The transfer brings OJO Labs nearer to its acknowledged objective of aiding shoppers all through all the homeownership journey.
OJO Labs is ready to accumulate the Chicago-based fintech startup Digs, a transfer that may assist the Austin-based actual property expertise firm transfer nearer to its objective of serving shoppers by way of the whole lot of their homeownership journey. The phrases of the acquisition weren’t instantly disclosed.
“We’re assembling an end-to-end platform in order that we are able to actually stare at each client that we meet after which present a seamless path to engaging in no matter their objectives are round homeownership,” John Berkowitz, the CEO and co-founder of OJO Labs, instructed Inman.
“Whether or not that’s [helping them] discover the right residence on their very own time, discover probably the most reasonably priced residence, save probably the most cash on the house, get there as quick as attainable, discover the precise neighborhood. Everyone involves homeownership with a novel, very private set of objectives,” Berkowitz mentioned. “Our mission is to serve each single considered one of them.”
The corporate’s acquisition of real estate portal Movoto earlier this 12 months gave OJO — which was initially launched as an AI-powered private assistant to assist owners of their search — a stronger foothold within the search course of of shopping for a house. Buying Digs, which is a private finance startup, will get OJO in entrance of the patron earlier than the house search even begins.
Berkowitz believes the true property trade doesn’t at present serve shoppers that prime up the funnel, particularly first-time homebuyers and people who don’t have a household historical past of homeownership.
There are at present two giant holes within the trade for serving shoppers, in line with Berkowitz, the primary of which is solely that they don’t know the place to begin. Customers usually don’t understand how a lot shopping for a house actually prices or how a lot they want for a downpayment. Digs provides them these instruments, Berkowitz mentioned.
“The trade immediately simply type of neglects you and spits you out if that’s the way you are available in,” Berkowitz mentioned. “When you fill out a type on a portal and discuss to an actual property agent or a mortgage officer and say, ‘I don’t know the place to start, I don’t understand how a lot cash I would like,’ they principally neglect you and homeownership is out of attain.”
When you lastly do buy a house, everybody disappears and you’ve got an asset value a ton of cash that’s not straightforward to handle and no instruments that will help you handle that asset, Berkowitz defined.
“We’re not going to let a single client fall by way of the cracks,” Berkowitz mentioned. That’s the objective of OJO — to actually remove the limitations that stand in the way in which of a profitable residence journey.”
“I feel you’ve gotten this good synergy between Digs and OJO as a result of they’ve been targeted very thoughtfully on the identical pragmatic, resourceful manner that OJO approaches issues in these two areas that we’ve all the time identified our shoppers wanted assist with, however we haven’t made progress on but.”
Digs is an FDIC-insured fintech platform that helps shoppers set and monitor financial savings objectives, in addition to study concerning the homebuying course of and obtain steerage all through all the journey. Customers can join the platform to their checking account to supply real-time steerage and perception. With the acquisition, Digs shall be built-in into the OJO Labs platform.
Digs was based in Chicago in 2018 and boasts a three-person crew, led by Pat McLoughlin, its co-founder and CEO. He based the platform as a result of he observed the true property trade was so “transactionally targeted,” he instructed Inman.
“That comes on account of the truth that the house is the most important transaction of somebody’s life and there’s a lot cash tied to it from totally different suppliers,” McLoughlin mentioned. “However the actuality is, it’s not simply the most important transaction, it’s the most important asset, it’s the most important debt and the most important expenditure as nicely.”
“We targeted outdoors the transaction for the final 12 months and a half, figuring out that there was worth there,” McLoughlin added. “Once we met OJO, they’d all of the items that allowed us to attach what we had been engaged on to the transaction.”
It’s been a busy 12 months for OJO Labs, which acquired actual property search portal Movoto recent off the heels of a $62.5 million debt and fairness fundraising spherical in June.
Final month, the corporate introduced the launch of an unique referral community the place it plans to work with the highest actual property brokers within the nation.
The corporate additionally partnered with actual property holding firm big (and OJO Labs investor) Realogy to build the corporate’s buyer relationship administration software and consumer-facing web sites, in addition to a lead conversion tool.