When Michele Serro, an opera singer with a background in design, had a lackluster experience purchasing her first apartment in New York five years ago, her life mission became clear: Make home-buying human.
“I didn’t feel like there were a lot of resources for first-time home buyers,” Serro said. So she entrenched herself in all things real estate, and harnessed her design skills to create a clean, well-organized online portal that serves up information in the form of digestible articles, easy-to-follow lists, and fascinating infographics.
Whether it’s explaining common mortgage types, offering money-saving tips, or guiding visitors with an all-encompassing home-buying checklist, Doorsteps.com gives users free, step-by-step educational tools that are actually fun to read.
But what really sets Doorsteps apart from other real estate Web sites is that it makes the real estate agent the consumer’s guide.
Doorsteps works like this: The real estate pro signs up and invites an unlimited number of buyers to register at the site. It’s $25/month for the agent and free for the client. As the site walks its users through the home-buying process, member agents can see the same information their clients see and interact with them, answering their questions at each step along the way. It’s perfect for those people you meet who are interested in buying someday but aren’t quite prepared to start looking at houses.
“We designed this as an agent tool from the buyer’s point of view,” Serro explained. “Our plan is to create the best possible experience for buyers, answer all of their questions, and make dynamic content that also benefits agents.”
Just a year out of beta, Doorsteps already has 7,000 registered consumers. The Web site caught the attention of Move Inc., which acquired the company in early May. (Serro continues to work as CEO.)
Doorsteps launched a new tool this summer that enables lenders and loan officers to also keep in touch with home buyers. The goal is to help customers understand the costs associated with buying a home and how much they can afford. Doorsteps’ takeaway: Education is not just a good deed, it is good business.
“We want agents to look really good,” Serro said. “We believe that if agents engage with buyers early on in the process, then they are going to be more successful.”
Doorsteps’ first-time home buyers infographic: