Just as Borrowed & Blue believes that everyone deserves a beautiful wedding & a stress-free planning experience, Jody Clower, founder of Nestiny, believes that everyone deserves a beautiful home & a stress-free buying experience. Since many newly engaged couples & newlyweds embark on the next step of purchasing their first home together, we at B&B thought it would be a great idea to introduce first-time buyers to Nestiny, a brand-new website that is quickly becoming the premiere destination for online homebuyer education. From A to Z, Nestiny walks homebuyers through every step of the purchasing process, from choosing an agent to closing, and it's all completely free to users.
For a little over a year, Nestiny has been helping making home buying easy & fun, believe it or not. Through apps, customized reports, and more, Nestiny puts buyers in the driving seat. If you've ever started the process of buying a home only to be quickly overwhelmed, you can understand what a welcome concept this is! We wanted to know more about Nestiny, so I chatted with Jody to learn how she got the inspiration for this project, how the site helps first-time homebuyers, and what's next for the business, so read on & get excited! The dream of home ownership just got a lot more real thanks to Nestiny.
How did you get your start in real estate?
I am the daughter of an architect and contractor, so I spent my childhood touring homes under construction with my parents; the smell of freshly cut lumber is very nostalgic for me. This instilled in me a love of all things “home.” So, I have always been interested in real estate.
I saw the opportunity to make the world a better place by helping people realize their dream of homeownership because I know how much “home” means to me so I wanted to help people experience “home” too.
Many people ask why I got into real estate at a time when many real estate agents were getting out. Back then, the market was slowing down and the mortgage climate was chaotic. It may sound counterintuitive, but the best time to expose a problem is when things aren’t perfect and an industry is experiencing problems. I have never been one to back down from a challenge and since this is what I decided I wanted to do with my life, I figured there was no time like the present.
Describe Nestiny's "mission."
Nestiny is the premiere website for online homebuyer education. By empowering home buyers through timely, expert advice and giving them an arsenal of new tools, Nestiny guides buyers through their learning process from start to finish in an approachable, engaging way.
Tell us more about the inspiration behind founding Nestiny.
I quickly realized when I got into real estate how broken the home buying process really is in many places. Buyers and agents were using a mix of old- and new-school tools and over the years I witnessed a lot of confusion, frustration, and disappointment among home buyers and my fellow agents. What I found was that the internet had also disrupted the natural order of the process. In the old days, agents would meet a potential buyer upfront and hold their hands from start to finish. What happens now is that buyers want to be very DIY and go online first and try to do research on their own but the online sites are focused on the houses and not you, which creates the problem. There was no site out there helping buyers discover what matters most to them personally and in their next home and no site was giving buyers any real tools to help self-assess their personal and financial readiness to buy in a one-stop destination. So what happens today is that buyers have to poke around on the internet trying to find articles and advice and it is a lot of work for them if they want information before they are ready to engage with an agent.
Looking and daydreaming about houses you see online is fun, but it’s easy to see how you can get excited about a home you don’t even know if you can afford. Imagine driving a BMW and getting excited about it. Then imagine being told you can’t afford it. Since you didn’t examine your financial situation beforehand, you just set yourself up for disappointment. Carry that forward to homes and you can make some unforgiving and costly mistakes before you know it. People see a house they like online but have no idea how to get into it. How do they get from A to Z? We believe everyone deserves a home but many people just haven’t had the right tools to make that happen.
This is a huge problem because it has the ripple effect on many fronts. Buyers waste valuable time, money, and resources trying to get the information they need on their own and then the online search sites are selling one expensive potential buyer lead to many agents at the same time. So, the buyers are getting bugged before they are ready to engage with an agent and the agents who are trying to help people waste a lot of time calling hundreds of people who aren’t ready to buy and are just “looking” before they find just one real buyer to help.
Talk about inefficiency! After years of watching this struggle among my buyers and fellow agents and not seeing any responsible solutions out there, I decided to build Nestiny. I knew that the key to fixing this problem is through education. 70% of homebuyers have regrets around buying their home, mostly around their lack of financial preparation. People put off things they don’t understand, and we are trying to take a lot of the "unknowns" out of the equation. By giving buyers better tools, they may realize that they can actually buy in six months rather than two years.
Buying a home can be overwhelming and scary enough, so we shouldn’t let technology make it worse. We should align technology with people’s needs to make lives better.
While I was very happy as a real estate agent, I didn’t want to have what I call “rocking chair regret” one day by not building this.
I also don’t have kids of my own, so I hope Nestiny will be my legacy. It’s my little gift to the world to hopefully make people’s lives better by creating happier homeowners. And what is more important than having a wonderful home for your family?
How does Nestiny specifically help newlyweds navigate buying their first home together?
One of the main reasons for building Nestiny is that as an agent I was working with a lot of newly engaged and newlywed couples. What should be an exciting and happy time was actually pretty stressful for them. What I found was that many couples were very confused when trying to figure out how to merge incomes, discover mutual wants and needs, and choose a home together. Most of their wedding planning was focused on “the big day”… the venue, cake, dress, guests, etc., but there was no little birdie in their ear saying, “Hey, what about life after?” I envision Nestiny as a natural addition to a wedding planning checklist. As a matter of fact, it makes the most sense to start using Nestiny either before you start planning your wedding or when you book your venue. The more time you take to plan, the better your outcome will be. So because I noticed they didn’t have the right tools to fully prepare for their new home journey together, I wanted to empower these couples to be able to go online on-demand and get the education and planning tools they need.
