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Flyhomes acquires ZeroDown, launches AI-powered dwelling search portal

Seattle-based proptech company Flyhomes announced Tuesday that it has acquired the assets of startup ZeroDown and is launching an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered home search portal to bring “conversational real estate search and research to the market.“

Developed over the past two years, the newly rebranded Flyhomes portal is proprietary technology that was designed under the guidance of ZeroDown co-founders Laks Srini and Abhijeet Dwivedi, who have joined Flyhomes as chief technology officer and chief growth officer, respectively.

The platform is designed to greatly expand the amount of information that prospective homebuyers can find online. Flyhomes CEO Tushar Garg said in a news release that the timing of the launch coincides with the National Association of Realtorsrecent settlement regarding agent commissions, which has resulted in extensive changes that will go into effect on Aug. 17.

“Historically, buyers have had unlimited access to agents without ever needing to compensate them for their time,” Garg said. ”The settlement of the commission lawsuits mandates that buyers now sign a contract to compensate their agents directly before touring homes or even identifying potential properties.

“This barrier of signing a contract upfront will cause many buyers to delay reaching out to an agent, limiting their access to the information agents provide. This will create a massive friction in the market, and AI is reaching technical maturity at just the right time to be the solution.“

AI is quickly gaining momentum in the mortgage and real estate spaces. Last week, Keller Williams announced the launch of KWIQ, an agent assistant that can answer questions about various market trends and real estate topics. It can also draft content for newsletters, social media posts and listing descriptions, among other tasks.

Roof AI also recently announced that it is integrating OpenAI technology into its sales assistant using large language models.

Flyhomes has a stated goal to compete with the largest home search portals, including Homes.com, Realtor.com, Redfin and Zillow. Executives believe the firm can be successful in the “portal wars“ because it offers ”the best technology and deepest insights for consumers, not the biggest brand or the largest ad budget.”

Flyhomes is currently active in 28 states and Washington, D.C. — covering roughly 75% of the U.S. population — with plans to expand in the near future. Its search engine features hundreds of data points from more than 40 unique sources. It is able to access property records at the state, county and city levels, and it also draws from federal data through the U.S. Census Bureau, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

The firm explained that each dataset “has been carefully parsed, categorized and layered on top of the information provided by the multiple listing services (MLS) to create the richest set of housing data in real estate, with hundreds more data points than the next nearest competitor.“

The AI-driven portal allows consumers to ask many of the same conversational and nuanced questions that a local real estate agent might answer. Some examples are:

  • “Is this home a good deal compared to others in the neighborhood?”
  • “How does the job market here compare to other cities?”
  • “What are the best schools in the area?”
  • “How is T-Mobile’s coverage in this home?”

“Existing home search portals were built nearly 20 years ago and are intentionally designed to provide just enough information to generate a customer lead,“ Srini said. “We’ve taken a different approach, building a portal unlike anything else on the market, one that lets consumers have a conversation as though they’re talking to a local real estate agent.“

Dwivedi added that the technology is meant to supplement the work of agents rather than replace them.

“Buyer’s agents are still going to play an important role in the transaction, but you can’t ignore that the buyer-agent relationship is going to change after August 17th,“ he said. “No one knows exactly how buyers and agents will work together in this new world, but we do know consumers will need access to information and that agents will be under pressure to demonstrate value like never before.“

In October 2023, Flyhomes announced the launch of Partner Channel, which gives mortgage lenders and brokers access to a suite of products, include short-term bridge loans and a “buy before you sell” solution.

In January 2024, it opened a wholesale lending channel that allows business partners to leverage a wholesale product while remaining the originator of record. This allows them to take the loan application, submit it and earn compensation for the transaction.

ZeroDown launched in 2019 in the San Francisco Bay Area. Its sale-leaseback model was designed to remove the down payment and mortgage qualification obstacles for buyers. It received initial seed funding of $30 million, with OpenAI co-founder Sam Altman among the investors.

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