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The New Home Team for Home Sales

Homeshake is tweaking the local homebuying process, with plans to go national.

by Elizabeth Miller Wood

The rise and success of Homeshake is a classic Cincinnati tale. Long before the company’s birth, co-founder Nick Rabin coached elementary football alongside co-founder Jonathan Bennie’s father. Years later, Bennie, a real estate attorney, connected professionally with Rabin, a real estate investor.

Then came the big idea: an agent-free home marketplace where buyers and sellers connected directly. Low fees. Expert support. Less overhead. Less paper shuffling. “There was a lot of frustration among consumers regarding the cost to sell a house and the service and experience that often accompanied that,” says Rabin.

Homeshake was born at Cintrifuse in 2020, nurtured at the 1819 Innovation Hub, and then expanded at Union Hall. “It’s got Cincinnati fingerprints all over it,” says Bennie.

The digital platform charges sellers 1 percent of their listing price. With the average Homeshake listing around $500,000, the fee savings can be $25,000 per transaction compared to traditional broker fees. “That’s a new car or a year of college tuition,” says Rabin. “It’s the kind of money that moves the needle for families.”

Homeshake customers, contrary to whom Bennie and Rabin thought they’d be attracting, have been through the buying and selling process before—not necessarily the younger, digitally native crowd they were expecting. It’s the seasoned sellers who understand the pain points of traditional real estate transactions and can appreciate the Homeshake value proposition. “They’re confident sellers and buyers,” says Bennie. “They don’t need to go through the traditional route; they just need a little help from professionals like us. And that’s what we can provide.”

Corporate relocation partnerships are another consumer avenue Homeshake is actively expanding, a win-win scenario that could help companies slash relocation budgets.

Because Homeshake properties are not listed on MLS, the company must prioritize strategies to help their properties and their brand get seen. All listings are available on Zillow, and the company makes itself visible through billboards, direct mail, and media and digital advertising as well as earned media coverage.

With five full-time staffers and various third-party contractors, the team is still small but growing. In January, Homeshake closed its seed round of fundraising on WeFunder, with $1.225 million to show for it. The investment will help fund several new hires, including Chief Marketing Officer Kyle Naughtrip and Chief Technology Officer Tim Ross.

With a consumer interface that’s accessible and responsive, Homeshake prides itself on excellent customer service, boasting 100 percent 5-star Google ratings from happy customers.

The closing tables are amicable celebrations, sometimes accompanied by happy tears and the exchange of addresses for Christmas cards. “Homeshake reinjects that humanity, that emotion, back into buying and selling a home,” says Bennie.

The Homeshake platform is currently offered throughout Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, with short-term expansions planned across both states. From there, Bennie and Rabin expect to break into regional markets such as Nashville and Raleigh, North Carolina.