I was not surprised when Zillow announced plans to slow its pace of home-buying, partially due to “operating within a labor-and supply-constrained economy inside a competitive real estate market, especially in the construction, renovation and closing spaces.” Said more plainly, they can’t find enough contractors to fix up the homes they’re buying before they put them back on the market for resale.
The contractor labor shortage is real. It’s been exacerbated by the pandemic, but it’s a problem that’s been bubbling up for a decade. While it’s impacting the entire construction and home improvement industry, the labor shortage poses special challenges for time-sensitive real estate agents who are trying to help sellers fix-up their homes. The labor shortage presents a significant hurdle in updating existing housing stock and increasing housing starts, which is impacting inventory and the entire real estate market. But there is a solution.
Do you remember the “old days” when it was impossible to find a ride in Manhattan, or any other metro area for that matter? While part of the problem may have been a lack of drivers, the far bigger problem was one of math and customer experience. While you were in Chelsea, standing at 17th and 7th frantically waving your hand in the air, a driver was sitting outside Penn station waiting for a passenger. Then Uber happened.
Uber created a technology platform and simple app to connect drivers and passengers in real-time. Uber also improved customer experience by pre-vetting drivers and replacing the frustration of price variance, payment terms and rude drivers with pre-paid rides and anonymous ratings and tips.
Uber is fairly priced, but it’s not the cheapest option. Convenience and customer experience make up for the difference. Uber is also great for drivers. It may pay drivers less per hour than they would otherwise make driving a taxi, but typical overhead, inconvenience and inconsistent fares are factored in and Uber drivers can simply hit the “on” button and get paid for every hour they’re working.
Curbio is doing the same thing in the “labor constrained” home improvement space, specifically for real estate agents trying to get their client’s homes ready for market or move-in. Like Uber, contractors sign up on the Curbio platform, then upload licensing and insurance information, client references, trade specialties, job preferences and payment info. As a final step in the vetting process, Curbio schedules a live interview with all contractors.
When an agent needs a project quote, they use the Curbio app to connect with a Home Improvement Consultant who provides a general estimate within a day and a proposal within a few. Once the contract is signed, Curbio organizes the project by trade specialty and posts the jobs to its proprietary Subwork® platform, where Curbio’s pre-qualified contractors can choose projects.
Like Uber, Curbio sets fair pricing for the consumer and the contractor, handles all payments between the parties, and pays the contractors as they complete work. All projects are rated by the homeowner and real estate agent and all contractors are also rated by the Curbio Project Manager.
Unlike today’s marketplaces that simply match consumers with contractors while leaving in place all the painful negotiations, payment terms and overhead, Curbio is the licensed GC and project manager on every project. We take full responsibility for quality and customer satisfaction, in an Uber-like, hassle-free fashion.
For the foreseeable future, we will continue to see a gap between supply and demand in the construction and industry. Regardless of the market conditions, it always seems like every contractor is busy, just when you need a project done. The truth is, many contractors are often operating in feast or famine mode, getting several job requests one month and none the next. By helping to solve this problem, Curbio is making life better for both contractors and real estate agents, with a focus on speed, reliability and customer service.
Remember the “old days” when it was impossible to find a contractor in every major city? Then Curbio happened.
Rick Rudman is CEO of Curbio. For more information, please visit www.curbio.com.