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Why I Founded Realm

Because once I started investing in real estate, I thought it was crazy that homeowners didn’t have access to the same information as investors.

I’ve always liked real estate. Growing up, we rented a home in central NJ, but when I turned 6 my parents had saved up enough to become homeowners. We had to move further away from New York City, but my dad never complained once about the 2 hour (each way) commute he had for 20+ years.

So many of my memories revolve around our South Jersey home where my parents live to this day. Getting to pick the paint color for the computer room. Partially finishing the basement so I had somewhere to dance to TLC and have sleepovers. Redoing my room on a $1,600 budget, which I planned down to the cent to self-install hardwood floors, apply fresh paint, and upgrade to a double bed.

Liz and her sister in front of their childhood home in South Jersey

Our home was not only at the center of most of my memories, but was also at the center of my parent’s finances. They taught me that credit cards often aren’t the best way to borrow money and that you can get better rates with a home equity loan. They agonized over renovating the dark kitchen that was trendy in 1998, but not part of the dreamy modern kitchens that became popular a few years ago. They loved to speculate on our home’s value when a neighbor’s house sold—“We have a better lot, but they built that two-level deck. Maybe they’re worth the same? Should we build a deck?”

My personal real estate adventure accelerated when I started working at Reonomy, a real estate tech company helping commercial investors better understand big properties. As I learned more through my day job, I started to invest some of my personal savings into commercial properties across the country. Along with my husband and a few friends, we’ve purchased 34 properties since 2016. We’d buy one property, improve it, refinance it, and pull money out to buy the next. After 3 years, we’ve turned a few hundred thousand dollars into a portfolio worth millions. But we’ve always relied on an information advantage—a tip from a professional or a local data point that made us confident that each property would be a good investment.

Liz onsite at a manufactured housing factory in California

With each additional investment I made, I kept asking myself: “Why doesn’t every American homeowner have access to the same information as a real estate investor, a commercial real estate developer, or a seasoned house flipper?” The average American homeowner has 62% of their assets tied up in their property, yet there is no resource to help treat a home as an asset. 

After obsessing over this question for 3 years, I became so convicted that Realm should exist that I decided to build it myself. 

Day 1 at the first Realm office

I founded Realm in 2019 to give homeowners access to data and insights to help them take advantage of their property’s full potential. After 14 months of hard work and a little luck along the way, I’m thrilled to announce Realm is now available to 63M single-family homes across all 50 states.

This is just the beginning. Our team is hard at work expanding coverage to additional geographies and building new data sets to make our insights and advice even more personalized to you and your home. 

Create an account to view your property analysis today.

Commit to Finding Your “Why”

Erik came to the United States with a pocket full of dreams from Ireland and had one goal to achieve the “American Dream.” He was coming to a land where he didn’t have any family or friends, nothing with him except $500 in his back pocket, and an apartment waiting for him in Bar Harbor, ME. However, despite the obstacles he was about to face, it did not deter him from becoming successful.

He was determined to become an entrepreneur. He tapped into his greatest strengths, relationship building and helping others, which is why he chose to partner with Remax in the Greater Boston area. He also knew he wanted to help others achieve their “American Dream” as he was on the path to living his. He did this by staying disciplined, ambitious, and being strategic. Below, Erik provided some tips on how to stay motivated

Maintain a Healthy Routine

Erik: We all have the same 24 hours; it’s what you do with that time that counts. For me, I stick to a regimented schedule:

🏋️ 4 am: Exercise and meditate
📖 6 am: Read
🗓️ 7 am: Plan my day with the team
📞 8-12 pm: Prospect
🏡 1-6 pm: Appointments

Never Stop Learning

Erik: I make it a point to learn something new every day, whether that’s through reading, listening to podcasts, or connecting with others. The most successful people see learning as an opportunity to better themselves professionally and personally. Some books and podcasts I recommend are:

📚 Books: 

No Excuses by Brian Tracy
10x by Grant Cardone, Maximum Achievement by Brian Tracy
Superhuman by Dave Asprey, Game-Changers by Dave Asprey

🎙️ Podcasts: 

Biggerpockets Daily – Brandon Turner
The Brian Buffini Show – Brian Buffini
Start with a Win – Adam Contos CEO RE/MAX

Have a Purpose

Erik: I came here from Ireland in my early 30’s with nothing except $500, so to be able to work for Remax, have my own business, and help others achieve the American dream through homeownership is what drives me to be successful. I also love the unlimited opportunity and potential that come with being a real estate agent. 

Erik has experienced firsthand what it takes to become a successful real estate agent. He understands the value of utilizing technology tools available to him, such as Realm, to make his job more manageable, and help with his cold outreach. He uses Realm to help his clients understand their property with the insights and ROI model we provide for different projects or start a conversation with a prospect.

Lastly, even though he works hard, he makes sure to keep the job fun, exciting, and satisfying by balancing his time with family, friends, work, and his dog, Solas.

Trying to find different ways on how to elevate your routine? Create an account with Realm.

About Realm

Founded by real estate entrepreneur Liz Young in 2019, Realm is a one-stop-shop for accessible, actionable home advice. With data-backed insights ranging from when to tackle a bathroom renovation to when to refinance, we are here to help modern American homeowners get more out of their biggest asset.

Realm helps real estate agents offer their clients data they never thought they could get their hands on, such as instant quotes on project costs and ROI for different projects. Whether a client is actively selling or buying or if you are just looking for a way to reconnect, Realm has data & insights to help!

Alicia and James: Finding possibilities in their home

Meet the homeowners: Alicia is an environmental and sustainability consultant. James is an aerospace engineer. These busy professionals are also parents to a young toddler. 

Their goal: Turn their not-quite-right ranch home into a place to put down roots and grow their family. Bonus points if they can bring in some rental revenue. 

In 2016, Alicia and her then-boyfriend James were looking to buy a home. They were starting to think about their future (and plans for a family) and wanted to find a place close to James’s relatives in Orange County, California. But their search was proving more difficult than they had anticipated. The real estate market was heating up and there weren’t many homes available in Orange County at the time, so bidding was competitive. In fact, Alicia and James made offers on four separate homes — all of which went to other buyers. Even still, when they first toured their classic California ranch in Fountain Valley, they were, well, uninspired. “We remember saying, Oh, that’s so terrible and ugly!” says Alicia, thinking back on her first impression.

But they liked the neighborhood and the school district, and James’s family lived only a ten-minute drive away. Although the home wasn’t perfect — in size or style — it had good bones and they thought they could make it work, at least for a few years. In October 2016, they bought the modest, three-bedroom, two-bath and immediately started renovating. 

Their goal was to make the home comfortable and liveable. They needed to replace the roof and make some other aesthetic and safety updates. A new kitchen layout, as well as refreshed fixtures and finishes gave the home a style boost. 

Neither James nor Alicia are contractors. But at the time, Alicia had a connection with a local, family-owned commercial construction business. Knowing that she could turn to them with questions helped the couple navigate the renovation process. Even still, managing multiple projects over three months was stressful. To add to the challenge, Alicia and James trimmed costs by doing some of the work themselves. “We did a lot of the demo and all of the design as far as what materials we wanted and how we were going to lay things out,” Alicia remembers. “It was a lot of work on top of our full-time jobs.” 

But the effort paid off and in late 2016, they moved in. Soon after, they got engaged. The couple’s friends and family joked that if they could make it through the renovations, they could certainly make it through marriage! On the first anniversary of their closing date, more than 80 of Alicia and James’s friends and family gathered in their backyard for their wedding ceremony and reception. 

While the renovations had made the home more comfortable, there was still a long way to go to transform this “terrible and ugly” space into their dream home. Alicia and James were considering other real estate options. They knew they’d eventually want more space. But each time they dipped a toe into house-hunting, they were reminded that the market was still highly competitive. 

That’s when they started re-imagining their current home. What if they built an addition? That would allow them to stay put and increase their square footage — a need that was becoming much more pressing because Alicia was pregnant. 

At the end of 2019, the couple welcomed their first child, Amelia. Alicia’s mom traveled more than 7,000 miles from her home in Macao to help out and spend time with her new granddaughter. Her plan was to stay for a few months. But this was early 2020 and plans changed. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Alicia’s mom stayed in California.  

Prior to the pandemic, Alicia only saw her mom once every couple of years. Having her around for several months got Alicia thinking more about that addition. If they built onto their existing home, her mom could visit more often and stay for longer stretches of time. They could also host other family members more comfortably. 

But building an addition was a big project — much bigger than their prior renovations. Alicia and James couldn’t imagine juggling new parenthood while planning, designing, and managing a renovation of that scale. Plus, Alicia no longer had her connection to the local construction company, so she wouldn’t be able to lean on their expertise for support. “Part of the challenge with those renovations was just the stress of wondering, is this the right decision?” Alicia recalls. “It’s a big investment of time and money. Not having that professional perspective confirming that yes, this is a good idea — that would be stressful for me.” 

That’s when Alicia discovered Realm. She was curious about the free tools, so she created a Realm account and discovered she was able to quickly and clearly assess the cost of an addition and the return on their investment. “It was so easy to see, okay, adding a room would add this much value to your property,” Alicia says. “Being able to customize it to our specific property — that was really neat.”

Alicia spoke with an advisor and learned more about how Realm could support her and James throughout the renovation process. Working with a Realm advisor, Alicia got a feasibility report, which provided more details about project cost and value, as well as critical information about local zoning regulations, guidance on contractors, and financing options. Her advisor also connected her with a Realm designer, who put the couple’s vision on paper. That design gave Alicia something concrete to discuss when it came time to get bids from architects — all of whom were vetted by Realm. 

A Realm designer laid out Alicia and James’s vision for their addition

The architect helped clarify and fine-tune their plans. The amended design will allow Alicia and James to expand their addition, building out a more spacious master bedroom and bathroom. They’ll also get a true home office for Alicia, who was working remotely even before the pandemic and currently sets up shop in the living room — not an ideal location when you’re sharing space with a chatty toddler!

What started off as an addition has now evolved into a junior accessory dwelling unit with a small kitchen and its own entrance. This will give Alicia’s mom plenty of room to enjoy her longer visits. It also gives Alicia and James the option to bring in some additional revenue by renting out the space to vacationers. 

Realm’s Cost Estimate
(400 sq ft addition)
Updated Cost
(630 sq ft addition)
Home Value Increase
$160,000 – $190,000$220,000 – $250,000$260,000 – $280,000

With their build plans in place, Alicia and James are almost ready to break ground. They’ll work with their architect and their Realm advisor to select a general contractor, and once the project is underway, they hope to complete it in three or four months. Although any renovation of this scale takes time and effort, it’s also given Alicia and James a chance to reconsider their relationship to their home. They’ve come a long way since that first house tour and have started to think about this place — the home where they got married and had their first child — as a place to put down real roots. “Being able to talk through our options with our Realm advisor, working with a Realm designer to put those ideas on paper, that helped us solidify our concepts for this home,” Alicia says. “It allows us to stay here and grow our family.” 

Jacob and Lauren: Building for today, investing for tomorrow

Meet the homeowners: Jacob and Lauren are parents to five children (with number six on the way!). They have deep ties to their hometown where Jacob is also the pastor of a local church. 

Their goal: Create a comfortable home for their growing family while building their nest egg with an accessory dwelling unit. 

Family, faith, and real estate? It may seem like one of these things doesn’t belong, but it all makes sense to Jacob and Lauren. They both grew up in the small town of Menifee, CA. Jacob is the pastor of a local church and the couple’s extended families live in the area. Now, the couple are raising their own five children in their hometown. So how does real estate fit into the picture? Jacob and Lauren consider their home and their nearby rental properties an investment in their family’s future. “Lots of my friends are moving out of California because of costs,” Jacob explains. “So my plan is to have rentals that are affordable — at least five of them — and keep my kids local when they get older. Give them an offer they can’t refuse!” 

