When many people think of unicorns, they think of majestic horned horses and maybe glitter and rainbows. In the world of venture capital, the term refers to a privately held start-up with a value of more than $1 billion. This is because, much like the mystical creature, a start-up that manages to reach such a high valuation is a rare find indeed.
In the past, venture capital was primarily used to help tech companies grow. It helped launch giants like Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft. But an increasing number of real estate start-ups have been getting into the game lately, and this is especially true of proptech companies: those combining real estate and technology.
One of the newest real estate unicorns on the block is Orchard, a start-up that aims to make homebuying and home selling as simple as possible. The company announced Sept. 9 that it had raised $100 million in Series D funding to reach that coveted unicorn status. That round followed a three times growth year for the company.
But what is Orchard, and what should real estate investors know about this up-and-coming proptech company?
Just how magical is this unicorn?
Orchard's ultimate goal is to simplify the process of buying and selling. The founders don't think you should have to pass on your dream home because you haven't yet sold the one you own now. Sure, you could try to make an offer with the contingency that your own home must be sold first. But in a seller's market, you'd risk losing out to someone already prepared to sign on the dotted line.
The start-up isn't nationwide yet, but it's rapidly growing. Headquartered in New York City, Orchard also has markets in Colorado, Georgia, Texas, North Carolina, Maryland, and Virginia. And the company plans to announce four new markets next year.
Orchard has a few moving parts that all work together toward the goal of simplifying buying before you sell. Let's take a look.
To kick things off, getting the right valuation for your current home is crucial. If you're looking to sell, Orchard promises an incredibly accurate, free home valuation within 24 hours of requesting one online.
Just how accurate is Orchard? The company says its valuations are within 3.7% of the final sale price. If that sounds like a rare achievement, that's because it is. Orchard says its valuations are a whopping 40% more accurate than those of other leading providers.
Orchard gives homeowners access to the equity in their homes, unlocking up to 90% of their home's value so they can make a great offer on a new home before even listing theirs. Orchard can even help homeowners make a cash offer for more bargaining power in a tight market. Other big perks include letting Orchard take care of cleaning, listing, and showing your home and not having to pay on your new mortgage until your old home sells.
The company added two new services this year to help streamline the often messy process of navigating a home sale and purchase. Orchard Insurance works to get customers the best homeowners insurance deal fast, and the company's Concierge service can now update and repair the home a customer is selling after the customer has moved but before the sale at no upfront cost. Integrating these platforms with Orchard Home Loans and Orchard Title means customers can enjoy the simplicity of an all-digital closing.
And Orchard's services are not one-size-fits-all. After the potential customer provides all their information and explains what they need and hope to accomplish, Orchard puts together a customized plan for getting it all done.
The Millionacres bottom line
Buying a home while trying to sell your current one can be stressful. Shiny new unicorn Orchard is on a mission to take a lot of hassle out of the equation and make it the exciting time it should be. It's an opportunity homeowners ready to sell may want to look into.
And if you're an investor looking to unload a rental property you've acquired equity in but wanting to buy another first? Orchard just might be the unicorn you've been looking for.