ShelterZoom - Real Estate Made Simple Through the Blockchain
It comes as no surprise that New York City, one of the world’s hubs for financial activity and business, has plenty of bustle surrounding blockchain technology.
ShelterZoom is one such company. The NYC-based startup has developed a real estate management platform that utilizes the Ethereum blockchain to make the process of buying and selling real estate online whole and simplified, as well as disrupting the process to make it faster and more efficient.
A new kind of real estate tool...
The company’s main feature, OfferNOW, facilitates swiftness in the process of buying a property. An additional feature, RentNOW, is more focused on putting an offer on rental properties. However, both use the same core technology that ShelterZoom has built.
On the platform itself, users can make an offer on a property, chat with an agent, and upload documents at the simple push of a button. Although, with the extra layer of protection provided by the blockchain, the exchanges between the user and agent are private. The other characteristic of the Ethereum blockchain that ShelterZoom utilizes is the ‘smart contract’ feature, which begins when an offer is made on a property. The smart contract will be made and stored on the blockchain, and can be easily transferred between two parties.
While it makes the procedure more comfortable for a potential buyer, on the other hand of the business, ShelterZoom’s technology also makes an agent’s job more accessible. An agent can use ShelterZoom as a “backbone” to their website and implement components of the platform to make the user experience better. Some of these components include a dashboard where all of their information can be stored.
“Our vision and mission is to create not just a solution, but an experience,” said Co-Founder and CEO Chao Cheng-Shorland. “We positioned blockchain as if it’s a consumer model, meaning real estate agents can take their website from its old technology and turn it into something new based on the blockchain.”
A meeting of the minds: real estate and technology
Cheng-Shorland and her co-founder Allen Alishahi, have experience in enterprise technology and real estate respectively.
The two met in 2016, and began sharing their ideas involving the two fields. It was also during a few additional meetups that ideas were brewing for the ShelterZoom platform. Around this time as well, blockchain and cryptocurrency were beginning to grow in relevance within the NYC tech space, and the two knew how disruptive this new technology was going to be to the real estate industry. Similar to many other tech entrepreneurs in that space, the duo only had a passing knowledge of the technology. They didn’t let that detail prevent them from taking the “leap of faith,” as Cheng-Shorland described, to start implementing it into their platform.
“Compared to when we started, maybe less than five percent of the population had heard about blockchain,” Cheng-Shorland said. “Fast forward to now and more than half of us have heard about blockchain. Still, one of the aspects that we are aware of is the lack of real working products in the space.”
“We feel that in a lot of places that blockchain might not be necessary and entrepreneurs will attach blockchain to their projects and try to get some mileage out of it,” Alishahi added. “In our situation, blockchain and real estate are a perfect marriage.”
Hitting all the positive points
The company was officially founded in 2017, and in a relatively short amount of time, ShelterZoom has either won or been nominated for several awards for its technology. The company’s most significant claim is the Software & Industry Information Association (SIIA) CODiE Award for Best Emerging Technology. Even with that accolade under their belt, both Cheng-Shorland and Alishahi remain humble and claim they didn’t think they would win the award.
ShelterZoom is currently available in 10 states in the country, including New York and Massachusetts, with some locations in Canada as well.
Disrupting an industry as massive as real estate is bold. To disrupt it with a still-relatively-unproven technology like the blockchain is even bolder. Although, when your team is made up of real estate industry veterans and longtime blockchain developers, one would think your company is in good hands.
“We feel that our platform and our applications touch every aspect of the real estate industry. It’s not something we made just for the buyer or the seller. It touches everything and positively changes everything,” said Alishahi. “It frees up the realtors so that they can be anywhere. They won’t have to be on their phone all the time or have to drive to someone’s home to sign a document. A buyer could be right here in New York, and a seller could be working all the way across the world if they so choose.”
Images courtesy of ShelterZoom