(Photo by Juliana Reyes)
Matt Einheber speaks the language of land records.
Einheber, 39, of Center City, has been running a title insurance company for the last decade, so he’s a pro at decoding that kind of city data, like insurance commitments for a title policy.
“It’s a hideous document,” he said, talking about those insurance commitments. “You’d die. It’s the most un-userfriendly thing you’ve ever seen.”
But Einheber knows how to read them and translate them into value for real estate investors.
That’s the idea behind his new startup, Brixsy.
Brixsy uses city data — like property taxes, death records and property violations — to give real estate investors a better picture of a seller, arming them with information that can help them at the negotiation table and make sure the deal doesn’t fall through late in the process. Did the seller inherit the property because a family member just died? Does the property have a bunch of liens on it?
“It’s a sea of incredibly valuable information,” Einheber said about city records. It’s just a matter of interpreting it.
Brixsy is one of the few startups we’ve seen that are taking advantage of Philly’s open data. Maybe more will follow suit?
Not all the data Brixsy uses is available in a format that’s easy to pull into an app, like property tax balance data, a dataset that has been highly sought after and has caused drama in the Nutter administration. Einheber declined to comment on how his company accesses property tax balance data.
Former Philadelphia Chief Data Officer Mark Headd, who lobbied hard for the city to release property tax balance data in an machine-readable format (API), said companies like Brixsy show that there’s a high demand for city property data and that this data tangibly affects new apps and services.
“That’s a huge validation of the city’s open data efforts,” Headd wrote in an email.
The service offers some data for free (much of what you can get on the city’s website but all in one place and with a nicer interface) and other data, like mortgages and judgments, for a $35 fee. Brixsy employs title examiners to produce those reports.
The company launched a private beta in September, focused on Philly, and now has paying customers, Einheber said.
His big vision is that the company becomes a one-stop shop for real estate investors, where customers can apply for loans, order title settlements and find properties to buy.
Einheber runs Brixsy out of the same Manayunk office where his title company Vista Abstract is located. Nine people are working on Brixsy right now, including the folks at Media Bureau, a Center City digital agency that built the Brixsy platform.