Offerland wants to create transparency in the housing market by empowering customers through data and insights
American real estate startup Zillow turned many heads on this side of the border when its Zestimate tool—which allows users to see the predicted value of homes—launched in Canada in 2018.
Vancouver-based company Offerland is hoping for a similar result with its Zestimate-like tool, OfferValue. The company has partnered with two real estate listing portals (Fisherly and BCCondosAndHomes) to get OfferValue in front of more eyeballs.
Offerland is a data company, according to CEO and cofounder Hamidreza Etebarian. “We’re not trying to be Zillow,” says Etebarian, “We sell our data to companies like Zillow.”
Using their machine algorithmic-based projection models, users are given a market value of their homes, judge whether certain real estate is worth investing in, and learn how much rent they can ask for, from an “unbiased third-party,” says Etebarian.
Etebarian is also quick to point out that Offerland is not a listing portal, even if its marquee product, OfferValue, is essentially a Canadian version of Zestimate.
OfferValue is a projection of how much a property is worth on the market based off a variety of data sources, including some “unconventional” ones like connectivity to public transport, traffic congestion, and distance from the beach.
The projected value is then tested against real sales that happen in the city, and the algorithm learns from errors if it makes them. All of this, Etebarian says, makes for a successful estimate each time.
“Our accuracy is at 96-plus percent,” he says, “which is six to seven percent more than our competitors.”
Users on Fisherly and BCCondosAndHomes can use the OfferValue tool on the platform for free, and Offerland receives an undisclosed percentage of the revenue generated on these platforms.
But real estate buyers and sellers aren’t their only customers. For the last two years, they’ve been selling their analysis to financial institutions.
“Banks use the home evaluation tool in their assessment and lending practices,” he says, “and we’re now working with three of the biggest financial institutions in Canada.” (Though Etebarian isn't naming names.)
Aside from OfferValue, the company has also launched OfferRent, which gives renters an estimated quote as well as a real estate investment tool called OfferVest, which allows users to identify properties that would make good investments according to Offerland’s projections.
In the projection, all costs, and expenses (including taxes, mortgages, utilities) are accounted for, and the estimate calculates whether a property will deliver a positive cash flow in the form of rent from the first month on the market.
“All property appreciates in five or 10 years,” says Etebarian, “but we want people to make money today, not five years from now.”
Interested parties can sign up to OfferVest for free today and receive information about investment deals in an email or text. Launched in April, Etebarian says the product has gained significant traction.
“We have 120 subscribers already,” Etebarian says of the platform’s growth, “and five of them bought property in the last month.”
Business is good across the board for OfferValue, says Etebarian, especially since the company currently only operates in B.C. and Ontario. B.C.’s real estate market in particular hit record sales in the month of March this year, before tapering off but Etebarian is unperturbed by what this slight cool down means for his company.
“Real estate is like food,” he says, “people always need a place to live.”