Houwzer, a Philadelphia-based home brokerage that charges sellers a flat $495 fee, says it has raised $2 million in start-up "seed" capital from investors.
The firm, started by Mike Maher, cofounder of the Benjamin's Desk "co-office" leasing company, says it collected its $495 listing fee for about 75 homes last year and plans to triple sales this year. It is also used by purchasers.
"We have another 75 deals where we represented the buyer at an average of $10,000 in buyer agent commissions" each, cofounder Kevin Baird told me.
Houwzer claims 35 fulltime agents and other employees. It says it will use the cash to expand its Walnut St. office, add customer-experience software and expand into a second metro market.
Seed investors include Homebuilder.com cofounder Jay Minkoff, a Penn MBA and real estate investor, who is also Houwzer's chairman and operating partner; the StartupPHL Angel Fund; and the state-backed Ben Franklin Technology Fund, among others.
The company lists rivals such as ForSaleByOwner.com and Housepad.com, and promises a lower seller fee, plus home photos, video, lockbox, and other services it says are typically offered by full-service brokers, but not by other home seller listing services.
Maher is a U.S. Naval Academy graduate. He holds an MBA from the real estate program at Villanova's DiLella Center.