Seasoned real estate entrepreneur joins Houwzer as chairman, lead investor and operating partner.
Houwzer is proud to officially introduce Jay Minkoff to the team. As the first outside investor in Houwzer, Jay has led the way for other investors, including $200,000 from Ben Franklin Technology Partners.
Jay is Chairman of the board and also serves as an operating partner involved in various day-to-day roles including marketing, fundraising, and business development.
I sat down with Jay to learn more about why Houwzer and why now.
(Krystal Eason) Why invest in Houwzer?
(Jay Minkoff) After mentoring Houwzer’s founders, Mike Maher and Kevin Baird, over the past two years, I have become convinced of the effectiveness of Houwzer’s business model and the quality of the team they have put together. What makes this business model so successful is that it disrupts residential real estate brokerage based on providing higher quality service at a substantially lower cost.
What most impressed me about Houwzer is how coachable the company’s two founders were combined with their ability to build a great team. At 34, Mike Maher has successfully launched several successful businesses including co-working space provider Benjamin’s Desk. His training at the US Naval Academy, his service in the Navy, and an MBA from Villanova have provided Mike with an unbeatable skill set to lead the company.
Kevin, as a recovering attorney and successful home builder, brings significant expertise and insights to the company as Chief Business Officer. Together, they have de-risked the business while bootstrapping it out of their own pockets and proved the efficacy of the business model.
It is my honor to join this team as an investor and operating partner to help accelerate the company’s growth.
(KE) How do you see Houwzer changing real estate?
(JM) The residential real estate market has typically charged 6% in commissions to a homeowner to sell their home. Half of this commission, 3%, went to the listing agent. With the advent of residential real estate technology and listing sites such as Zilliow, Trulia and Realtor.com it takes much less effort and expense to list a home for sale.
Using data driven competitive market analysis, professional photography and video, targeted direct mail, signage and open houses, Houwzer can list a home for $495, rather than charging sellers the traditional 3%. It just doesn’t cost that much to effectively sell a home and Houwzer doesn’t believe sellers should have to pay for overpriced listing services.
While traditional residential real estate agents are commission motivated independent contractors, Houwzer’s buyer agents are salaried professionals who specialize in finding homebuyers the perfect home while not having the conflict-of-interest of being paid based on the home’s price. Each Houwzer agent is trained in best practices to provide their buyers with the highest quality service available. The net result is that Houwzer’s home buying clients receive a superior end-to-end experience.
Significantly better service at a dramatically lower cost is how Houwzer is revolutionizing the way homes are bought and sold.
(KE) What in your background makes you an asset to Houwzer?
(JM) I am a successful real estate entrepreneur who has developed new methodologies for marketing residential real estate. Over the past 33 years, I have sold or financed over a quarter billion dollars of real estate and started three real estate marketing businesses. I am also a third-generation commercial real estate developer and manager.
I revolutionized new home and apartment advertising in the mid-80’s with the NewHomes Guide and Apartment Shoppers Guide glossy color magazines and my publishing company, Tri-State Publishing and Communications, was recognized as one of the fastest growing companies in the country on the Inc. 500 List in 1990.
Realizing that real estate agents required updated information about available new home communities which were not previously available on Multiple Listing Services such as TREND, I co-created a solution for home builders called NewHome Search Systems. Combined with a printed directory for each agent and high-end technology for the time, NewHome Search became the MLS for New Homes.
With the introduction of the web in the mid-90’s, I co-founded the first consumer website listing new homes directly to consumers, HomeBuilder.com. We provided the same information about new home construction previously available only to real estate agents directly to internet connected consumers. As the official website of the National Association of Home Builders, HomeBuilder.com became a national business which was sold to Homestore.com (now Move.com) in 1999.
After the sale, I stayed on at Homestore.com as VP of Strategic Initiatives and created the first consumer listing website for manufactured housing, which was the official website of the Manufactured Housing Institute. In addition, I was instrumental in having HomeBuilder.com become the country’s largest developers of websites for home builders.
(KE) Thanks for your time, Jay. We look forward to working with you!
(JM) No problem, I’m excited to be a part of the Houwzer Team.