A local real estate startup that recently picked up some national press has secured an agreement with its hometown Realtors group.
Nestiny, a website for homebuyers and real estate agents, has struck a deal with the Central Virginia Regional Multiple Listing Service to provide member agents with discounted access to its platform and services.
Members will receive a 25 percent discount on Nestiny’s annual agent memberships, which typically range from $300 to $600.
While CVRMLS is managed by the Richmond Association of Realtors (RAR), the discount only applies to agents who are members with the MLS.
Nestiny was founded by Jody Clower, a licensed Realtor with Keller Williams Realty who set aside her real estate business to launch the site in 2014. In that time, she said the number of agents participating in the site has grown to about 200, up from about 50 a year ago.
The website, which provides educational tools for homebuyers and connects them with agents strategically when they’re ready to make a purchase, got a mention this week by The Huffington Post as one of four technology companies revolutionizing the way consumers make purchases. The two-year-old startup was mentioned first on the list.
Clower said Nestiny aims to assist agents with maintaining a digital presence while helping homebuyers and sellers educate themselves about the process, then connect the two when at the appropriate time.
“We’re trying to elevate the digital presence of agents and make it easy for them to be more relevant online. They’re all struggling with it in many different ways, and RAR recognizes this as well,” Clower said.
“We’re going to be doing joint training workshops with them to get agents on board and onto Nestiny,” she said.
While comparable services exist – Napier Realtors ERA recently acquired ZipRealty’s “Zap” Internet platform that similarly tracks potential buyers’ interest in certain properties – Clower said a difference with Nestiny is that it is unaffiliated with a brokerage.
“We’re really agnostic on brokerage,” she said. “Any agent can sign up on Nestiny.”
“By hooking their wagon to us, in essence, we can help all those individual agents out there who can’t compete with the big portals and all these other people that spend tons of marketing dollars,” she said.
Kelsey Croston, who handles digital communications for RAR and CVRMLS, said Nestiny has been on the association’s radar for some time.
“We’re one of the first associations to have an in-depth conversation directly with the owner about what she’s trying to accomplish, so we wanted to take advantage (of that) and get that to our members,” said Croston, stressing that Clower is not an active agent and that Nestiny is not affiliated with any particular brokerage.
“Nurturing tools for helping Realtors get in touch with their clients and prospects when they need to at the right time is something that we hear is a struggle with their busy schedules, so this is something we wanted to put in front of our members as a good way to help with that process,” Croston said.
Clower, who leads a staff of five that’s about to grow to six, said the arrangement is the first of what she hopes will become many MLS partnerships. She said she is working on other similar setups as well while spending the past year focusing on product development and customer outreach.
She said she’s also in talks with potential investors while maintaining her relationship with Frank Rotman, an angel investor and founding partner of QED Investors who originally backed the venture.
Note: This story has been revised to clarify that the Nestiny agreement is with CVRMLS and does not apply to RAR members who do not use the MLS.