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July 2018

Seattle startup uses multiple data sources to uncover underutilized properties in quest to improve housing supply

CityBldr, a Seattle startup, aims to "unlock the development potential of communities," and much more. It uses proprietary technology and big data to help property owners understand their property's highest and best use, and promises to bring stakeholders together to create win-win solutions.

Last month, the company announced it would start buying properties later this year for conversion into multi-family residences. As part of its arrangement with property owners, CityBldr promises to educate them on all options when selling to a developer, and to promote properties to more than 500 interested builders and developers so the owner can realize the best price.

At a May 2016 product launch, the company said underutilized properties are costing the Seattle area $35.9 billion. That figure was based on an examination of every property in King County using around 15 sources to uncover the redevelopment potential. That news was followed by an announcement late last year of plans to open an office in Los Angeles, expand its product offering to cities throughout California, partner with commercial real estate company JLL, and apply its machine learning algorithm to non-residential real estate.

Company CEO Bryan Copley said the company works with housing developers, real estate investors and housing development authorities in analyzing properties for potential improvements. Its initial goal is to improve housing supply to better match demand. The company targets properties that are zoned for multi-family development.

Forbes named CityBldr No. 1 among 11 companies that were transforming commercial real estate, in part because of its ability to estimate anticipated returns on investment on each property, thereby allowing brokers to "spend less time researching and more time on valuable face-to-face interactions with clients."

Unlike Zillow, Redfin, and Opendoor, which buy homes to sell to other homebuyers on an "instant offer" model, CityBldr will broker deals to convert properties into multi-unit buildings.

CityBldr evolved from Everyhome, another Copley endeavor, which was created to let buyers make offers on homes not yet on the market. That company will now operate as part of CityBldr. It is licensed in Pennsylvania, where it is based, and in New Jersey, New York, Delaware and Maryland.