In the year By 2021, 6.9 million homes will be bought and sold in the US, according to Statista. Real estate transactions are highly administrative and technology makes them more efficient. The proptech industry – real estate technology is expected to grow from $18.2 billion in 2022 to $86.5 billion in 2032, according to Future Market Insights. Consumers want better home buying and selling experiences and more affordable payments.
Based on Lindsay McLean’s personal experience selling her Tribeca condo in 2013 and her professional experience as a software engineer and real estate developer, she knew there had to be a better way. In the year In 2015, she teamed up with real estate attorney and broker Jennifer Stein to build Homelister, an online home selling platform.
Surviving the legal challenge before it started made them resilient to future obstacles like the pandemic. Finding supportive value investors can also help weather challenges.
As a software developer, McLean caught fire in the tech industry during the dot-com bubble. She attended the University of Pennsylvania for her undergraduate degree and returned to earn an MBA in Real Estate Development from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. After graduating, she started a real estate development company, but business faltered during the 2007-2009 financial crisis. In 2013, McLean sold the company.
In the year In 2013, she sold her condo in Tribeca, New York. She used a broker because she had never been to a real estate broker. However, she did a lot of work researching what to price the apartment, making sure the apartment was good, and coordinating schedules with agents. The condo was sold in four days. Because the buyer did not use a broker, McLean’s agent received the full 6% commission, which is usually split between the buyer’s and seller’s agents. “That’s crazy,” McLean said.
It was born out of McLean’s frustration with working eight-hour shifts for her real estate agent, paying her six figures and preparing for her next move, either buying or selling a house, showing residential listings and paperwork. “I was shocked to find there was no good solution,” McLean grumbled.
“Real estate works differently everywhere,” McLean said. “It’s very complicated.” With her experience building complex e-commerce systems and real estate development, she envisioned a platform that could automate administrative tasks and provide expert assistance in pricing.
While McLean was doing research on the business idea, she was also acting as a consultant. She met Jennifer Stein in one of the categories. They beat him. Stein’s experience as an attorney and real estate broker focused on interstate compliance complements McLean’s. “There are very few people in the 42 states who understand real estate,” she said. “Jennifer did.”
In 2015, the couple began working together on HomeLister. McLean is the founder and CEO, and Stein is the founder and general counsel. The unique expertise of both the founders made them a very credible founding team and they were able to raise seed capital from investors in the real estate industry.
In the year In 2016, while the couple was preparing to launch HomeLister, they were sued by a NY real estate company. As they fought the case, the group blacked out the company.
Having the right lawyers from the get-go probably would have nipped the case in the bud, but hindsight is 20/20. Unfortunately, the original legal team took a conciliatory approach and did not push back against the real estate firm that presented on HomeLister. If an opponent is unreasonable, it is better to have lawyers to push back.
As the case progressed, the two attorneys switched to more aggressive attorneys with trial experience. It took almost two years before the charges were dropped.
Most importantly, not only did their investors stand by and advise them, but some even helped fund legal fees. McLean did due diligence before accepting capital from investors. Screening involves talking to portfolio companies that have been through tough times to determine if the investor is stuck with the startup.
HomeLister was founded in 2010. Launched in 2018. The market was ripe for a service that was easy to use, had a low price you only paid when you sold your home, and included professional help. The sale has begun until stay-at-home orders are issued as Covid-19 begins to spread. People had health concerns and were unsure about the economy, and the real estate market froze.
After surviving the lawsuit, McLean and Stein discover they can outrun the plague. As it turned out, the real estate industry quickly recovered. As everyone goes online to do everything from food shopping to healthcare, adoption of HomeLister’s online model has increased.
The startup recently raised a $10 million Series A round led by M13 and Homebrew. This round brings the total amount HomeLister has raised to $16.5 million.
How did you overcome the challenges you faced?