There is often a disconnect between what the bride and groom believe they should be spending or which home suits them best - this should be flushed out before you spend too much time house hunting. We are working very hard to make all this learning fun and easy too.
Where do you find first-time homebuyers are most overwhelmed, & how is Nestiny helping them overcome that?
Buying a home is complicated. Most first-time buyers are embarrassed to admit they don’t know the difference between an earnest money deposit and a down payment. They don’t know the difference between an appraisal and a tax assessment. They get some bad advice from a relative who is rusty on the home-buying process and that advice either gives them unrealistic expectations or sets them up for failure by making a costly, unforgiving mistake. They also don’t understand how important choosing the right real estate agent is to their success. However, the biggest hurdle which first-time buyers have to overcome is understanding their financial readiness to buy and knowing what to expect with regard to the expenses and impact of buying and owning a home.
We want to alleviate unpleasant surprises by giving them expert tips and advice to avoid pitfalls by giving them a "True Affordability Tool" that empowers them to calculate how much home they can comfortably afford. Based on their entries, we can show them three suggested price ranges (Aggressive, Balanced, and Conservative) of homes for them to consider so THEY make an informed decision. The trouble today is that a lot of times the lenders tell the buyers the max they can afford and then buyers try to guess what to spend. A lender has a standard debt-to-income threshold for a borrower to fit within and they are not legally allowed to ask certain questions of borrowers. But we all know that if you have a family with three kids versus zero kids, your monthly expenses are going to be higher. So, a standard lending debt-to-income threshold doesn’t work for most. We created a tool that helps them more accurately calculate their comfortable price range based on very detailed inputs such as daycare expenses, hobbies, savings goals, private school tuition, and more. We remind them of costs they may not even be aware of. This is great if you are a couple and you know you are merging incomes at some point. I envision you grabbing a bowl of popcorn, sitting down with your future spouse, and making a date of it by playing with our fun games and tools to arrive at your own smart decisions. Have fun together but don’t let anyone else tell you what you can afford.
Tell us about the amazing web-based resources Nestiny currently offers.
We already have a guided learning process we call the "Journey Homework" which breaks the home buying process down into simple steps, a True Affordability Tool that I just mentioned, and a fun game called "Home Pinwheel" to help you decide which home styles you like best. (Imagine Tinder for home styles...) We have tips embedded on almost every topic on the site and these are real-world time and money-saving tips that you won’t find elsewhere online and would have to wait for an agent to tell you once you were working with them. As soon as you sign up on Nestiny, you receive a "Ready Report" that is your valuable workbook to buying a home. It is totally interactive, so the more questions you answer in the Journey Homework the more personalized your Ready Report becomes. This report contains topics like “Closing Costs,” “How to Write An Offer," “10 Ways to Kill Your Loan,” “How to Choose The Right Agent,” and more. This is a powerful head start for you before you house hunt and you can use this as a conversation catalyst with your Realtor.
Which brings up another great feature of our site. We are a buyer-friendly and agent-friendly site, meaning we strive to take the friction out of the process of connecting you to someone only if you need help. A lot of the current online home search sites connect potential buyers to agents before they are ready. Ever get a mountain of unwanted phone calls from agents you didn’t expect? It’s not the agent’s fault - they are just trying to help you and don’t know if you really need help or not until they call you.
Our approach makes more sense. At some point, you will be ready to take the process offline and get out there and look at houses. So if you need help finding a trusted agent to help you with your home search with accurate data, house hunting, contract negotiations, inspections, and the other 80 things good Realtors do for their clients, we can help connect you to a Certified Nestiny Agent specializing in your needs. We have carefully hand selected our agents and they have agreed to our Standards of Conduct so we can ensure your great experience continues offline. Our agents are an exclusive bunch in that there are a limited number of agents selected to help our special Nestiny homebuyers per city.
The cool thing is that you can view your Agent Matches and before you select one, we have a neat “Meet for Coffee” feature where you can contact an agent for an interview before you decide. Once you have met them personally, you can then decide if they are the right agent for you because we have even given you 10 starter questions to ask them. If you like them and want them to represent you, simply let them know and select them as your agent on Nestiny.
If you already have an agent, great! You can invite them to join you and collaborate on your Nestiny experience and get a copy of your Ready Report so they truly understand your motivations and needs before you hit the pavement. No more getting bugged before you are ready. It is a win-win for everyone and it's the way it should be.
What's next for Nestiny?
This is really exciting part that gives me goose bumps every day and keeps my mind whirring at night! We are not just focused on fixing the current home-buying process. We are focused on creating and deploying a higher level of service and elevated user experience unlike any other and leading the future of smarter home buying. Nestiny has many exciting, visually engaging apps, tools, and games planned for release on a continual basis that are really going to raise the bar. We are working to improve our user experience every day by giving people cool tools that they have never had before to imagine life in their next home.
We are also creating a community of informed buyers who understand that taking 5, 10, or 15 minutes on a site to just freshen up your knowledge or dive deep into all the information we provide will be the best time you have ever spent in the whole process. We are the “do gooders” of the real estate websites. We want to change lives for the better and do it in a game-changing way so that Nestiny blazes the trail for how websites should be paying more attention to their users' true needs.
So, we encourage everyone thinking of buying a home at any time in the future that if you are serious about it, start at Nestiny BEFORE you spend hours daydreaming of all the houses online. Nestiny is free and sign up is easy. This is just the beginning for us so we want to hear from our users on any suggestions to make our site better. Nestiny is for everyone looking to move at some point so please tell someone you care for about us. We are building this for you!
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Now go ahead & check out Nestiny for yourself!
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