Although rating goods and services of nearly every stripe has become pretty much a given in today’s multimedia landscape, one sector has escaped such scrutiny: real estate agents.
Until two weeks ago, that is, when LeedMee officially launched.
“You go on Yelp and see every retailer rated and ranked and on Travelocity and Priceline you’ve got every hotel and airline,” said Jeff Dyment, LeedMee founder and managing partner. “Before you spend $5,000 on a trip you’re constantly looking at reviews. But for what’s the largest financial transaction in the lives of most people, they end up selecting an agent by word of mouth or a sign on the road. I thought there had to be a better way to get a more reliable solution and a more pleasant experience.”
A longtime entrepreneur whose resume includes stints as founder/CEO of Vencast, the first online distribution business for funds and fund marketing, and as CEO of Fitmoo, an online social platform and marketplace for the fitness industry, the Fairfield resident threw himself into six months of researching and developing LeedMee.
The online service, currently available only in Fairfield County, provides home sellers with scorecards or comparative resumes for each of the 5,000-plus licensed agents statewide. Information is gathered from a number of different databases, organized and packaged into an easily digestible format to allow homeowners to select their agent and agency with unbiased data that includes each agent’s number of listings and demographic area of expertise, conversion rates, average sale price, average days on market, sales per square foot and sales/listing prices.
And, as opposed to services like Zillow, these rankings are touted as being unbiased, provided as they are by the LeedMee team and not consumers.
“I probably ended up researching and analyzing around 62,000 transactions and 500,000 data points,” Dyment said. “The goal is to provide potential home sellers something beyond superficial information to dig down and see who’s the best salesperson for a particular listing, using the best quantitative and qualitative research available.”
The process takes the guesswork out of the selection process and instead relies on LeedMee’s data, math and scorecards to increase the odds that the owner can sell their home faster, for more money and more efficiently with the right representation, according to Dyment. Once the seller is interviewed by the LeedMee team, he or she is usually paired with an agent within 48 hours.
Eschewing advertising and paid search services to rely – so far – on word of mouth, Dyment said he’s already working with 10 customers throughout Fairfield County, including in Fairfield, Greenwich, Westport and Wilton. LeedMee does not accept solicitations, financial or otherwise, from agents to improve their rankings, he said.
LeedMee makes money only upon completion of a transaction, taking a portion of the agent’s commission that is determined up front. The benefit for the home seller is obvious, he said, “Ideally they sell their home with a minimum of worry and at no cost to them,” while the agent “walks away with a client for life.”
So far LeedMee has been funded solely by Dyment, though he said he is actively searching other investment opportunities, either through other entrepreneurs, equity crowdfunding platforms like WeFunder, or some combination thereof. He recently met with Connecticut Innovations to discuss financial support from the state of Connecticut for the endeavor’s next phase.
Composed of three employees, including Dyment, LeedMee is looking to add 20 employees in Fairfield County. Once the company is firmly established in the county, Dyment said he plans to expand it through the rest of the state and then begin exploring New York (including Manhattan, as well as Massachusetts and Florida.
As for the unusual spelling of the company’s moniker, Dyment said, “There’s really not much in a name on the internet. Yahoo, Google, Amazon … they’re not really very descriptive of what those companies actually do.”
“I wanted to come up with something memorable,” he added. “‘Lead Me’ was not an available URL, and it would have cost something like $20,000 to acquire it. So I decided that inventing a word was as good as grabbing an existing word, and for $9 was able to register and claim the LeedMee domain.”