June 17, 2024

KMCKrell

Taste the Home & Environment

Buffalo trio uses technology to change real estate







Nick Giambra has been selling real estate in Western New York for more than 11 years, even leading his own team at Keller Williams. But he could see a big problem in the highly decentralized business: not enough support and automation for agents to do their back-office work and interact with their clients, while still having a life and family.

So the son of former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra set out with a couple of friends – Simon Mahfoud, a former software developer with the London Stock Exchange who worked in Buffalo, and Matt Brigante, a former software designer for Oracle and Amazon, who helped create Alexa – to change that.

Now, the trio of Buffalo natives are pushing a new online technology startup called Offerwell that seeks to make it easier for agents to run a small business and serve the needs of buyers and sellers.

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The platform uses artificial intelligence and automation to help agents promote their listings, collect and present offers to sellers, conduct market research for buyers and share their work with clients.

“There’s not really any tools or automation out there to help agents do their work, so they can turn it off and be a father, husband, spouse or whatever,” he said.

“What we’re looking to do as a software company is build tools, automation and experiences for agents to be able to execute mundane and administrative work that they need to be successful so they can do more deals or be the people they want to be outside of work,” he said.

The system allows agents to manage and share listings and offers, while also enabling sellers direct access to see details of the showings and offers they have received, including the dollar amount, concessions, financing amount, contingencies and other information.

That is intended to provide more transparency to clients so they can see activity in real time and have more complete awareness of all of their options, particularly in advance of meeting with their agent to go over final offers and make a decision.

And it means buyers’ agents can see the offers, too, giving them a chance to resubmit with better terms, if desired.

The trio spent the last three years building the new company and “got really serious with it 18 months ago,” Giambra said. Mahfoud, who is Offerwell’s CEO, came on full time three months ago, followed by Giambra, who handles the company’s sales. Giambra has stepped away from active involvement in buying and selling homes, while his Giambra Team has left Keller Williams to join a smaller agency, Heritage Property Source.

The third partner, Brigante, will be joining full time once the team finishes its venture-capital fundraising round, expected to start in the next couple of months. The firm raised nearly $1 million in a “pre-seed” round with local angel investors, including former ACV Auctions co-founder Dan Magnuszewski, and participated in University at Buffalo’s Cultivator program.

So far, about 800 real estate agents in Western New York are using the platform, but the trio is working to sign partnership deals with multiple listing services and brokerages across New York, Florida and Arizona.

“We were able to build a product that is really meeting agents where they are today and helping them build meaningful relationships,” Giambra said. “This isn’t about what we want. It’s about what they want.”

Home sweet home

Canisius University’s former Demerly Hall is now home to the Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers.

The nonprofit human services agency completed its renovation of the former academic building at 2365 Main St. into its new administration building, giving it a prime and central location along Buffalo’s Main Street corridor. The 50,000-square-foot building also will host the agency’s community service programs.







BFNC HQ

The new headquarters for the Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Housing.




Built in 1921 with 3.24 acres, the building was previously owned by Great Lakes Motor Corp. and Streng Oldsmobile until Canisius bought it in 1999 for $585,000.

The college spent $3 million on a renovation , including a complete interior demolition and restoration of the exterior facades. The existing ornamental terrazzo showroom floors were also retained and reused.

BFNC bought the 103-year-old one-story building in December 2022 for $2.15 million. Previously, the organization leased space in the Tri-Main Center.

“The opening of the BFNC’s new administration building represents a step into a new service era for the 130-year-old agency,” CEO Chandra Redfern said. “We are living our focus of reimagining service to the community.”

With multiple locations in Erie and Niagara counties, BFNC offers housing and support services for those with mental illness and substance abuse, as well as affordable housing, financial education, tax assistance, a food pantry and youth programming. Its headquarters remains at the Neighborhood House in the Fruit Belt, at 97 Lemon St.

Special uses

The Buffalo Planning Board on Monday backed special-use permits for:

  • Ashley Scott to open a rental event space at 289 Austin St., for community gatherings, cultural celebrations, parties, workshops or other meetings, with a maximum capacity of 100 people seated at rectangular and circular tables.
  • Monshe Rafiqual for a community center and religious assembly for Rohingya Community, using an existing two-family house at 327 Paderewski St.
  • Daniel Thompson for a neighborhood food market at 387 Glenwood, in a former convenience store at Glenwood and Brooklyn Street that was owned by his godfather but has been closed for more than a decade.
  • Kenneth L. Houston Jr. for outdoor dining for his Nephew’s BBQ restaurant at 1125 Tonawanda St.

THE LATEST

SUNY-Buffalo State is cutting programs and offering buyouts to close its budget deficit.

The hopes for a Williamsville grocery co-op are on the ropes.

A group of homes near the former Medaille University campus are up for sale.

FeedMore WNY is getting cheap electricity for its new headquarters.

A Falconer manufacturer has new owners.

A big affordable housing project is in the works for Dunkirk.

The unemployment rate across Buffalo Niagara remains relatively low.

Evans Bank is looking for customers in the legal cannabis business.

The Old Editions bookstore project hit a snag.

An East Side health care project is moving forward.

Downtown revitalization projects in Lancaster, Dunkirk and Wellsville are getting state funding.

A Buffalo-based employee benefits firm made an acquisition.

The shrinking pool of available workers is affecting job growth in the Buffalo Niagara region.

Niacet will invest $50 million in its Niagara Falls plant.

Applicants in Niagara and Chautauqua counties have sued to invalidate more than 450 Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary licenses.

Bliss Construction proposed a new mixed-use project near Main-Transit.

Citing ‘economic’ reasons, Tesla laid off 27 more employees at South Buffalo plant.

D’Youville paused construction of its new med school building amid financing trouble.

Erie County is looking for developer for a light industrial project at Renaissance Commerce Park in Lackawanna. 

ICYMI

Five reads from Buffalo Next:

1. Michael Montante reflects on four years as Uniland CEO.

2. A federal agency could halt construction of a wastewater pipeline at the STAMP site in Genesee County. How does that affect two companies preparing to open facilities there?

3. After years of relative inactivity, the more rural northern parts of Amherst are seeing a surge of new development projects.

4. The push to get more women and minority contractors working on the Buffalo Bills stadium project could pay dividends on other big construction jobs down the road.

5. The oldest investment club in the state is in Lockport.

The Buffalo Next team gives you the big picture on the region’s economic revitalization. Email tips to [email protected] or reach Buffalo Next Editor David Robinson at 716-849-4435.

Email tips to [email protected].