Viewing Properties Just Got Easier – WeGoLook | PREI 037
Wouldn’t it be great to have a set of eyes, hands and feet in another market to help you check or verify almost anything you want?
On this episode our guest is Robin Smith, the CEO of WeGoLook.com. WeGoLook is an inspection company leveraging a sharing economy of over 20,000 agents. They can inspect and verify properties, autos, boats, antiques, electronics, furniture, and almost any other asset.
Learn how they can help you with your real estate investing by taking care of inspection and verification tasks that you can’t easily or quickly do yourself.
If you missed last week’s episode, be sure to listen to An Aussie’s Journey into U.S. Real Estate.
Enjoy the show!
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Viewing Properties Just Got Easier – WeGoLook
We have a great show here for you today because what happens when you’re a long distance or out-of-state or maybe out-of-country investor. You’re looking to purchase a property and of course you have a home inspection done and you have other team members helping you and moving you along on purchasing that first or second or fifth or tenth property. What if you need some extra services in terms of verifying information, verifying something about the property or maybe checking up on a work that has been done and you need a second opinion or just a simple confirmation of the work being done.
There’s a solution out there and I came across a company last year some time and I looked into them and I thought this is a fascinating business. It’s a company where they will actually go out and inspect and verify virtually anything. I could be cars, boats, antiques, not just properties. I thought I need to get them on the show because this is a service that I myself will probably use with some of the projects that I’m doing right now out of state. A lot of investors, especially those that are still a little bit uncomfortable with the long distance investing and even foreign investors in other countries. We have clients in Canada, Australia, and UK. They may want to have this just as a supplement to the existing due diligence that they’re doing. I brought the CEO of the company on and they are growing rapidly and they have expanded into multiple countries. This show is all about that. It’s really just how to supplement what you’re already doing if you want it, and how to view your properties from afar.
It’s my pleasure to welcome Robin Smith to the show. Robin is the CEO of WeGoLook. WeGoLook is an inspection company leveraging a shared economy of over 20,000 agents. They can inspect and verify properties, autos, boats, antiques, electronics, furniture, and virtually almost any other asset. Robin, welcome to the show.
Thank you, Marco. I really appreciate the opportunity to be here. Thank you.
It’s certainly my pleasure. I actually found out about your service early last year. When I first heard about it, I thought that’s a neat concept, a neat idea. I wasn’t sure at the time how I would use it or how it would plug into our business model. The more I thought about it, especially as of late, the more I realize that’s a great idea. I wish I thought of that. It’s amazing. I’m excited to have you here and share this service with our listeners because many people will actually look into it further, maybe utilize your services. I certainly can see a fit for some of the projects that I’m working on. Tell our listeners what is WeGoLook.
WeGoLook is basically a crowdsourcing platform. We feature, like you said, over 20,000 nationwide agents. We call them lookers. What we do is we dispatch them on behalf of our individual customer or could be an enterprise customer, to an on-site asset, whether it’s property or automotive. Like you said, we have several different things we can look at. We capture on-site data while we’re there in the form of current photos, video while working demonstration, taking measurements, answering custom questions that we may have from our customer, just really capturing all that data. Then we review the data back in our offices here and supply our customer with an electronic report. It’s an inspection report, verification report of whatever type of asset they purchased. Therefore, they have more information, current photos. They’re armed with more information than they would otherwise have. That’s basically what we do, we’re WeGoLook.
How did you get started in this? What’s your background and how did this business come to be? Usually, businesses like this come from an accidental uncovering of a need and it just blooms from there. How did this get started?
My background is, primarily, I had my own consulting company, worked primarily with automotive customers, helped them create websites that their business development centers are training their business departments on incoming leads and things like that, really centered around automotive. I had a friend, in late 2009, that was looking at a high-end projector on eBay. He said he really needed someone to go look at it for him because he wasn’t quite sure if the seller was misrepresenting the item or if it actually existed. We had this discussion. I said there’s got to be a service that does that, because so many people are purchasing at the time on eBay and sight unseen, long distance, this is like I said, 2009. I did a little research and couldn’t find one. I thought there’s really a need for that.
