This article originally appeared in The Coast News
A business idea so good that it improves the lives of everyone it touches doesn’t come to fruition every day. But it comes as no surprise that Jack Ryan, founder and CEO of REX Real Estate was able to make his dream come true.
His enthusiasm and passion for what he does is palpable. His business model is part humanitarian effort, part “Jetsons,” and is all about providing the best possible experience to home buyers and sellers.
Ryan’s career has had an unusual trajectory, to say the least. After 20 years as a partner with Goldman Sachs, he started a new chapter in his life when the company went public as a high school teacher in the south side of Chicago.
A chance conversation led him to realize that he didn’t need leave his entire career behind him to make the world a better place. After being a first round investor in many successful companies, REX Real Estate was born.
“I was intrigued by the idea that I could take the electronic space, and use it to build a business that could help create homes and schools for those who need it,” Ryan said.
“Our focus is that for every 50 homes we sell, we build one for a community that really needs it.”
REX Real Estate partners with a nonprofit organization called World Housing. “They are the boots on the ground, they work with local governments all over the world in dire need of housing,” Ryan said.
“Our first three homes have been in Cambodia. As we grow, we want to do this domestically and here in Southern California.”
The way Ryan and his team at REX Real Estate have been able to accomplish this is using a business model that not only has an immeasurable impact for communities in need but also immensely benefits consumers.
The innovation at REX Real Estate is that it takes complex technology and algorithms and uses them to create the simplest, easiest and fastest way to buy or sell a home. And as their tagline says, “Goodbye MLS. Hello REX.”
The traditional industry method of listing a property on the MLS is eschewed in favor of REX, a “platform and live, in-person service where homeowners list, discover and purchase homes from any device, anytime, anywhere — all without outrageous fees.”
REX Real Estate uses a data-driven formula to maximize the number of digital channels — including Zillow, Trulia, Google, Yahoo Homes, Facebook, Instagram and others — to publicize your home. This enables them to sell homes faster, and to have much lower fees.
“We charge half to 1/3 of what other agencies do,” Ryan said. “Other agencies take a huge chunk — 6 percent. Or firms say they only charge 1 percent, but they don’t tell you they add on top of that the 3 percent fee paid to the buyside agent. We charge 2 percent.
We use databases, not agents. We work smarter, faster and save our clients money.”
“To put it into perspective, when a home is priced at $500,000, our clients pay $10,000 versus the traditional commission of $30,000,” he added.
Residential real estate is the third largest market, and Ryan says $1.5 trillion and 6 million homes change hands every year. “Most people’s net worth is in their home,” he said. “So we want to give them the best experience possible.”
REX Real Estate helps its clients every step of the way. “We can help you with your mortgage, your home insurance, you don’t have to go through the bank,” he added. “We have the capability to help you with all that and make the transaction so much simpler.”
So how exactly does REX Real Estate work? “Ninety percent of what we do is done without humans,” Ryan said. “It is done very effectively with machine learning and artificial intelligence.”
REX Real Estate is able to target consumers based on their characteristics using algorithms. “Our computers are getting increasingly smarter every day through machine learning.
We know if a person may have turned into a homebuyer due to a recent activity in their life,” Ryan said. “While there is human involvement, such as to open a home for showing and to conduct home inspections, the rest is up to AI.”
Prospective home buyers especially enjoy having a robot on hand as they tour properties. “Our robot won’t follow you from room to room, but is there to answer all of your questions immediately. It can provide visual images and data on demand, without the imposing presence of an agent and it makes people feel comfortable and relaxed and saves them time.”
REX Real Estate homes track 15 to 20 percent lower time on the market. “If you want to put an offer on a home, all you do is tell us what you’d pay and submit our offer.
There is no need for a five-day process, looking over an 18-page contract. We are not going through agents to find buyers, and we talk to consumers directly.”
All of the back and forth between agents is obsolete with REX Real Estate. “Typically to even schedule a tour you talk to a buy-side agent, who then calls the sell-side agent, who calls the seller, and it goes back and forth before getting back to the buyer,”
Ryan said. “What we do is like Open Table online. We use texts and technology and take so many steps out of the process and it enables us to save consumers time and money.”
In the end, it’s about helping people, from consumers to communities. “Doing well for other people is what we are all about,” Ryan said. “We have passion and feel good about what we do.”