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Real estate website Movoto opens first brokerage office nationwide in Fresno

Movoto, which got its start as an online real estate search company, has opened a brokerage office in Fresno, at 6475 N. Palm Avenue, Suite 105. Staff from left, front row: Marian Medeles, real estate agent, Liz Chu, real estate agent, Julie Fulcher, area manager, Rigo Rivela, real estate agent. Back row, from left: Eddie Rendon, broker, Mark Chu, broker, Gary Carter, broker, Patrick Gallardo, real estate agent.
Movoto, which got its start as an online real estate search company, has opened a brokerage office in Fresno, at 6475 N. Palm Avenue, Suite 105. Staff from left, front row: Marian Medeles, real estate agent, Liz Chu, real estate agent, Julie Fulcher, area manager, Rigo Rivela, real estate agent. Back row, from left: Eddie Rendon, broker, Mark Chu, broker, Gary Carter, broker, Patrick Gallardo, real estate agent. jwalker@fresnobee.com

Movoto, a nationwide online real estate brokerage known for its quirky housing surveys, has chosen Fresno for its first-ever brick-and-mortar real estate office.

For years, the San Mateo-based company operated only online, providing users a way to search properties for sale, then connecting them with contracted Realtors or partner agents. Now, Movoto is looking to establish offices across the country with their own real estate agents.

Fresno beat Sacramento, San Jose, Napa, San Francisco and Oakland for the company’s first office location, temporarily located on Palm Avenue, north of Sierra Avenue. The brokerage has signed a five-year lease for a 5,000-square-foot space on the southwest corner of Palm and Herndon avenues.

“We performed a great deal of research, coupled with the fact that Movoto.com has always performed well here,” said Max Diez, director of real estate operations. “We, as a company, felt it was a great place to start our first brokerage nationwide.”

Movoto (pronounced moe-voe-toe) was an internet startup founded in 2005 and run by entrepreneurs who, like the creators of many other online real estate companies, wanted to make the search for buyers and sellers easy. It operates similarly to Redfin, which started operating in the Fresno area in October 2014 with one area manager.

We, as a company, felt it was a great place to start our first brokerage nationwide.

Max Diez, director of real estate operations

The brokerage becomes a member of local Multiple Listing Services and uses that information to create a searchable, up-to-date database for online users. Fun blogs and surveys – about the lighter side of real estate – such as the safest and most exciting places to live, gardening, home repair and more also can be found on Movoto’s website.

In 2013, the company was acquired by Recruit Holdings, a global human resources company based in Japan that pledged to make Movoto the No.1 online real estate service in the U.S. Recruit operates Japan’s top real estate website, Suumo.

The decision to open offices was made to “improve customer business,” Diez said.

Movoto hired its first Fresno agent, Marian Medeles, about 10 months ago and began selling properties. It blanketed the city with billboards and radio advertisements announcing the company name and special programs available only in Fresno, such as its satisfaction guarantee. If a seller is not fully satisfied with the service, Movoto will refund the listing commission.

Julie Fulcher, the Fresno office manager, who previously worked for Guarantee Real Estate and London Properties, said she never has worked for a company with that kind of promise.

“Movoto is really very different from any other broker in town on how they approach buying and selling real estate, but also how they approach client satisfaction,” said Fulcher, who has been in real estate 14 years.

Three local brokers, Mark Chu of Big Realty, Eddie Rendon of IRealty Group and Gary Carter of G & G Realty Solutions, and their real estate companies have also joined the team, for a total of more than 30 agents. Marti Cook, who was Redfin’s manager, also made the move.

(Movoto) knew they had to come into Fresno and become Fresnans. They couldn’t just be the status quo.

Julie Fulcher, Movoto area manager

Recruiting locally and engaging with the community is important to Movoto, Fulcher said. The office recently held a food drive at Grocery Outlet stores to benefit Community Food Bank and has participated in or donated to events put on by the Fresno County Library and the Central Valley Heroes.

“Fresno is different in the real estate world, where the largest brokers are not your nationwide names. … In Fresno it’s two locally owned companies and they continue to be the two top-producing brokers in the whole area,” Fulcher said. “(Movoto) knew they had to come into Fresno and become Fresnans. They couldn’t just be the status quo.”

BoNhia Lee: 559-441-6495, @bonhialee

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