Thus, ShelterZoom was born, as an effort of the duo to bring about a transformation in the real estate landscape. Blockchain technology served as an orchestration tool for the company’s portfolio of solutions and services in achieving unprecedented security, efficiency, transparency and trust across the industry. The company leverages the diversity of Smart Contracts from the Ethereum platform to track and document numerous transactions taking place through their solution. It gives ShelterZoom the ability to provide a seamless engagement with clients, all the while enhancing the visibility of transactions.
ShelterZoom offers a multi-faceted platform that addresses some of the hurdles prevailing in the real estate industry. Smart Contracts make ShelterZoom’s platform tamper-proof, providing state-of-the-art security, auditability, and visibility across the real estate network. The platform documents each transaction—made by buyers, sellers, tenants, landlords and agents. It also allows parties involved to accept, counter, reject or revise offers on the go. The platform provides identical dashboards with different feature sets for various types of users such as buyers, sellers, tenants, landlords, agents, listing agents, and brokers. Through this, individuals can chat with each other with regard to transactions they involve. A noteworthy feature of ShelterZoom’s platform is form builder that enables real estate agencies and government organizations to design their offer agreements in order to comply with their regional requirements. This is a one of a kind offering that allows each country to configure real estate forms, thereby establishing a customizable framework for agencies to build upon.
The company aspires to create a unique marketplace to carry out real estate operations, which reduces the hassle of running around real estate agents to buy or sell properties. Through digitization and diversity of the blockchain ecosystem, ShelterZoom delivers more of an experience than a mere channel, reducing both time and effort for various parties involved. It leads the real estate industry toward the much-needed digital revolution, transcending from the age of manual and paper-bound processes into an era of automation and optimization.
In an interview with CIO Applications, Chao Cheng-Shorland discusses the company’s unique value proposition in the real estate sector, which tackles some of the prominent difficulties in the industry.
What led to the inception of ShelterZoom?
My business partner Allen Alishahi and I co-founded the company in 2017, as an extension of a project that we were working on a year before that.
The Ethereum smart contracts create a strong sense of security, transparency, efficiency and trust within the real estate network
What are some of the challenges that the real estate industry is facing at present?
The real estate industry is facing many challenges, and inefficiency of operations is just one of them. As soon as a property search ends, buyers have to resort to a manual process to make an offer. There is a lot of paperwork involved in documenting the entire process. Real estate professionals spend too much time dealing with the low-value admin work where they should be focusing on high-value activities such as negotiation and helping their clients achieve the best outcome. I think one of the reasons why there has been no online offer and acceptance solution in the mainstream market is the concern of data security. Buyers are reluctant to submit an offer online as they worry about their personal and financial information being compromised.
The other hurdle is the lack of transparency and trust. If you are a buyer submitting an offer, sometimes you do not know if your offer has been presented. Similarly, there is no tool for a seller to track how many offers received.
When you look at these concerns, blockchain becomes the ideal solution. Digital ledgers, maintained by a distributed network of computers and interested parties, drive transparency, auditability, and security, as well as create trust in information exchanges for all parties involved in a real estate transaction. Once you have a blockchain solution in place, no one except the parties involved in a transaction can view the data which provides data security and privacy critical to online consumers. In addition, blockchain dispenses with delays because everything happens in real time. After an offer is submitted and the listing agent receives it, authorized personnel can see when the offer was made on the dashboard. Post the submission of an offer, the agent, the buyer and the seller can collaborate, counter-offer, and carry out the succeeding operations seamlessly. It also creates a sense of equality in the industry as all parties involved can access to the same set of data, and the platform does not discriminate any offer, classifying them only according to the time of submission.
ShelterZoom’s platform offers several differentiating features, with the first one being our Offer NOW and Rent NOW widgets that can be integrated with any real estate website where properties are being listed, both designed for people wanting to make an offer online. This reduces paperwork and increases the efficiency of the whole process, and an agent can look into these offers on the go. When you click Offer NOW or Rent NOW, it opens up a screen to enable you to submit an online offer, which in turn, goes through the Ethereum smart contracts. Through this application, people can securely submit their personal information, terms, pre-qualification approval letters, and financial documents pertaining to the offer.
The second differentiator is ShelterZoom being the first to utilize revolutionary Ethereum smart contracts for real estate offers, wherein, each version of an offer is distributed across the blockchain network. It is a record of every event in the ledger. As it is permanent and tamper-proof, no one can manipulate the transactions across our platform. The Ethereum smart contracts create a strong sense of security, transparency, efficiency and trust within the real estate network.
The third feature is our highly comprehensive dashboard. ShelterZoom currently offers dashboards for real estate professionals and consumers, but will soon extend to other parties involved in a transaction such as lenders and attorneys. The dashboard allows users to track and aggregate offers so that they can accept, counter, reject or revise deals, as well as manage agreement e-signing via blockchain amongst multiple parties and generate documentation. The dashboard also allows peers to instantly chat with the appropriate personnel pertaining to various transactions.
Furthermore, our data analytics provides real-time offer statistics, allowing authorized personnel to analyze detailed information sets; and our exceptional form builder, which allows different countries and regions to configure their regulatory compliant forms, positions ShelterZoom for rapid market expansion.
What does the future hold for ShelterZoom?
We are aspired to continue being one of the most innovative and impactful blockchain technology providers. Our unique and highly scalable widget strategy has a potential to bring the entire real estate industry onto blockchain with minimum upfront cost. Currently, we already operate across more than 10 states in the US and in Canada, with sign-ups in most of states and 20 countries to which we will gradually roll out in the coming months. We will also be supporting eight different languages, opening up the platform for large buyer markets.
Our goal is to create a unique market place and deliver an experience rather than just a solution, an industry change rather than just a platform, for greater security and transparency.