When Noah Isaacs and John Meadows were best friends growing up in Berkeley, Calif., they dreamed of remaining friends for life. What they didn’t imagine was living together in New York and starting a company together — yet they have. It’s called Bowery Valuation, and it’s aiming to bring commercial real estate appraisals — currently an $8 billion market — into the modern era at long last.
Investors certainly see the need for an upgrade. The nearly three-year-old outfit just raised $5 million in seed funding, including from Cushman & Wakefield. In fact, the real estate giant is now using the startup’s technology to automate and optimize the entire appraisal process, allowing its appraisers to provide multi-family valuation services (meaning for apartment complexes) at a much larger scale for the first time.
For Cushman & Wakefield, that’s a big deal. The valuation and appraisal piece of real estate has remained largely unchanged over time. Appraisers trudge through properties, scribble down details, snap pictures and complete a painstaking analysis afterward that includes visiting more than a dozen sites to collect information about taxes, zoning and land use. It’s sufficiently onerous that until Bowery came along, Cushman employees typically appraised only bigger commercial buildings — a missed opportunity given that in New York, apartment complexes make up the majority of the buildings.