Home-selling startup from Trulia founders wants to disrupt Charlotte real estate market

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A decade ago, Trulia and Zillow shook up the real estate market by shifting power to potential homebuyers.

A new startup called Knock — led by former Trulia founders — is now trying to create the same sort of shift for home sellers.

The company expanded to Charlotte last week and is leasing space in the Industrious coworking office Uptown.

With a fresh $33 million in Series A funding, the company has already begun poaching top Charlotte real estate agents for its platform and will soon begin major marketing campaigns.

Charlotte homeowners can already plug in their addresses and get a “trade-in” price estimate within a day.

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Here’s how it works.

Knock’s strategy is to eliminate pain points in the concurrent home selling and buying process. About 50 percent of home transactions involve people both buying and selling at the same time.

1) You submit your address and home details on the Knock website and are quickly emailed a price range of how much Knock thinks the home is worth based on their algorithms — much like what Zillow uses for its “Zestimates.” Knock will then come in and do a free estimate and lock in a price.

2) Knock helps you find the new house you’d like to buy. You’ll get pre-approved for the purchase and get all the underwriting done at this point, too.

3) Knock will buy the house you want, straight cash. They’ll also put up to $10,000 in repairs into the new home.

4) You move in to the new home.

5) Knock starts marketing your old home. They’ll put $10,000 in repairs into it as well (if needed) and their staff handles the showings.

6) When the old home sells, you’ll settle up with Knock on your new home. They have mortgage partners, or you can bring in your own financing.

It’s pretty clear what their value proposition is.

You don’t have to worry about trying to time the two transactions just right. You don’t have to keep your old house spotless and vacate at a moment’s notice for showings.

Knock makes its money by charging you the standard agent fee on the transaction. Repair costs get rolled into the mortgage you pay. You pay on your old mortgage only until the whole process is complete.

There’s a lot more that goes on behind the scenes. With the background from Trulia, the team at Knock knows how to make real estate listings rise to the top of the Zillow results (Trulia sold to Zillow for $3.5 billion in 2015).

They’ll also invest money in things like drone imagery or 3-D tours of the property.

Instead of real estate agents, Knock employs “licensed local experts” who guide people through the process and handle tasks on-location. They’re paid a salary, receive stock options and only receive a bonus if customers are happy.

Knock plans to hire at least a few dozen people in Charlotte over the next 12 months, CEO Sean Black said.

Knock CEO Sean Black

Charlotte is the company’s second market after launching in Atlanta a year ago.

Why here? Several reasons that became apparent during the 2008 housing market collapse.

Both Charlotte and Atlanta have strong and stable real estate markets, Black said, with people’s primary homes rather than vacation homes and an economy that’s not entirely dependent on one industry.

From here, Knock will expand to Raleigh and then on to Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Chicago, Miami, Orlando, Tampa and Denver.

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Andrew Dunn
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Editor-in-Chief