With my background of sharing tools and websites and different types of platforms, I knew in my mind how I would want it to work, and thought all I need are the people out in the field and are lookers. I started recruiting mobile notaries and process servers, field inspectors, people that I thought would already be out in the field and mobile. It’s how the idea started, originated, it took about a year to create the back-end platform, of course, we’re all on platform number three now, then to recruit our first group of lookers, and of course, to really drill down on the business model. That’s how it started. It was really to help that individual customer mitigate the risk when purchasing online, and really being that extra set of eyes anywhere in the United States. We’ve gone global in a couple of countries. I’d like to take it all the way and be able to help people throughout the world, save on travel expenses and verify things. We perform low-complex tasking as well. It’s not just taking photos. We really are an asset to many people.
You continually refer to your outside agents as lookers. Explain to us how this works from a general sense, not necessarily a real estate investor, but anybody. How does the process work? Where do they begin and how does it unfold to the point that they get their report back?
Our lookers are based really on the Uber model, where a notification comes over for an Uber driver to pick up someone, a passenger. Our lookers receive a similar notification. Our platform waits a look or a task against the skill sets that are predetermined in our platform. It matches the looker against our task in the area near the asset. Our most qualified looker receives the notification first. It’s not just a mass blast, which it used to be before we had this mobile technology.
A looker claims an order. If they’re interested, they see just the basic details. In this case, it would be a property. We call them a “look,” property report. They say that they have an opportunity to go perform a property look or an auto look in the exact location. They accept or pass on the order. If they accept it, they receive all of the order details. Internally, we have a front-end department at our headquarters in Oklahoma City. We will call the on-site contact if needed, the property manager or a seller, anyone like that. We let them know who we’re calling on behalf of, who our customer is, and why we’re calling. We let them know, a looker with WeGoLook and is going to be coming out of and taking photos of their assets.
We do this for two reasons. One, we like to always verify the asset location. We want to make sure that address is correct or the phone number is correct. Sometimes, we receive incorrect information. We don’t want to delay the process. We really like to have a fast turnaround time. We also like to make sure that the seller or on-site contact is willing to have someone come out. A lot of times, if it’s misrepresented item, they’re very leery about having us come out. We’ll come up with all kinds of excuses, which is a good red flag for the buyer. That’s how the process works. Our looker goes out at the scheduled time, captures the data and pushes it back through. We have a quality assurance department on our side who reviews all the photos. We want to make sure that they weren’t taken when it was too dark or that it wasn’t taken at a basketball game. Then we push the report on through to our customer.
The Uber example is a great example because what you’re doing is very much a collaborative economy, shared economy type of model. It works very well and it’s very scalable. You could literally branch out into multiple countries very quickly.
We really are leveraging the spare time on our lookers. It’s fantastic because we have so many people that can work it into their current work schedule, or a flexible schedule, if needed. We have retired veterans who are lookers, pastors, school teachers, professional. We have professional real estate. We have different types of lookers with many different skill sets and certifications. It’s really interesting to hear all of our looker stories.
People are sitting idle. Some people are only working part-time. Some people are not working at all. Even if they are working full-time, they have a skill set that they’re maybe under-utilizing or not using at all. Now, you can tap into that resource, which are people, just leverage their skills. It’s a win-win for everybody. It’s great.
They’re local in the area. They’re very familiar with the surroundings and the different types of properties, so they’re able to answer a lot of questions that someone outside of that area may not be able to answer.
Here’s a more pointed question. I’ve been trying to reconcile what the differences between what you guys provide as a service and what someone like a property inspector would provide, which we use all the time. We insist that our investor clients use an inspector all the time. We want them to know what they’re buying and feel comfortable. I don’t know where that overlap begins and ends, and how maybe your service supplements what an inspector is doing. My question is, why would a real estate investor need your service if they’re already getting an inspection report anyway?
