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A survey conducted by Homes.com last year found that four out of 10 Americans said that buying a home is the most stressful event in modern life. An even larger percentage said they felt nervous throughout the process, and a third of them even admitted to being reduced to tears at one point. That does not point to a system that is working well for anybody.
Curbio, a home renovation technology company, wants to take at least some of the stress out of that process, and it does this by helping both realtors and their clients prepare their homes for sale so they sell faster, and for more money.
"Home sellers lose billions in equity every year, selling homes in less than ideal condition, for below top market prices. Most people know that a move-in ready property will sell faster and at top market prices – yet many homeowners still sell to a flipper or bargain hunter for a much lower cash price. Why? They simply don’t have: one, the cash; two, the time; or three, the expertise to renovate before selling," Rick Rudman, President and CEO of Curbio, told me.
"Curbio removes all these roadblocks, to unlock the full profit potential for every selling homeowner. We essentially help selling homeowners 'flip their own home' and keep the profit for themselves."
The company provides what it calls a turn-key design-build service focused on increasing list price and profit, with a sales and production team that is made up entirely of people with experience in this space: ex-realtors, flippers and project managers.
"Underpinning our people and process is a proprietary technology platform that ensures competitive pricing and a modern customer experience while reducing proposal and project times by over 60 percent. All of this is wrapped up in a very consumer friendly business model that defers 100 percent of the project cost until the home is sold. We’ve completely re-invented pre-sale renovation into a fast, professional, stress free and profitable process," said Rudman.
On Friday, the company announced that it raised a $7 million in Series A funding, co-led by Camber Creek and Brick & Mortar. With this new funding, the company has now raised a total of $13.6 million.
Founded in late 2017 by Rudman and Matt Siegal, Curbio is not a handyman service or a service for homeowners just looking to clean the home and paint a couple walls,; it is designed for larger, more expensive projects that will have a material impact on the selling price of a house. The typical customer is anyone selling a home that is at least 10 to 15 old, where updating or renovating will increase the home value by at least $25,000.
Customers can range anywhere from those selling homes for $200,000 to over $2 million, or those doing projects from $15,000 to over $200,000 and almost every type of renovation service.
"Our value is updating homes to increase the sales price and put more money in the sellers pocket. If the home is already up-to-date and simply needs a little painting and cleaning it is probably not a good fit," Rudman explained. "Every project we do has a business case that is expected to generate a profit for the homeowner. We also do everything else that might be needed to get a home to market including landscaping, roofs, HVAC, mold remediation, water damage, decks, exterior work and other specialty work."
Curbio provides a pricing database, which uses national cost and list price data regionalized for specific cities to ensure that homeowners are getting a fair price for the work the company does. It also can show buyers an online walk-through which lets the company use a 3D interactive video of the home interior to take measurements. It also has a live project portal which lets the homeowner, realtor and project manager exchange notes, videos, pictures, timeline updates and other information all online, in real-time on any device.
To date, Curbio's projects have delivered an average return on investment of between 175 percent and 200 percent for its customers. So, for example, if Curbio were to do a project for $60,000, then the listing price will go up by an average of $100,000 to $120,000.
"If you consider that the average home flipper makes $60,000 in profit, this makes a lot of sense. Of course this is the average. On the low end we’ve seen customers walk away with less profit but a much faster home sale. On the high end we’ve seen home sellers literally walk away with hundreds of thousands in increased profit. These are hard numbers based on as is prices, project costs and actual final home sale prices. In fact, Curbio is now the only company that has actual real-time data that shows what specific pre-sale renovation projects are returning," Rudman said.
Curbio is growing quickly, having already see the number of projects it's working go up 650 percent in the second quarter of this year versus the same quarter last year.
The new funding round will be used to build out its technology, with a focus on its contractor bidding platform, its supply chain automation and its quality control systems. The most innovative of these modules, according to Rudman, is the Bid Down Platform, which will be launched sometime this quarter.
"Our proprietary bid platform will allow approved contractors to bid on projects already won by Curbio or even take the job with our 'buy now' option. Unlike matching services that supply contractors with leads, Curbio offers up paying jobs. And there is no marketing fee for the contractor and no competition if they select the 'buy now' button. Contractors love this because they can buy jobs based on downtime in their schedule, go perform the work and get paid in 48 hours. For Curbio this ensures a large and high quality network at very competitive prices," he said.
The funding will also go toward expanding Curbio to new cities; it currently serves the District of Columbia and surrounding suburbs of Maryland and Virginia, Greater Baltimore, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, Orlando and the Greater Philadelphia and South Jersey metropolitan region. The company plans to complete over 1,000 renovation projects in 2020, while doubling city expansion in 2020 and 2021.
Curbio's main competition in the market right now are just a few small mom and pop contractors "that have combined an exclusive focus on pre-sale renovation with the technology and pay at closing model that Curbio has," said Rudman.
"We do compete with alternative options for the home seller which for now includes either selling as is to a cash buyer, using a traditional general contractor or possibly using a 'concierge' type service that some brokerages offer, which is really just a partial financing solution. Other than selling as is, the homeowner will still have all the problems associated with traditional home renovation – most contractors are not flipping experts, the renovations take a long time, the homeowner or agent spends a lot of time selecting and buying materials, and the contractors don’t have 'skin in the game' because they don’t have to wait until the home is sold to get paid."
In the end, the main goal behind Curbio is to "completely re-invent pre-sale renovation to help home sellers make more money."
"We do not work directly with homeowners and instead want to partner with realtors to offer this service to their clients and alleviate the headache of trying to be a project manager instead of a real estate agent. Success will look like the largest home renovation company with projects in 200 cities and a brand that promises professional and hassle free renovations that deliver more profit to home sellers."
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