Achieving this goal requires vision, which Jacob and Lauren have in spades. Seven years ago, the couple started hunting for a home with more land. They wanted property with enough acreage to build an accessory dwelling unit (ADU), so that they could bring in some rental revenue. On paper, a four-bedroom, three-bathroom on nearly three acres of tree-lined land was perfect. In reality, the property needed a lot of work. The house had been vacant for two years and the interior was covered in graffiti. “The siding hadn’t been redone since the 1970s and there were quite a few dead trees that had to come down,” Jacob remembers. “And four different owners had done a lot of DIY renovation inside.” The property also came with a tumble-down old barn filled with zombies, mummies, and other ghosts of bygone Halloween parties. 

While others might have been discouraged, Jacob and Lauren saw potential. The property would give their young kids a place to spread out and experience an untethered, adventurous childhood. They had some experience with fixer-uppers and thought that with a little elbow grease (and some YouTube research), they could make some simple upgrades to the main home.

Jacob also imagined converting the barn into a studio apartment that he could rent out. But he ran into a slew of obstacles. “I was trying to find contractors, trying to figure out what I could do on my own, what I couldn’t,” Jacob explains. “And at that time, the fees that the city was going to charge were higher than my estimated construction costs. I went through a pretty long debate with them. We just became overwhelmed and it felt like we couldn’t go forward with that project. So we just kind of backed off.”

Not one to give up completely, Jacob pivoted. He turned the barn into a multi-use space, with a home office, a wood shop, and an open area for church gatherings and events. 

Over the next few years, as Jacob and Lauren’s family continued to grow, local building laws changed. The couple still wanted a rental home on their property, but the barn’s office and church meeting space had become integral to the family’s life. So they returned to their original plan: building an ADU. But Jacob was apprehensive after his experience with the barn. “I was a little nervous to end up in the same place again,” he remembers. 

Jacob and Lauren needed support. They needed someone with expertise who could help them navigate the new laws and the inevitable challenges of building an ADU. That someone was Realm. “I’m trying to get all I can out of my real estate investments,” Jacob explains. “Realm gave me the confidence to do that because I had somebody behind me that deals with contractors and the city and could help me figure out what’s possible.” 

Working with Realm, Jacob and Lauren were able to assess bids and secure a trustworthy local contractor. Realm also provided clarity about the build costs and the fees the couple could expect from the city. About a year ago, their vision finally came to fruition when they broke ground on a three-bedroom, two-bath ADU — an ideal size for renting. “In Menifee, that’s the rental that you can always fill,” Jacob says.

Realm cost estimateActual ADU costHome value increaseLocal annual rental income
$180,891$175,223$115,000 – $135,000$24,372 – $31,320

Not one to rest on his laurels, Jacob has already started exploring other projects. With a sixth child on the way, the couple is considering ways to add space to their main home and Jacob is using Realm to weigh his options. “Do we want to do an addition? Or do we want to convert our garage?,” Jacob wonders. “The Realm tools have been really helpful in figuring out the differences in cost and return on investment”

For now, Jacob and Lauren are putting the final touches on their ADU. This fall, they’ll put in carpeting and finish the landscaping and then the home will be rental ready. That’s the short-term plan. Eventually, however, the couple wants the ADU to be a home for their parents or older relatives who might need care as they age. “Our town is a family-oriented area,” Jacob says. “That’s just the local culture and I’m thankful for that.”

Turning Real Estate Into a Lifestyle

She’s not just a real estate agent — She’s a lifestyle curator, optimist, hard worker, and most importantly, an innovator. She is also Emerald Taylor Drummond.

Emerald is an agent at Compass Real Estate on the award-winning team, Siebel-Adem Homes, in Arlington. She serves the D.C. Metropolitan area. Her main goal is to educate and assist millennial clients in finding their way to generational wealth through investing in real estate.

She has also completely changed the meaning of what it takes to be a successful real estate agent. She views herself as “a lifestyle brand” and offers her clients “white glove service by being the liaison between movers and contractors” to ensure the move is as seamless and stress-free as possible.

We talked to Emerald to get her top tips for agents who are just launching their careers:

Be a neighborhood expert

Emerald: I follow not just the real estate market, but also business trends. Every neighborhood in D.C. has a different lifestyle, atmosphere, and energy. You need to be a neighborhood expert in the areas you are servicing by reading newsletters, learning the schools within the area, demographics, and keeping up with upcoming developments within the area.