There are several different reasons. There are different levels of inspection reports. If you’re wanting something where there’s a damage appraisal or you’re really needing to check for termites or any major roof damage, things like that, that’s not what our business model is. If you’re a property investor who wants to, first of all, verify the location, if it’s a raw piece of land, or even if it’s a property that’s online, our basic reports started only $69 with a nice little insurance policy to get current photos of the property, and also, of course, current photos of the street views. Even though you can use Google Earth to a certain extent, you don’t get the detail that you would with a WeGoLook report. Of course, we answer customer questions.
The price, of course, is one. If you’re looking at a true property inspection, you’re paying quite a bit more. The turnaround time typically is not as quick as ours is. We also have the electronic report versus a traditional PDF. That’s where our photos, you can open them almost full screen and really zoom in and look at detail. We’re able to answer those customer questions. We have a lot of banks and property investors that just want to verify a few things, whether it’s business use or current condition. Of course, we do look for major visible deferred damage, but we’re not experts. We’re really there just on your behalf to verify certain things. That’s one part of it.
It’s not so much a technical inspection, where someone has to have knowledge of plumbing or electrical or roofing. It’s more of a verification and a look. I can’t come up with a better term than that.
That’s very helpful, especially if you’re trying to flip property in the actual people who will be purchasing it on the back-end, if you’re just a broker or you’re just trying to help someone with that property, who would end up paying for full inspection, if it’s required. We’re really there to help in the interim and verify certain things. The second part of that is our platform is very dynamic. Where you’re might be using a property inspection company, we also perform multiple tasks. We are able to pick up certain documents. We can go to a jurisdiction, a municipality, and pull research records and perform research on certain properties, and also send those to the customer. We can actually attend sheriff auctions and film certain things. We can perform a video walk-through with FaceTime. There are other types of things that we can do for our customers that’s possibly just a traditional property inspection company can’t do. Ours is, like I said, pretty dynamic and flexible. I think that really sets apart from other companies. Of course, we do have the nationwide coverage. Even though there are other nationwide property inspection companies, we actually do quite a bit of work for some of those they send out to us because of our rural coverage area. Even companies that have been in business for 30 years are sending us lists every month in property for us to go out and perform property inspections on their behalf. We have great coverage.
Robin, it sounds like it’s more of a supplement to a lot of things that are already being done, from my perspective, with a real estate investor. You’re an extension to someone’s hands, eyes, ears, and feet, in another market. It sounds like you do a lot of things. The flipside of that question would be, “What will your lookers not do?” Is there something they can’t legally do or something they’re just not going to cross the line?
Some people ask us to go into certain areas of a city where even police departments won’t go to, and our lookers are familiar with the area. We don’t ever want them to be put in harm’s way. Sometimes, we have people that want us to have our lookers go out into major freeways and take pictures. Those aren’t safe areas. We always are looking at the safety of our lookers. We’ve had some people want us to jump fences and take pictures. We’re obviously not going to do any trespassing without anyone’s permission, or going to look at anything that we believe is illegal.
Other than that, we typically will find lookers who are able to perform different types of inspections. We had a very large bank that needed us to perform property inspections, commercial property inspections, after Hurricane Sandy, but they needed someone who is CIMA certified to get past the barricades. One of our lookers rode his bicycle down there, was able to get past the barricades because he was CIMA certified and performed the inspection. We do have NACHI and ASHI inspectors in our database. We do have some of those people that are with the higher expertise level if needed. Overall, we don’t perform any kind of dangerous tasks.
How does the Freedom of Information Act apply to what you guys do?
As far as it applies to us specifically, we’re able to request information using the FOIA forms fairly often at different types of jurisdictions. We own all of the data that we capture the photos, unless specifically requested by our customer or if we have an enterprise client. In the contract, it will state that they own all of the data. Our lookers, when they sign on, we have an agreement that they don’t own anything. Everything is performed through our mobile app now and nothing is ever stored on a looker’s device. Everything’s cached and then deleted upon submission. Our data security is pretty strong. That’s all evolving as technology has as well.
The mobile app you’re referring to, is that just internal use or is this for the general public?
