Thomas Kutzman and Chase Marsh were no strangers to the real estate experience, but they always found the process somewhat unpleasant.
“Fees were too high and the whole process was very antiquated,” complained Kutzman. “We both bought and sold properties over the years, and we felt, ‘Why are we paying these fees?’ ”
“When we looked at how other technologies transformed several major industries, it was very clear that real estate was one of the next industries,” Kutzman added. “We wanted to create a platform based on what people are accustomed to today, which is to have more control over your experience and more transparency in the process. We wanted to bring that to the forefront, to the consumer. And by creating that digital experience, a person could buy a home or an apartment online and pass along a significant amount of savings, so we give back two-thirds of the commission we get from representing someone.”
In 2016, they launched Prevu as a customer-focused digital home buying platform. They opened their first brokerage in the New York metro area in 2017 and Connecticut in 2018. The choice of the neighboring markets for the debut was not arbitrary.
“When you think of real estate, this model works particularly well in high-priced markets where the savings are significant,” said Marsh, who is a Greenwich resident.
“On average, we’ve saved homebuyers $23,000 per transaction,” added Kutzman.
So, how does Prevu work?
“You sign up on the platform and are asked basic questions about size, the number of bedrooms, your budget and so forth,” said Marsh. “We populate the listings that meet your criteria. You have the ability to make an offer directly online or share listings with your agent or our concierge.”
“On every single listing, we show the anticipated commissioned rebate is on every property,” Kutzman added. “So, you know early in the process what you could receive as a rebate, assuming that it is a quote. From every listing, you can click a button to schedule a private showing. Every day, there are new property alerts. And every Friday, you get open-house alerts, so you don’t have to go jotting them down on pieces of paper. Everything is guided for you and there is also messaging on the platform. We are here to help with a zero-pressure environment.”
Marsh cited Prevu’s competition as a mix of old-school and cutting-edge rivals.
“We like to bucket our competition into traditional brokerages: Houlihan Lawrence, Douglas Elliman, etc.,” he said. “We sort of bucket into a second bucket of tech-enabled, like Compass.”
In September, Prevu closed on a $2 million seed funding round led by Corigin Ventures, a prominent seed-stage venture capital firm focused on companies in the real estate technology and consumer industries, including Compass.
“We’ve had our eyes on this space ever since we invested in Compass in 2012,” said Ryan Freedman, general partner at Corigin, who joined Prevu’s board of directors following the completion of the seed round.
“The traditional home buying process is ripe for change, as buyers are empowered now more than ever to take control into their own hands — especially when it comes to search and exploration,” he said. “Prevu has built an amazing brand around working with ‘smart buyers,’ and these consumers are thrilled to be able to put 2% of their purchase back into their pockets. We’re excited about partnering with Chase and Thomas and look forward to helping them build a very large business.”
Prevu is planning to expand its platform into the full home buying and homeownership experiences.
“This … will become a one-stop shop for homebuyers,” said Kutzman. “Brokerage is only one step that could include mortgage, title, moving, homeowner insurance. On our platform, we can layer in other services that become a seamless experience for the homebuyers.”
“When we look at this pie, we believe we have the ability to educate consumers,” stated Marsh. “Our biggest passion is saving people money.”