6715 Birch Ln, Temple Hills, MD 20748

Don’t bite off more than you can chew

Emerald: When you’re first starting out in the real estate industry, you’re really starting a business from scratch. You won’t have an assistant, someone writing your contracts for you, and your budget is limited, but you want to make sure you can serve each client properly. How I started managing my business is by not taking on more than five clients at a time–I want to make sure I am giving each client the attention they need.

Brand yourself

Emerald: I use LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and different tools such as Realm, to market myself. Branding yourself is so important, but share other aspects of your life outside of real estate, it makes you human and more relatable — don’t be afraid to be yourself! 

Emerald’s Instagram

Emerald knows the importance of differentiating herself within the industry which is why she is strategic with her approach for each client. Even after closing, she ensures to stay in touch with them by sharing Realm’s insights on what they could potentially do to their property to make it their own or to prioritize future home improvements.

What are you waiting for? Start thinking like an innovative agent.

About Realm

Founded by real estate entrepreneur Liz Young in 2019, Realm is a one-stop-shop for accessible, actionable home advice. With data-backed insights ranging from when to tackle a bathroom renovation to when to refinance, we are here to help modern American homeowners get more out of their biggest asset.

Realm helps real estate agents offer their clients data they never thought they could get their hands on, such as instant quotes on project costs and ROI for different projects. Whether a client is actively selling or buying or if you are just looking for a way to reconnect, Realm has data & insights to help!

Realm’s Top 25 Most Innovative Agents

As a real estate agent, you are constantly thinking of ways to improve client engagement and staying up to date with the latest tech tools in the market. Each month, we spotlight the Top 25 Most Innovative Agents in our community.

These agents have found value in Realm’s data-driven technology to educate their clients on what renovations they can potentially do to their homes while increasing their ROI.

This out-of-the-box thinking is what earned these agents a spot in our August list:

Want to see your name on the list next month? Get started by setting up a FREE Realm account or booking a 1:1 demo.

You have what it takes! Get started today ✨

About Realm

Founded by real estate entrepreneur Liz Young in 2019, Realm is a one-stop-shop for accessible, actionable home advice. With data-backed insights ranging from when to tackle a bathroom renovation to when to refinance, we are here to help modern American homeowners get more out of their biggest asset.

We partner with real estate agents around the country who use our platform to differentiate themselves from the competition and to deepen relationships with their clients.

How to use Realm to generate more referrals from past clients

You’re in touch with your clients nonstop during the buying and selling process, but what about in between transactions? Do you find yourself moving on to the next deal forgetting to keep in touch?

In less than a minute, you can use Realm to reconnect with your clients. This tactic:

  1. Provides value to your client
  2. Helps you maintain mindshare
  3. Is easy & repeatable

Watch the video above for a walkthrough of these 5 steps:

Step 1

Log into your Agent Dashboard at myrealm.co

Step 2

Click the “Add a New Property” and look up your client’s address

Step 3

Click the “Share” button underneath the property. Use our default welcome message or add your own. Whatever you type here will show up on your client’s Realm dashboard when they log in.

Step 4

Click copy. Open up your email or text messages and share the link with your client. By using this sharing link, we’ll be able to connect your Realm account to your client’s account. This is important so that we can send you notifications when your client logs into their Realm account, providing you with more opportunities to engage with them.

For an easy starting point, feel free to copy & paste the email template below

Subject Line – Thought you might want to know

Hi < Name > ,

I hope you’re doing well. I came across this cool new tool that I wanted to share. I’ve been having fun using it to explore cost & ROI for remodeling projects for my own house.

< Insert the link you copied from your Realm dashboard here >

Check it out and if you have any questions I’d love to connect with you. I love brainstorming ways to make your home perfect for you!

< Your Name>

That’s it!

Once your client logs in, we’ll take care of the rest and will send you an email notification and keep you updated with what home remodeling projects they are interested in. You can use these notifications as a reminder to follow back up and deepen the relationship even further.

With 85% of your revenue coming from people they know or people those people know, taking one minute out of your day today to re-engage with a past client will put you one step ahead of the competition.

If you would like more information on how you can leverage our tools in client meetings, reach out to agents@myrealm.co to schedule an appointment with us!