It is for our lookers. It ties in specifically with our platform. It’s fantastic actually. Let’s pretend you’re a small bank that does the national footprint. You have specific questions you need to ask, perhaps it’s in a state where there’s medical marijuana locations, and you need us to perform a property inspection and you want us to go look for signs that medical marijuana is being sold. There are different types of questions you can ask. You can give me, for example, ten specific questions you want us to answer on your report, and say 25 very specific photos. We can put that into our platform tonight. It will be in the hands of all of our lookers tomorrow morning in the form of a mobile app, where they are capturing those exact answers to those questions. You almost have your own mobile app through our platform. It’s really a neat feature that a lot of our clients love because you can’t pay for that. It’s super expensive to do that on your own. We’ve built our platform to be very robust and intuitive with those types of features.
What about serving legal documents, which is what a process server would do? That’s their job. Do you guys do that?
We can. We have process servers in our database. We’ve done it before. Of course, we have mobile notaries, people that are bilingual, many different types of skill sets like we talked about earlier that we have noted in our system. When they look for signs up, they complete a profile and give us all this information. We have what’s called a pro-team. We have about 1,800 pro-team members. These people have to show us proof of those types of certifications. We’re able to assign those types of looks for them.
Let me take this back to real estate here for a moment. As far as real estate investors go, what is the most common type of look or verification that the lookers go out and do for real estate investors?
For our real estate investors, we have a lot of international clients that love to buy on the auction platforms. They send us out to verify that the photos of the property are current. A lot of times, on the actual listing, they can be a little bit older. In fact, we had two brothers from Germany. They were interested in purchasing a piece of property. When we got there, there was yellow police tape. It had been in a fire because there were people that were actually living in the home illegally. It caught on fire. They were very excited that they didn’t purchase that in an auction.
Most of it is really making sure they want us to also get a good feel for the neighborhood and current photos of the neighborhood. A lot of times, I want to go see if there’s anything stripped out on the inside. Google Earth doesn’t give you any photos of the inside. I want to make sure that the plumbing’s still there, the copper’s still there, all these type of things. Again, a lot of it is the surrounding property. Sometimes, they want to see if there’s high traffic volume. They want to see right outside of areas, there are a lot of traffic, the neighboring properties, what do they look like? They sometimes want us to just see if there’s any kind of labor or materials that have recently been performed to make sure before they find anything that there’s any significant of construction material or recent work that they might be liable for.
We verify occupancy. That’s always a big one. Again, property use, if it’s commercial. Sometimes, people want us to check the local jurisdiction for code violations for that property, which we have to go in and typically request using the FOIA forms. Everyone’s different, but a lot of times, it’s just making sure that, yes, that property is there. Yes, the people that gave us the information, we do have access to it and they’re the credible seller. We have buyers that want different things, of course, it’s raw land. Sometimes, they want us to go put signs for them. We did that as well. There are a lot of things that we do.
The commercial piece is a little bit different. It is where that very first step before someone goes through a loan process. We’re an inexpensive way for the banks, especially since there’s so many new online banking platforms, to make sure that it is the correct business use, that there isn’t any major deferred damage, that once you go inside, it does appear to be a doctor’s office or an attorney’s office, or a warehouse. They get a really good feel for the condition of the parking lot and different things like that. Our commercial properties are used really for more of a verification purpose
Sounds like your service provides looks and verifications, and even inspections that are outside of the box that are what a home inspector would do. They’re only going to do certain things and deliver report based on certain items that they’re going to check. That’s the box. Everything else around that, the neighborhood, the street, is outside that box. Another interesting thing that you guys can do, which is something I want to actually talk to you about later, you can verify what your current professionals are doing for you anyway. If you’re working with a contractor or a property manager, or a rehaber, or whoever it may be, they claim they’ve done certain work. That’s all said and done. You trust that they’ve done it. Maybe you want to verify it without telling them or offending them that you’re double checking what they’re doing.
