In 2016, Kyle Stoner and best friend Carson Junginger were both having a hard time navigating the home-buying process. Between finding a realtor, finding a property and securing a mortgage, the two tech entrepreneurs realized that buying a home was too cumbersome and fragmented. And when they couldn’t find a single platform where they could manage all these separate tasks, they teamed up to create one — Abode.
“People often describe buying a home as the largest, most overwhelming, and stressful event that they have to do in their lives … And that’s because it’s manual. It’s fragmented,” Stoner, the startup’s co-founder and CEO said. “Something had to be built to make it easier for people to buy a home.”
Officially launched in 2017, Abode gathers all the things that home buyers and sellers need, including realtors, properties, mortgage companies inspectors and attorneys. The company, which was a member of the latest Techstars Chicago class and now works out of the accelerator at 1871, has quietly been planning its multi-city expansion, rounding up funding from firms like SoFi, and developing a new product that will launch in March 2018.
SoFi named Abode in its 2018 class of SoFi Entrepreneurs, the fourth cohort of startups which will receive mentorship and funding from the alternative lending startup, but Stoner declined to comment on whether SoFi is officially partnering with Abode in the future. Stoner said Abode is rolling out a new consumer product in March 2018, but declined to give further details.
“It’s far more feature-packed, and it makes it much easier for the consumer and the real estate agent,” Stoner said about the new product. “We built better tools for both the consumer and the real estate agent to collaborate in one place.”
Regarding its multi-city expansion, Stoner confirmed that the platform was expanding into Atlanta; Dallas; Fargo, N.D.; Los Angeles; Minneapolis and Tampa, Florida in 2018. Stoner said the firm is in the process of closing its investment round, but declined to confirm how much Abode has raised.
“What we’ve been doing for the past few months beyond just building the product out is beginning to lay the groundwork for expanding into these cities, and that does require regulatory work along with partnerships,” Stoner said.
The platform uses data analytics to pinpoint the best realtor to negotiate home sales as well as pair users with digital mortgage companies for each user’s situation. Doing so can save users around $10,000 or more, Stoner says, according to an internal analysis. While the platform is free for home buyers and sellers to use, Abode charges professionals on the platform between 25 and 40 percent of commissions, Stoner said.
The site currently has more than 6,000 professionals on the platform. Stoner declined to name the exact number of consumers on the platform, but said in a follow-up email that Abode “began closing transactions in the summer of 2017.” Using the web-based platform, users can enter information about the kind of home they’re seeking, their budget, their ideal neighborhood and other key factors for finding the right real estate professionals that can guide them through the process. They can also communicate with the professionals and manage documents on the platform, much like project management software but real estate specific, Stoner said.
“People are more willing to engage with real estate online. Part of what we’re engaging with is a macro trend around that, and that includes mortgages,” Stoner said. “What we’re trying to do is better integrate that whole experience.”