November 7, 2013

BuyerWire for tech-savvy Realtors, homebuyers

BuyerWire isn't for every real estate agent and homebuyer – just those who are tech-savvy and want to do business with similarly minded folks.

BuyerWire isn't for every real estate agent and homebuyer – just those who are tech-savvy and want to do business with similarly minded folks.

That's what Nathan Read and Jake Ramstack say about the app they developed and launched recently on Apple's App store.

The app lets homebuyers peruse home listings, contact a Realtor of their choice and send photos and other information back and forth as they search for the right property.

“For example, if you're at a home showing and see a kitchen you like, you can take a picture, tag a little note and say ‘I really like this style of house,’ and you can send that instantly to your Realtor,” Read said. “That's a big thing because what the homeowner says he wants and what the Realtor is hearing can often be two different things.

“For people living in a new city, they might be driving around town and drop a note saying, ‘I really like this neighborhood, can you tell me more about it?’”

Real estate agents can post photos of the home and other information on the site.

Read and Ramstack, who've been friends for years, bring different backgrounds to the enterprise. After graduating from Friends University, Read went to Barcelona to get a master’s degree in international business. With classmates, he developed a marketing app and eventually moved to Berlin, where the project ran out of money.

“It's already made a difference,” he said of that experience. “Just being able to understand some of the technical stuff. I think it's pretty easy to see that programmers and business minds don't always meet. Just having experience already has been a huge thing.”

Today he works full time in accounting for closeout wholesaler KMS, while Ramstack is an agent with Coldwell Banker Real Estate. When Read came up with the idea for BuyerWire, he turned to Ramstack for information about what would make it useful to agents like himself.

“We tried to make it Realtor-friendly, which is unlike any other app for Realtors, and also user-friendly," Ramstack said of the duo, who hired programmers to write the code.

Similar apps often contain outdated or erroneous information about properties, they said, as well as advertising paid for by Realtors. BuyerWire strives for accuracy and will carry customer ratings of Realtors, similar to Amazon.

Ramstack said buyers want to work with agents who understand current technology. “They're like, ‘I don't want to fax you something,’” he said.

As with most start-up apps, the trick to keeping BuyerWire in business will be finding ways to make money off it. It's free for homebuyers and currently costs participating Realtors $5 a month. One option for monetizing the site could be providing links to lenders who are clients.

Ultimately, the pair hope to expand BuyerWire across the country, where the numbers of Realtors would make profits possible.

“We're kind of incubating it in Wichita,” Ramstack said. “We want to make sure it's a good product.”

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