A home is one of the single most important purchases a person will ever make, but the truth is that most of us are seriously ill-equipped to make the most of that asset. Once the contract is signed and the deal is done, homeowners are on their own to make home finance decisions that can greatly affect their long-term wealth.
After taking a 10-year sabbatical from tech to launch his own real estate brokerage — and then working with Realtor.com to build out their search function — Ernie Graham, CEO and co-founder of Homebot, knows first-hand just how much actionable insight is missing from the homeowner experience.
“In the U.S., home equity accounts for 83 percent of the average homeowner’s wealth at retirement,” Graham said. “Not 401(k), not savings, not pension — it’s home equity. That’s the way you build wealth in America. The problem is you don’t get a lot of great advice after you close your home on how to build that home equity smarter or faster.”
That’s where Homebot comes in. Launched in 2015, Homebot is a customizable robot that acts as personal asset management advisor for the home — or rather, it empowers homeowners to become their own asset manager.
Each month, Homebot delivers a personalized report that tracks your home value, mortgages and market conditions, giving you advice about when to buy or sell your home, when to refinance, when to drop your mortgage insurance, how to save by strategically paying your principal payments, and even how much you could make if you rented your home on Airbnb.
But Homebot isn’t exactly marketing itself to homeowners. They sell their services to real estate agents and lenders as a way to keep customers engaged long after the sale is complete.
“Product marketing is dead,” Graham said. “Consumer empowerment is where it’s at.”
According to Graham, 70 percent of homeowners forget the name of their real estate agent 13 months after buying a home. Homebot provides a way for lenders and realtors to stay connected with clients in a meaningful way and drive referrals.
In lieu of the generic postcards or brochures realtors send after working with a client, the company sets homeowners up with a tailor-made Homebot account that checks in monthly, increasing engagement and building trust.
“When lenders and real estate agents use Homebot, they’re helping clients make good decisions, even when a commission check isn’t involved,” Graham said.
Looking to the future, Homebot is working to develop a version of its platform for renters, covering people before and after they own a home. The renters’ version will give users insight into the pros and cons of buying versus selling a home and help them determine when it’s the right time to pull the trigger.
“Our goal is that every household in the U.S should have Homebot. It’s a democratization of home finance. We’re distributing finance intelligence to turn every household in the U.S. into a wealth-building household.”