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Meet Tony Mariotti of RubyHome in Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tony Mariotti.

Tony, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My professional career began in earnest after spending my early twenties traveling and living in different cities in Washington, Oregon, Wyoming, Utah, and California. When it was time to settle down and take work seriously, I moved to San Francisco in the late 1990s and joined an internet startup. The dotcom era was a bit turbulent, but I knew I was hooked on entrepreneurialism and technology.

Fast forward to a few years ago, after a 20-year career working in or starting internet companies, I decided to pursue a new career as a Realtor. My previous roles in sales, marketing, and the c-suite were great preparation for building a real estate business and our website, RubyHome.

As important as my business background, real estate brings together a lot of personal interests. I’ve always been fascinated with history and economics, two topics that are tightly coupled. When I was younger, most of the books I read dealt with the 20th century and European history. In more recent years, local history has become more and more interesting to me.

At this point, I can’t seem to learn enough of Los Angeles’ history. In particular, I’m obsessed with the development of the city’s first neighborhoods and architecture. RubyHome is a culmination of everything I enjoy: technology; local history; architecture; economics; deal-making; and building tools to help people find a home they love.

Has it been a smooth road?
RubyHome has been a bootstrapped venture. Without outside capital, growth has been slower than some of the venture-funded rocket ships in which I’ve worked. But frankly, slow and steady suits me at this stage of my career.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the RubyHome story. Tell us more about the business.
The distribution of MLS data has made it easier than ever for any dues-paying real estate agent to create a website that displays listings. The world is awash in data. Digging up information like average home prices, days on market and current real estate trends is easier than ever for consumers.

While data is easy to acquire and display, where most companies – especially large portals like Zillow or Redfin – fall short is the lack of local insight. You’ll rarely find a blog post that takes a deep dive about a local community on a national website. And when they do publish something, the articles are not written by people who actually live there.

The articles rarely include details; instead, they cover things that are obvious or worse, stereotypical – almost a tourism brochure rather than an on-the-ground, insider’s perspective.

From the beginning, the goal for RubyHome was twofold:
First, in addition to displaying real estate listings, RubyHome is known for our articles about Los Angeles neighborhoods. I get a lot of feedback from clients who appreciate the articles, and I’m told that they are helpful, especially from out-of-town buyers who want to get to know the city.

Writing and sharing information also builds a lot of trust with website visitors, which is pretty darn important when working with high net worth individuals. Recently, I’ve been experimenting with video, which has been a steep learning curve but fun.

Second, the business needed to mirror how people buy homes today. 99% of Millennials, 89% of Older Boomers, and 77% of the Silent Generation begin their search online. With that in mind, I invested heavily in technology that would give RugyHome’s customer all the bells and whistle that big portals like Zillow and Redfin provide like daily listing alerts and a mobile-friendly website.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
There’s no question that the residential real estate industry has undergone a massive facelift in the last decade with a big shift to consumers searching for homes online.

Big chunks of venture capital have followed. And there’s one thing that happens after hot money invades a market: consolidation. That’s the next big thing in real estate – fewer companies chasing consumers. Specialty boutique brokerages still stand a chance to whistle past the graveyard.

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