When I was in my early twenties, the idea of buying a home terrified me. The only homes my parents ever owned were both foreclosed on--so for me, buying a home was associated with loss and hardship.
That association of purchasing a home with financial trauma is something many first-time home buyers in 2017 will be familiar with. While millennials waited longer than previous generations to purchase homes, they are finally entering the market. Many will carry scars from watching their parents experience the housing crash that occurred a decade ago.
And the process of buying a home--with its mountain of antiquated paperwork and lack of transparency--isn't likely to ease their anxiety.
One startup is trying to change that. Transactly is a new digital platform that places all the interaction and communication that occurs during the process of buying a home in one place.
The St. Charles, Missouri-based startup and its leadership team have strong roots in real estate. Founder & CEO Bryan Bowles is also the founder of Worth Clark Realty, a company that's twice been featured on the Inc. 5000. In 2016 Bowles' company was #89 on the list, making it the fastest growing company in Missouri and one of the fastest growing real estate brokerages in the country.
But growth for growth's sake was not Bowles and his team's ultimate goal.
"Buying a home is the most important and least transparent financial transaction you'll ever make," Bowles said. "That shouldn't be the case. In fact, the opposite should be true. More than 9 out of 10 real estate transactions start online--then they go dark. It's stressful, it isn't a customer-focused way of doing business, and in this day and age it's inexcusable. Buying a home should be one of the most exciting purchases you'll ever make, and because of a lack of transparency it often isn't."
"Transactly was founded to change that, and we believe in it so much that we want every agent to use it--not just the agents who work for Worth Clark Realty."
I eventually got over my fear of buying a home. Due to job changes and moving, over the past eight years my wife and I have bought or sold a home five times. There was a moment in every one of those transactions where things went dark, so to speak, and my wife and I had no idea what was happening. One sale nearly fell through, and I had flashbacks to the housing-related trauma my family experienced.
In other words, the flaws in the real estate purchase process Bowles and his team are trying to address are real--and a tool that increases transparency goes a long way toward addressing a significant customer pain point.
With the importance of the housing market to the overall economy and the coming wave of first-time buyers (more than 66% of new home buyers are millennials), an innovation that makes purchasing a home more customer-friendly is bound to find a market--and bound to have a big impact on one of the country's most important economic sectors.