Boulder-based online home buying service launches

Get a realtor, look at listings, go to showings, make an offer, sign a contract, close and pay: The home buying process hasn’t changed in years, remaining mostly untouched by technology that has transformed countless industries.

But one Boulder entrepreneur is hoping that the time is right for innovation.

Shelley Janes is the founder of SideDoor, an online and mobile marketplace to buy and sell houses — sans real estate agents. The platform is launching in the Denver-Boulder market this Saturday after completing Boomtown’s accelerator program in the fall of 2015.

Janes was herself a real estate agent for three years before starting SideDoor. After so many transactions following the same formula, she came to the conclusion that she as an agent wasn’t really necessary.

“I think that the younger generation is more willing to use technology for bigger transactions,” Janes said. “Our generation — we know how to learn, and the information on how to do this is out there, all over the internet.”

For buyers, SideDoor functions like Airbnb: You log on, put in your criteria and see the available listings. There’s an option to upload your pre-approval for a loan if you have one, and a list of affiliated lenders to work with if you don’t.

A calendar feature lets you schedule showings. Contracts are all taken care of online, with lawyers available for consultation and review. The only money you pay goes right to the parties providing the services.

 On the seller side, listing a property is free — for now. (“We eventually will charge a listing fee but only when we get to a critical mass,” Janes said.) Uploading photos and a description takes minutes, and SideDoor even offers free photography services for the listed property.

The idea is to save the 6 percent typically charged by buyers and sellers agents — which, in this super-heated housing market, is big money. On a median-price Boulder County house ($495,000), fees for two agents total $29,700.

Read the full story on The Daily Camera.