Two Douglas Elliman agents are taking on Compass with a new platform that overlaps with the VC-backed brokerage’s non-traditional lending service for sellers.
Cousins John Giannone and Jac Credaroli last month launched a loan origination platform, dubbed Feeasy, that provides quick cash to renters, sellers or buyers who need some extra liquidity to seal a real estate deal.
Giannone and Credaroli, who work on the Lauren Muss Team at Elliman, said they came up with the idea after two years of working as agents and running into countless situations where renters, buyers and sellers struggled to come up with cash for brokers fees, staging or didn’t have enough funds to guarantee a lease.
They teamed up with family friend Stanley Moskowitz, the former CEO of Petroleum & Franchise Capital, a commercial finance lender, who is now Feeasy’s chairman and a “significant” minority shareholder.
“There was a need for liquidity in the market that most people just didn’t have,” said Moskowitz. He pointed to the nearly $15,000 average cost it currently takes to rent a New York City apartment as an example.
Feeasy facilitates loans earmarked for services related to real estate, including moving costs, first month’s rent, security deposits, painting and staging. The Feeasy platform connects borrowers with a lending partner that provides unsecured fixed-rate loans of up to $50,000 to borrowers for five year terms. According to Feeasy’s website, the lending partner is San Francisco-based lending platform, Upgrade, whose loans are originated by Utah industrial bank WebBank.
Annual percentage rates and applicable fees depend on the lender’s algorithm which assesses applicants’ credit history. According to Upgrade’s site, APRs for an unsecured loan ranges from nearly 8 percent to more than 35 percent plus origination fees of between 1.5 percent and 6 percent. Feeasy receives a flat fee for every approved and funded borrower, according to its founders. To date, founders say the platform has facilitated $450,000 in loans.
The loan application is processed instantly and uses the borrower’s credit history to determine whether the borrower gets approved. Beyond sending Feeasy’s website to a client, the broker has no further involvement in the loan, and Feeasy itself does not have any involvement in the application once it has been submitted to the lender.
“We created the product really for ourselves, made by brokers for brokers,” said Giannone. “It was really a means of us adding value to our deals and adding value to our clients.”
Rival brokerage Compass has tapped into a similar idea with the launch of its own quasi-lending service, Compass Concierge. The program allows sellers who list with Compass agents to have the brokerage pay for upfront costs related to services that will help sell their home, such as painting or staging. Upon sale, Compass sends the client an invoice for the services. If a sale does not occur, the client is still invoiced. A spokesperson noted that Compass does “not take any kind of collateral or security interest.”
Feeasy, however, is not limited to a brokerage or transaction type, and, its founders argue, the terms of the loans they facilitate are more flexible. “You could pay [the loan off] or hold the note for three to five years,” said Moskowitz.
Its founders say they’re aiming for the platform to be used nationally and not just by real estate agents.
Feeasy also has agreements in principle with staging company, Showhomes, and Brooklyn-based real estate agency Bedford Brownstone Realty. The founders claim they have 35 such agreements, however they clarified that Feeasy does not pay referral fees to its partners.
Credaroli said they told Muss and “management” at Elliman about Feeasy before it launched in early July, but there is no agreement between the two companies. Elliman declined to comment. Muss told TRD that Feeasy is a “totally separate business” from her team.
Nationally, unsecured personal loan debt is skyrocketing, despite being considered risky. It’s the fastest-growing type of consumer debt and the market hit an all-time high last year, according to consumer reporting agencies.
Moskowitz declined to comment on the credit scores of would-be borrowers who apply for loans through Feeasy, remarking that its the lender, not their platform, that approves loans. “It’s their money they can do what they want,” he said. “My goal is to hit nine figures of annual volume.”