Local friends create Jove, the ‘Uber of real estate’

The goal of the app is to provide quick, seamless and stress-free experiences for buyers and agents alike

By Samantha Bambino

The Times

One click away: Local friends Jonathan Katz, Steve D’Agostino, Josh Evans and Alex Garashchenko, along with business manager Doanh Nghiem, are revolutionizing the real estate industry through Jove — an app that pairs buyers and agents instantaneously. Source: Sarah Maiellano

Frictionless. A simple word that holds powerful meaning for four local friends.

About two years ago, Yardley’s Steve D’Agostino, a real estate broker, and Philadelphia’s Josh Evans, a real estate investor, found themselves struggling to get ahold of an agent to close a deal on a home. As they stood helplessly at the door of the locked property, a question came to mind — if they could get a ride in under 30 seconds by using an app like Uber or Lyft, why couldn’t the same be true of hiring a Realtor?

At the time, D’Agostino was collaborating with Yardley’s Jonathan Katz, a real estate agent, to create a technology-based real estate product. Though the two Pennsbury graduates had something special going, there were challenges as they worked to determine what made their product unique. The frustrating experience of D’Agostino and Evans ended up being the answer, the missing piece.

The three, along with Newtown’s Alex Garashchenko, a Council Rock North alum and web/app developer, met at the Pyramid Club in Philadelphia to discuss an innovative idea that would revolutionize the real estate industry — an app that would connect home buyers and renters with agents for instant, on-demand property tours.

Thus, the Jove app was born, with its official launch taking place in August. Today boasting 70,000 listings — a higher number than online real estate databases like Zillow — the first app of its kind aims to become the “Uber of real estate” by providing quick, seamless and stress-free experiences for buyers and agents alike.

“I see the shifting tide. The real estate industry is definitely changing,” said D’Agostino. “I figured I could either fight the change like a lot of real estate people do, or I could be a part of it.”

So how exactly does the app work? Jove pulls information from Multiple Listing Service, the database of home listings used by agents to list properties for sale or rent. Users can view properties throughout the tri-state area, with each listing including photos and a description.

Similar to Uber, Jove is a paired request and dispatch application. If a user requests to see a home or apartment, a nearby agent gets a “ping” on their phone, alerting them that someone is interested in viewing the property. The agent can then choose to accept the request, and meet the buyer in minutes.

“Speed is everything. You’re not going to wait around two weeks to look at that property,” Katz said. “I’m going to respond right away. I’m right down the street, let’s say at a coffee shop. And if you accept my appointment, I can unlock that door for you. It’s sort of a win-win. You get in that property instantaneously and then myself, as a real estate agent, I have a potential new client.”

Buyers can continue to work with the agent, but aren’t obligated to — Jove simply makes that initial connection to facilitate quick home showings. For years, the home buying process has been slow and tedious, according to D’Agostino. A home/apartment-seeker would usually need to call the phone number on a sign outside of the property and coordinate their schedule with the agent’s.

“The problem there is you’re going to end up with one contact point, one single agent. And if that agent isn’t to your liking, or they’re not available when you’re available, you’re kind of stuck,” he said. “We’re flipping that model on its head and we’re making every professional in the area sort of work for you.”

D’Agostino added that Jove is tailored to the mindset of modern-day consumers. They want instant satisfaction, something he said the old model of real estate simply doesn’t provide.

“Technologically, real estate is an ancient industry. Almost nothing has changed since the 1950s,” he said. “Thanks to sharing economy businesses like Uber and TaskRabbit, today’s consumers expect things to work on their schedules. Jove solves the problem of being stuck on an agent’s schedule and gets buyers into a property at any time.”

The app is also built to meet the needs of agents, who often spend thousands of dollars on marketing and paying for leads to reach new clients. Jove allows them to connect with buyers who are actively looking to purchase or rent a property, as well as create a flexible work day. Just like with ridesharing apps, agents choose when they want to work.

“This is the first true tool where you’re able to sit back and leads fall into your lap,” Katz said.

At this time, agents and buyers can use Jove at no cost, and all agents are certified to ensure they’re licensed by the state. Over the next few months, the four partners hope to at least double the number of listings on Jove and expand to include properties in more states.

Visit joveapp.com for more information. ••

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com