Hey, I'm Dan! I'm the CEO of Plus and a venture partner at Madrona. I write the DL, a newsletter about tech in the Pacific Northwest

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Seattle Tech Trends - What's Happening in Real Estate?

Every day on my way to work, I walk past a condo building where two-thirds of the units are listed on Airbnb. Many of the owners own multiple units, and while most HOAs prohibit short term rentals, the president of this building’s HOA owns three units and lists all of them on Airbnb. (An Airbnb calculator estimates a 1 bedroom unit in this building makes ~$50K in annual revenue)

Clearly there is a lot of interest in real estate in Seattle, and over the last decade, Seattle has become a major center of real estate innovation and investment, both in physical real estate and in real estate tech companies like Redfin and Zillow. Here are some of the trends we are seeing from local real estate tech startups:

Better Rental Management 💼

  • Vacasa, StayAlfred, and Domicile are hospitality tech brands that enter long-term leases and re-market properties on short-term rental sites
  • OYO isn’t a Seattle company, but they just expanded here and have a crazy story. Short version: six year old company, started by a 19 year old CEO, now the third largest hotel chain in the world

New Financing and Ownership Models 💵

  • Loftium offers customers discounted rent in exchange for managing an on-site Airbnb
  • Crowdstreet operates a marketplace for individuals to invest in commercial real estate projects

Next-Generation Transaction Services 🤝

  • JetClosing digitizes the home closing process through a mobile-first title and escrow service
  • FlyHomes is a fully-integrated digital brokerage that offers things like cash offers and sale guarantees

SaaS Platforms for Managers and Brokers 💻

  • Knock is a customer relationship management platform for multifamily property managers
  • Moxi Works is a set of software tools for residential brokerages that spun out of Windermere’s tech department

What are some of the common themes? The first generation of real estate companies like Zillow, Redfin, and Trulia made data accessible. The next generation of companies is using data, analytics, and workflow automation to make it easier to manage properties, close transactions, and find new customers.

And what’s next? Here are a couple of things I’d be excited to see:

Social products. Today, browsing Redfin is a solitary experience, but could it be more engaging if it had some of the social dynamics of a service like Houzz or Pinterest?

Better ways to use space. There are 8 parking spots for every car in the US. Is there a better way to use these temporary spaces? And for permanent spaces, is there a WeWork for chefs, for dentists, or for tutors?

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