When I bought my house a couple of years ago, the first thing my wife and I did was invest more money in it. So we fixed the things that were in the inspection report, and started some small projects that helped us settle in — and feel like our new house was our own.
Turns out we were just like every other new homeowner. According to a 2015 study from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, the average homeowner spends $2,500 on home improvement projects and maintenance in the first year of their residence. HomeKeepr’s homeowners spend well over $3,500.
But that number isn’t the whole story; over time, homeowners spend up to one percent of the cost of their home annually on home maintenance, remodeling, and other improvement projects. Even when people are about to sell, they invest up to $8,500 to get their homes ready for sale.
Owning a home is, apparently, an invitation to spend money. In my own case, we beat the average, spending thousands more on painting, landscaping and other improvements.
Yet the hardest part of buying a house is finding the people to help along the way. As first time homeowners, we didn’t have a network of contractors, vendors and service people to help. So we called our REALTOR — because she knew everyone in town.
And that was the genesis of HomeKeepr. All three of us — me, Saro Cutri and Dave Weinstein — bought homes within months of each other. We were all new homeowners, fresh off living in apartments in New York City. We didn’t know anyone. But our REALTORS always did.
Then we had another realization. The contractors and vendors our REALTORS recommended were the people we wanted to work with, because they were recommended by someone we knew and trusted. What’s more, the contractors and vendors they recommended were the people that were always hardest to find.
Our REALTORS recommended sole proprietors and tiny service providers who came on time, stuck to budgets and were generally not savvy marketers. The folks we met through our REALTORS were craftsmen and professionals who were focused on doing good work for people that came to them through referrals.
It’s also interesting to note that this type of sole proprietor represents more than 70 percent of all home service contractors.
What’s more, even after providing so much service to us as we bought our homes, our REALTORS did exactly what seven in 10 agents do: they fell out of touch. We never heard from them again.
That’s when we thought: HomeKeepr. It was clear that there was an enormous opportunity to connect homeowners to the professionals they need and want to work with — and along the way, help REALTORS and other professionals stay in front of their clients in a meaningful way.
HomeKeepr works because it only allows people on the platform who have been referred. Homeowners receive an invitation; REALTORS refer their favorite contractors, vendors and other home service professionals; and the local service providers who get referrals from HomeKeepr know that they’re getting a warm referral.
It’s a virtuous and friendly ecosystem that benefits everyone.
Over the coming months, you’ll see a great number of product enhancements and new partners coming to HomeKeepr. Our latest enhancement, product manuals and receipts, promises to make it easy for homeowners to keep track of major expenditures, warranties and manuals — and we expect it to be an indispensable tool for insurance purposes.
We’re excited about the future, and can’t wait to share it with our friends in real estate, home services and other professional service organizations, including mortgage and insurance companies.
Though we’re growing quickly, with almost 50,000 agents and over 1.5 million recommendations, we’ll always stay true to our mission: to connect homeowners to the people who can help them settle in to their homes. We’ve built the app and platform we wish we had had when we bought our houses.
As always, please let me know your thoughts about our platform and plans. We can’t wait for what’s next.