CTO becomes real estate agent for Austin's tech community
For several years, Aaron Scruggs has applied his exceptional programming skills to create programs and mine data for his many investment projects in real estate. After exiting his role as CTO for an acquired startup, he wanted to embark on his own startup journey. He soon began developing innovative real estate software to help agents better serve their clients.
Aaron started sharing his tools and enthusiasm for real estate with others. Quickly realizing how much he enjoyed working with buyers and sellers, he decided to become an agent himself. He formed The Scruggs Group with his wife, Julianna. They partnered with Kuper Sotheby's International Realty and now bring their technical expertise directly to the client.
With the ability to design custom-coded search tools, Aaron dramatically improves the buying and selling process. His software provides access to data not usually available by other agents: from definitively informing you when is the best time to list to finding off-market homes. Clients can be confident they are always making the best decision for their specific needs.
Aaron's knowledge and experience have allowed The Scruggs Group to effectively productize this technology as an essential service. They are able to go several levels beyond the typical agent. Their commitment to providing a superior standard of customer service creates "a luxury real estate experience at every price point."
We chatted further with Aaron to find out more about his work and what drives him.
CultureMap: How does a chief technology officer end up selling real estate?
AS: After AcademicWorks was acquired, I wanted to start my own business. Around that same time, my wife and I began developing real estate in Bouldin. Building a real estate software product seemed like the perfect fit. But as I researched opportunities and interviewed over 50 agents in the Austin area, I discovered our tools were more valuable directly serving clients.
Being a real estate agent is a lot like running a startup. I also realized there is a lot of room to significantly improve the real estate experience by combining technology with a deep knowledge of real estate — a rare combination my wife and I happen to have. So we embarked on our journey of building a tech-enabled service to help buyers and sellers.
CM: A "tech-enabled service"?
AS: Yes, we've invested heavily in real estate technology to unlock entirely new opportunities for our clients. For instance, imagine finding the perfect home by mining property tax records. I wrote custom code that finds better homes for our clients and sells their homes for the best price.
Beyond buying and selling, an Austin startup called Corgee has helped us provide a better real estate experience. It makes the entire experience more conversational — think Facebook meets Jira.
CM: You mentioned property taxes. What do property tax records have to do with finding a better home?
AS: Imagine having a choice of five off-market dream homes and not needing to compete against other buyers for them. Austin's market is so competitive you often end up in multiple offer situations - this is great for sellers but hard on buyers.
I can use the tax records to find every home in Austin that exactly matches what my buyers are looking for. One in 20 homes in Austin will sell this year, so we'll reach out to 100 of them and typically find five dream homes from which to choose.
CM: How does your tech benefit sellers?
AS: Selling a property for top dollar is mainly about accurate pricing and branded marketing. Pricing is the easy part; I mine MLS data and import the results into a data visualization tool. This allows the seller and myself to meaningfully compare their home to a precise selection of recent home sales. The industry considers this a luxury service, but we believe every homeowner deserves this kind of treatment.
Marketing is the fun part, and it all starts with the Kuper Sotheby's International Realty brand. We invest heavily in high-end photography and virtual tours to build an association between the home and this luxury brand. Then we create a dedicated website for the property that advertises to likely buyers on Facebook. We take this one step further by retargeting these likely buyers on ad-supported web pages.
In this way, our clients literally get more for their money. We do this for every home regardless of price point. You can see an example of one of our websites here.
CM: Sum up Austin in three words.
AS: Nothing stops us.
CM: What's one thing people might not know about you?
AS: I worked in real estate in my early twenties but left to work in technology. It feels good to be back!
See Aaron and Julianna Scruggs' latest listings here, or contact them at 512-265-5025 or email@example.com.