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Flyhomes buys tech from actual property startup backed by Sam Altman to gas AI house search device – GeekWire

Seattle startup Flyhomes is beefing up its real estate search capabilities with the acquisition of technology from ZeroDown, a San Francisco startup backed by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman that develops AI-fueled software for prospective homebuyers.

Flyhomes launched in 2016 and has focused on helping consumers toward the end of their homebuying journey. It offers a product that gives buyers faster upfront funding to sweeten their offers, and its Buy Before You Sell program lets sellers buy and move into their next home before selling their current property.

Now the company wants to reach consumers when they start their real estate search online. And it’s betting that AI can help.

Flyhomes traditionally hosted its own property listings but is now expanding in a big way by integrating ZeroDown’s database and home search technology. The revamped platform is now live across 28 U.S. states, and Washington D.C.

The deal with ZeroDown positions Flyhomes more directly in competition with fellow Seattle-based real estate companies such as Zillow Group and Redfin. The company’s site is now heavily geared toward the AI-enhanced search experience.

“We think the biggest friction for customers is information,” Flyhomes CEO Tushar Garg told GeekWire.

Founded in 2018, San Francisco-based ZeroDown originally set out to buy homes on behalf of homebuyers, then leased them back, essentially fronting the down payment.

Altman invested in a $30 million round in 2019, one of several startup investments made by the OpenAI chief.

But the company, a Y Combinator grad co-founded by former Zenefits execs, later pivoted to building an advanced home search portal powered by AI.

Flyhomes acquired ZeroDown in January and has spent the past several months integrating it into its broader platform.

“They have more data about a home than anybody else,” Garg said of ZeroDown.

The data comes from around 40 public sources, including U.S. Census information, along with multiple listing services (MLS databases).

In addition to granular information about a particular home — which direction the front door faces, details on lead paint, nearby daycares, wireless network coverage, etc. — Flyhomes now uses generative AI to answer questions from prospective buyers. The question-answer system is powered by OpenAI and other models.

Garg said it has a “super high” level of accuracy and compiles with the Fair Housing Act to ensure questions that would violate housing discrimination laws are not answered.

Redfin earlier this year rolled out a similar AI assistant tool that answers homebuyer questions.

Garg also pointed to tailwinds from the fallout of the National Association of Realtors commission lawsuit settlement — specifically how buyers must sign agreements with their agents at the outset of the homebuying process. It’s already a mandatory practice in some places, including Washington state, but will now be required more broadly.

That could lead buyers to find more information about a listing on their own — potentially driving traffic to a platform such as Flyhomes. The rule goes into effect August 17.

Flyhomes previously worked with its own representatives but is now partnering with outside loan officers and real estate agents, expanding its footprint across the U.S. It launched a “partner channel” in October to make its products available to third parties.

The company, ranked No. 45 on the GeekWire 200 list of top privately held Pacific Northwest tech startups, has raised $190 million in equity funding to date. It raised a $150 million Series C round in June 2021.

Flyhomes went through multiple rounds of layoffs over the past two years as the real estate slowdown impacted its business. In September it acquired assets from Home Sale Assured, a “buy before you sell” company, and acquired host-to-own platform Loftium in February 2023.

Flyhomes declined to disclose total headcount or revenue metrics.

Terms of the deal with ZeroDown were not disclosed. Flyhomes added 16 employees from ZeroDown as part of the deal, including ZeroDown co-founders Laks Srini and Abhijeet Dwivedi. Srini is now Flyhomes’ CTO; Dwivedi is chief growth officer.

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