Technology-First Brokerage Prevu Is More Than Its Message: Tech Review

Prevu is a real estate buyer solution with a tech-forward, high-touch approach to working with customers. It uses salaried agents and customer concierge staff to assist buyers with its branded property search, market questions and offer submission.

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Prevu is a salaried brokerage backed by a digital homebuying solution to empower buyers.

Platforms: Browser
Ideal for: Agents considering new brokerages, homebuyers

Top selling points:

  • Focus on buyer agency
  • Multiple collaboration channels
  • Branded search
  • Included offer submission
  • Customer concierge

Top concern:

While tech-centered, Prevu is a brokerage. Its model is unique but might face scaling issues without a mechanism for taking on listings.

What you should know

Prevu is a brokerage, but its prominent use of technology warrants a review of how it delivers service.

Prevu is a real estate buyer solution with a tech-forward, high-touch approach to working with customers. It uses salaried agents and customer concierge staff to assist buyers with its branded property search, market questions and offer submission.

This is a challenging company to write about because of its multiple value propositions to the industry. As of now, it leads with buyer rebates and low commissions. In that respect, it’s the same sort of “look at what you can save” argument as IdealAgent and Redfin.

Although saving money will always appeal to consumers, it doesn’t resonate with those who automatically see “savings” as another term for limited service. That unfortunate stigma is even more pronounced in real estate, thanks largely to FSBO firms and other alternatives that sell a-la-carte listing marketing services.

But, while Prevu may be a brokerage at heart, its the technology that makes things pump.

The company leans heavily on buyer service, aiming to provide a more modernized, less paper-driven user experience. Although the team at Prevu describes its approach as similar to Expedia and Carvana, to me, it’s closer to the consumer insurance industry’s move to shed its suit-and-tie, bureaucratic reputation with online quotes, service and mobile experiences.

Prevu spreads its technology evenly between buyers and the teams serving them. Collaboration is primarily chat- and email-driven. Buyers will work with both a concierge and an agent, the former elevating discussions to the latter as the relationship deepens.

Once onboard, buyers are offered access to Prevu’s collaborative search portal, from which they can save homes, ignore bad matches, request tours and submit offers via the “call-to-action” block, a section of features designed to engage users.

Every listing in Prevu’s search experience displays the potential rebate amount. The offer screen asks about funding source and down payment amount, and it encourages them to upload a qualification letter or some form of financial wherewithal. It’s not a “formal” offer; rather, like many other online-offer tools today, it’s designed to express legitimate intent. It also asks for a good time to schedule a conversation with an agent.

The benefit to agents who want to work with Prevu is that you are 100 percent focused on service. The company’s marketing will provide you with the clients, and you provide the wisdom.

Agent tools include a CRM module for viewing buyer profiles, property interest, budget, offers made, tours taken and all messages that have transpired since initial engagement, whether via text or email. (In many cases, this is all you need a CRM to do.)

Tours that get scheduled are routed to the listing agent on record, according to the local MLS data that Prevu uses as its property source. Calendar alerts are sent out, and for now, Prevu can integrate with ShowingTime.

Other features of note are a buyer document library, text-based onboarding and no formal representation agreement, as part of a deliberate approach to keep things low-pressure.

For now, Prevu is operating in New York, Connecticut, California, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Washington.

Many may read this review and think that most of what’s happening here has already been done. Agents use text. Redfin pays agents. Keller Williams says it’s a technology company.

Most of that is true.

But Prevu, along with a small but growing cadre of up-and-coming colleagues, are instigating fissures in the foundation of the traditional brokerage model. Note that I refuse to use the “D” word because to me that term signals naive haughtiness, an attempt to usurp for the sake of it.

Before you blow off that idea, know that 47 percent of brokers surveyed in NAR’s 2021 Real Estate in Digital Age report cited “competition from nontraditional market participants” as one of their biggest challenges in the next two years. Know too that Prevu has sold close to $1 billion to date and tripled its revenue year-over-year in 2021.

What I see in Prevu is an application of what its founders merely consider to be a better way to serve a consumer need. It’s simply what they know as a good business, a better way to provide value to homebuyers.

It should be noted as well that there is some Zillow and StreetEasy experience behind the company, so it’s not as if these guys came in from outside the industry.

The ultimate intent here is to automate as much of the buyer journey as possible without letting them put into the ditch. It’s more consultative than heavy-handed and lead-driven.

Is it the future of how real estate services are offered? That’s up to the consumers. Might want to think about that.

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.

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