How to use Realm to help a frustrated buyer

Are some of your clients feeling buyers fatigue? Have they been putting in several offers but keeping outbid? Realm could be the solution to spark their interest in looking for a home again.

With a shortage of move-in ready inventory, more buyers are having to settle for properties that don’t meet 100% of their criteria.

In just a few minutes, you can help one of your frustrated buyers see the potential in a listing.

We hope this tip helps you get those burnt-out buyers excited about finding their dream home again or making another home one!

If you would like a FREE customized report for your next buyer presentation just email us at agents@myrealm.co. We are always here to help!

A message from our founder on our Series A fundraise

When I started Realm 4 months before lockdown, I had no idea what the next 12+ months had in store for us. 

During the pandemic, Americans had more time to reflect on how and where they wanted to live, leading to an influx of movement across the country and a peak of homebuying. 

For all of the homeowners who made that decision for the first time in 2020 or those who are finally ready to take that next step and sell, Realm is here to help you navigate the series of big decisions you’ll have to make. With data-backed insights ranging from how much to spend on a bathroom renovation to when to refinance, Realm is the modern American homeowner’s trusted resource. 

Primary homes account for 62% of the average American homeowners’ total assets, and the spending doesn’t stop once they move in. Our homes are our most expensive asset, and there’s no other place people spend so much money, with so little accurate information to base their decisions on. 

But the biggest problems, the ones really worth solving, are never easy to fix. We have a long road ahead of us, but we won’t stop until we’ve made a platform that every American homeowner trusts. A platform that eliminates the anxiety almost all homeowners have felt before making a major home decision without dependable information. That’s why I’m thrilled to announce that we’ve raised a $12M Series A Round, led by Jeff Richards at GGV Capital, with participation by all of our major seed investors. We’ll use that capital to improve our free national tool’s data quality and expand our advisory offering to more users. 

Thanks for following along with me on this journey. This is just the beginning of getting more out of your biggest asset 🏡

Liz Young
Founder & CEO

Chelsea & Shamus: Evaluating options to add space

Meet Chelsea & Shamus – Parents, designers, and ten-year homeowners

Goal: Weigh the pros & cons of adding space to their current home or buying a new home

The beauty of Realm is that we feel like we have an advisor we can trust

Chelsea & Shamus have lived in her current home in the Arts District of Charlotte, NC for ten years. They have loved raising their three children in this two-bedroom, one-bathroom home.

A couple years ago, they underwent renovation on their bathroom and kitchen. Chelsea was pregnant at the time, so the goal was to make the project as easy and quick as possible. Unfortunately, they ran into a few issues during the renovation. They didn’t know if the contractor was licensed and were unaware of how to evaluate different quotes, leading to a stressful and time-consuming process. 

With their kids growing up and their house starting to feel too small, Chelsea & Shamus had to make a decision — should they look for a new home and move, or add more space their current home?

To Stay or To Go?

They had a lot to consider when making the decision. They love their neighborhood and its community, but also needed to weight the financial pros and cons. They happy to discover Realm, which they felt was the perfect guide to help steer them in the right direction.

After watching several neighbors recently renovate their homes, Chelsea saw limitless options of how they could go about adding space. Realm analyzed 3 paths for her: a 1st floor addition, 2nd floor addition, and an attic conversion.

Keeping local zoning rules in mind, Realm’s analysis laid out the square footage allowed under each option as well the cost & home value impact. Realm’s report helped to clarify things for the couple. Chelsea said, “Realm took the emotion out of it and helped me to look at everything logically. They gave us more concrete answers of what our options were and how much we would have to put into it.” 

With Realm’s help, Chelsea & Shamus came to the conclusion turning this home into their dream home was a better option than trying to go out and find a new home, especially given the current state of the housing market.

Realm also helped to prepare the couple to take the next steps on getting started, with recommendations on local vendors who have completed similar projects nearby and advice on how to interview and vet these vendors for her project.

“Realm has actually provided us with scripts of what to say to contractors so we don’t come off as naive” 

Ultimately, Realm provided Chelsea & Shamus with the data & advice they needed to feel confident getting started. As a next step, they are working to source bids from contractors on the attic conversion and secure financing for the project.