI-powered assistant to its app

Redfin has launched "Ask Redfin," a new feature in its iPhone app that uses generative AI to answer questions about homes for sale.

People can ask for details about everything from a specific home's features to information about the community, schools and local market conditions. If questions go beyond the scope of the LLMs (large language models) at its core, "Ask Redfin" promises to connect people with a licensed real estate agent who can discuss things like making an offer.

"When you're house-hunting, details about all the homes you're considering start to blur together," said Dallas Redfin Premier Agent Casi Fricks. "Ask Redfin will be an asset to buyers looking for fast answers 24/7. And, if a buyer wants to take next steps, get more expert insights or discuss their options, they're quickly connected to an agent who can help."

The "Ask Redfin" feature should be available to people using the latest version of the Redfin app for iPhone in select metros including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas and Washington, D.C. Others can opt in by visiting the "My Redfin" part in the app and selecting "Try Ask Redfin."

Opendoor integration with eXp goes live

Opendoor this week became the first integrated API tool and primary cash offer solution on eXp's ExpressOffers platform. This allows agents to request a cash offer on qualifying properties directly through an agent's eXp dashboard — a partnership the brokerage called a "huge win" when it was announced last fall. 

Agents can get a preliminary offer in minutes and a final offer in days. Also, they can choose to either refer or represent their client in the transaction. Either way, they will be eligible for a commission and Opendoor's "Agent Access" points, which can provide additional rewards.

"Once I went into the portal and said that my clients had accepted the Opendoor offer, it was the smoothest, easiest process after that," said Ellen Pool, an eXp Realty agent in Houston. "The Opendoor option will be part of every single one of my listing presentations going forward. You never know what someone's going to say yes to until you ask them."

Knock announces crowdfunding campaign

"Buy before you sell" company Knock recently launched an equity crowdfunding campaign that its CEO describes as the first in the real estate space.

Individuals can invest as little as $100 in Knock via Wefunder, a platform that facilitates investment in startups. Knock is allocating $5 million of its latest $15 million financing round to the public, with professional investors including NAR's Second Century Ventures, funding another $10 million.

Sean Black, co-founder and CEO of Knock, said the campaign is meant "to further democratize our business by giving our partner agents, loan officers and customers the opportunity to invest in Knock before a potential IPO or acquisition."

Knock also announced that it has secured more than $125 million in new revolving lines of credit to fund its bridge loan program, an "on-demand financing solution" for homebuyers.

Zonda acquires Builders Digital Experience

Zonda, a company that provides data, analytics and insights for the homebuilding industry, recently announced its acquisition of Builders Digital Experience (BDX).

BDX was founded by a group of 24 top homebuilders, including Lennar, PulteGroup and KB Home. It includes the new construction home listings platform — described as the largest in the nation — and Envision, a leading home design platform. 

Zonda says the move will allow homebuyers to more easily shop for specific home sites, schedule tours and even customize a home.

"By combining a new home listings portal with Zonda's deep dataset, we'll be able to better serve the unique needs of home shoppers, ultimately driving more connections with buyers and awareness for home builders," said Jeff Meyers, CEO of Zonda, which also operates Canada's top new construction listings portal, Livabl.

HomeStack and LiveEasy announce partnership

HomeStack, which provides while-label mobile tech solutions for brokers, teams and agents, announced this week that it is teaming up with client-engagement platform LiveEasy to create a mobile-optimized experience  and simplify the home ownership journey.

"Our platform puts homebuyers and homeowners in the driver's seat, equipping them with the knowledge and tools they need to make informed decisions about their biggest investment," said Will Grewal, CEO of HomeStack. "Partnering with LiveEasy expands our reach and strengthens our commitment to offering a holistic homeownership ecosystem." 

Both platforms are designed to make communication between agents and consumers easier. Through this partnership, LiveEasy users gain access to HomeStack's market insights and property data, while HomeStack users can use LiveEasy to set up home-related services.

"This collaboration creates a comprehensive solution that redefines the entire homeownership journey," said Venkatesh Ganapathy, CEO of LiveEasy.

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