Especially if it’s a large draw. People will want us to go out and verify that the property is being worked on. The good way to do that is just to send us out on a monthly basis, if it’s a large project, just to take pictures of everything that’s going on, so we’re able to meet people that have secondary properties. We’re able to meet the plumber or the electrician or someone at the property to let them in and be there while they perform their work. A lot of times, people need that as well. Like you said, you’re spot on with being able to check construction progress. We actually have a company. They install the ordering menus for a large national restaurant, drive-in restaurant. They have one crew that they send out nationwide. If the construction manager says, “Go ahead, bring your crew,” they send the crew and they get there and they’re not ready for them. They have to either hole up in a hotel and spend that money, or they have to turn around and drive back to their offices. They can just order a single report. We go out and take pictures. We can tell by the photos if their crew is actually ready to go because they’ve been told so many times, “Sure, come on. We’re ready for you.” Then they get out there. It’s so much more cost effective for them to send us out first. Again, we’re that insurance policy of just verifying something.
What about the pricing model? Tell us about that. How does that work?
We do have our basic report. That’s just $69. We really like that because we wanted to, again, like I said, just anyone be able to afford this on any kind of item. Obviously, we can add additional photos, that’s for ten photos and just a couple of different questions. If people are needing like a same-day service or they want something very specific, sometimes we have individuals that have a very specific way they purchase properties in the way that they want us to go about viewing their properties and the questions they have. We’ll create a custom scheme for them like I was talking about earlier. That will be priced based on whatever quote it is. They might want 50 photos. We would price that out to that person when they called. Everything starts at $69. Our average overall is $89. All of our reports each month is typically around $86 to $89 total average.
That sounds very reasonable to me. Are you in other countries as well?
Yes, we’re in the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. We’re able to send lookers there. We had a looker on board and called this morning. My community manager came to me and said we had someone from Italy calling this morning. We do have lookers from different parts of the word, so Singapore, Shanghai. We have them strategically located in different cities, but not full coverage like we do in Australia, UK or Canada.
Probably the last question I want to ask you is what was your craziest look to date? You must have had some real doozies, I’m sure.
I don’t know if this is legal to tell you that story, or moral. I’ll tell you, the craziest one was a gentleman that called and wanted us to go and verify a lot. When I say a lot, I’m talking about in an auction of blow-up dolls. It was like 50-some odd dolls that he wants us to verify that were actually in that lot. That was interesting. One of my most interesting ones that I have had was the cellphone towers that are disguised like pine trees or like clock towers. It’s really interesting to see what they’re all disguised as and the code violations that they send us out to. They can tell by the pictures if they’re in violation of codes. Of course, it’s a lot less expensive to send us out than just to pay those fines. It’s really interesting to find those and see those. I drive by and I don’t think anything of it. Those are interesting. Automotive is our most popular; followed by property, followed by heavy equipment. It’s interesting. Those are our top three looks.
I’m sure there’s probably something I didn’t ask you that maybe I should have. Is there anything else you want to share with our listeners?
I just really appreciate the opportunity. I think what’s really neat is that people are starting to really understand crowdsourcing and the sharing economy. One of that is thanks to Uber and Lyft, companies like that, realizing that our lookers aren’t from an alien planet. They’re your neighbors and your friends, people that are experts in their field. I love that people are starting to learn about this, that there’s a way to utilize people. Technology really is bringing everyone closer together. It’s easier to do things. I think on the flipside of that, that’s kind of changing the business model. We’re becoming part of the process and we’re augmenting and supplementing the labor force in some very large companies because we have this on-demand inspection service. All of that is very, very interesting. Property, in helping people that are wanting to purchase property, is just one piece of what we do. That makes it very exciting around here. It’s a lot of fun.
Sounds like a great business model and the crowdsourcing has really taken off in the last few years. Kudos to you.
Thank you so much.
Robin, tell our listeners how they can find you and learn more about your service.
Simply just go to our website, it’s WeGoLook.com. Of course, we’re on Twitter, @WeGoLook, in Facebook and LinkedIn, and every type of social platform possible. It’s pretty easy to find us. The website would be the first step. If anyone wants to set up an account, where they feel like will be doing higher volume, it’s super simple to do. We’ve made it easy for everyone to order. We have a great customer service team here. We are happy to answer questions.
Robin, thank you every so much for your time today. This is a fantastic service.
Thanks, Robin. There you have it. That’s another tool you could add to your toolbox as a real estate investor.
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Again, thanks for listening. We’ll see you in the next episode.
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