December 1, 2021

McKenzielee Blog

Wicked Clever House Experts

Place Is the Latest Real Estate Company to Reach Unicorn Status

3 min read

Real estate technology and agent services company Place announced in a press release that it has secured $100 million in a round of Series A financing.

The funding, led by a division of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, with participation from 3L Capital, results in Place achieving “unicorn status,” a modern euphemism for private companies valued at or more than $1 billion.

Funding will be used to further the company’s general expansion, including recruitment and onboarding of agent teams and ongoing technology investments, according to the release.

Place is not a brokerage, despite being founded and led by two well-established real estate brokers, Ben Kinney and Chris Suarez.

The company offers business infrastructure support to targeted, high-producing agents, ranging from accounting to marketing, transaction and CRM technology products. It helps agents with hiring and retention, strategy, policy implementation, legal matters and in essence, any aspect of the many business dealings that traditionally restrict the pace of growth.

Customers of Place don’t have to switch brokerages or commit to work for anyone else, it is “brokerage agnostic.”

Place works with agents in more than 100 markets in the United States and Canada, focusing heavily on the top 20 percent in each.

“The top 20 percent of agents in any market serve the vast majority of consumers that need to buy, sell, or invest in real estate,” said Kinney. “Those top agents are our customers. We help them solve the problems that are holding their businesses back, [such as] finding and hiring talent, retaining their top producers, implementing technology and systems, increasing per-agent productivity, and driving business growth and profitability.”

Place also offers mortgage, title and escrow services, according to an Inman report.

Place was conceived in 2020. Agents working with Place operate under a tiered sales system, earning Place “titles” and access to additional services, such as retirement planning and healthcare, according to volume. Titles run from “associate” all the way to “equity partner.”

The bundled services model is growing quickly across the industry, particularly as large players, such as Knock, Compass and Side combine buying and selling representation with team expansion services, marketing strategy, financing, home remodeling and post-sale home management services.

In a phone call with Inman, Chris Suarez likens Place to an MSP, or managed services provider, a model that’s been proven in other industries. An MSP provides all the framework, technology and business expertise new or growing companies need to augment revenue and better provide for customers. They’re popular in medical fields, such as dentistry.

“We look at ourselves as an operating system for the real estate industry,” Suarez said. “Why we believe this solution for the industry is an important one, is that businesses in those other industries [using MSPs]  have loyalty ratings 7 times that of a real estate agent, which is 13 percent. When all of the services are under one platform, the consumer has a better experience, the loyalty gap shrinks.”

Technology provided to Place partners is rooted in Brivity, a solution devised by Kinney under another of his companies. It offers the full gamut of agent business tools, including customer relationship management, IDX websites, buyer lead capture, print and digital collateral and ad creation, as well as transaction management.

On the consumer side, buyers and sellers can access home search tools, a transaction portal, home valuation tools and mortgage calculators, among other features.

“We believe Place is a friend of the brokerage, we can be an incredible retention tool,” Suarez said. “We can keep top teams growing.”

Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe

Craig C. Rowe started in commercial real estate at the dawn of the dot-com boom, helping an array of commercial real estate companies fortify their online presence and analyze internal software decisions. He now helps agents with technology decisions and marketing through reviewing software and tech for Inman.


https://www.inman.com/2021/11/17/place-is-the-latest-proptech-company-to-reach-unicorn-status/

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