Philadelphia-based real estate startup Houwzer, creators of a tech-enabled brokerage service, announced that it has plans to expand to two new markets and has just raised a $9.5 million Series A round of financing.
The round was led by Princeton, New Jersey-based Edison Partners, and previous investors Admiral Capital Group and real estate investor Ira Lubert also participated, the company said. (More on how CEO Mike Maher got that seven-figure “yes” from Lubert here). Additional new investors include Ben Franklin Technology Partners’ GO Philly Fund and Chestnut Street Ventures.
Houwzer will use the Series A to immediately expand to the Baltimore area as well as expand to Orlando over the next year. It will also grow its existing presence and teams in the Philly and Washington, D.C. regions.
“We’re really excited about what Houwzer has built and where the company is headed,” said Michael Kopelman, general partner at Edison Partners, in a statement. “I’m confident that Houwzer is positioned nicely to deliver on a differentiated customer service promise with its salaried labor model and tech-enabled platform.”
Houwzer offers and end-to-end home services tech platform and salaried agents, which allows them spend more time with the customer, the company said. Traditionally, agents would receive a 6% fee, but instead, Houwzer charges a flat $5,000 listing fee paid at closing plus 2.5% for the buyer’s broker. The company said this saves home sellers an average of $15,000 in commissions.
“Consumers continue to prefer human advisors, especially for a transaction this significant; but they also believe that advances in technology should translate into savings and a better experience,” Maher said in a release. “Our solution resonates because it puts the customer first — reducing chaos in the transaction without sacrificing service.”
Maher told Technical.ly that the addition of Greater Baltimore is an opportunity to augment the Philly and D.C. markets and continue to expand within the Northeast Corridor.
And when it comes to heading (much) further south?
“Orlando is about proving model in the [Sun Belt], hopping on an airplane (instead of train), and more flattened seasonality,” Maher said.
On Monday, the company opened an office at Betamore, located inside Port Covington’s City Garage. Along with Baltimore city, the company is also servicing Baltimore County, Howard County and Anne Arundel County.
The move will bring local hiring. Several real estate agents started taking clients this week, and the company is also hiring buyer’s agents, listing agents and an operations manager. Job openings are posted here.
In all, the team also plans to “double its workforce” in the next 12 to 18 months. It currently has about 80 employees between Philly and D.C, Maher said.
Houwzer was one of the first companies on the seventh floor of Benjamin’s Desk’s original Philadelphia location at 1701 Walnut St. (Benjamin’s Desk merged with D.C.-based 1776 in 2017.) Maher cofounded the company with his wife, Jenn Maher, in 2014, and handed full CEO control to her in May 2018.
Stephen Babcock contributed reporting.
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