Many homeowners have trouble corralling household expenses, wrangling home-related paperwork or keeping up with routine maintenance. AgeTech Collaborative™ startup participant HomeZada aims to bring order to the chaos via a web-based platform that can tame all those pesky homeowner challenges.
We chatted with HomeZada co-founder John Bodrozic to learn more about HomeZada and how it can especially benefit people who are 50-plus.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Will you tell us a little something about yourself and HomeZada?
My name is John Bodrozic. I'm one of three co-founders of HomeZada, which is a digital home management platform for consumers to manage their largest financial asset and biggest expense: their home.
And this is all based in an app?
You can access your HomeZada account with any device you want: a desktop, a laptop, a mobile phone. All of the data about your house is stored in one location, so you can use different devices to get access to it.
Let’s say someone just bought a house, and they’re interested in using HomeZada. What’s their process going to be for using it to its full functionality?
Essentially, you would go to our website with your preferred device and create an account. Then you choose from our three plans. The first tier is free; the second tier is for people who own one primary residence; and the top tier is for people who own multiple homes.
Then you get access to all the different features we offer. These include tracking a home inventory for insurance or estate planning purposes, preventative maintenance schedules, and dozens of templates to help manage remodeling projects and things like that. We even create a budgeting system for your home expenses so you have a single place to go and see what it costs you to own your home on an annual basis.
There's also a home finances piece that calculates your mortgage and how much equity you have and will update the value of your home.
In terms of budgeting and related features, does HomeZada have integrations with banks, so you can link it to your checking account, for example?
Yes, we do. You can connect your HomeZada account to pretty much any bank across the United States. Right now, it’s available for checking, savings and credit card accounts — whatever account or accounts you use to pay the bills for your house. Once you initiate the connection, HomeZada downloads all your transactions, then you can sort them out: “This is my mortgage payment; this is my water bill.” So you can aggregate all that data inside HomeZada.
Meanwhile, HomeZada has already used our proprietary tool to create a budget of what we think it’s costing you, so the setup is hardly any work for the user. We’ve found that users are more likely to use this budgeting feature — even if they have to adjust some of the numbers we provide — than if they had to enter everything manually themselves.
Clearly, this is a valuable tool for homeowners of any age. Are there features that specifically benefit those who are 50-plus?
There are quite a few. For example: As people get older, they may not be able to keep up with routine maintenance scheduling, or if they need to hire a contractor, they’re afraid they’ll be taken advantage of. HomeZada lets their grown children manage their home and its finances, whether they live across the street or across the country.
People in a certain age bracket tend to have a lot of equity in their home, and a lot of financial planning at that age is dealing with the equity in your house with regard to life decisions. Do you want to downsize to a smaller house and use the equity for travel or medical expenses? Or maybe you want to leverage the equity for renovations so you can stay in your house, what I call “aging in place projects” — perhaps hiring a contractor to come in and retrofit various fixtures and rooms to accommodate mobility issues, for example.
What prompted you and your cofounders to start HomeZada in the first place?
We had all worked at a previous software company that did construction project management software for commercial builders, people who build high rises and stadiums and casinos. It was a completely different market, but the need was similar to the needs of HomeZada’s audience: having to manage a lot of data.
My co-founder Elizabeth Dodson had just moved into a new house, and one day she came into the office and said, “I can manage all the data in all these commercial building projects, but I can’t manage the data about my own house.” Like most of us, she had papers in a desk drawer, owner’s manuals in a closet, sticky notes here and there, and maybe some Google spreadsheets. We realized that in this day and age, there should be one app where people can store and manage all the information about their house. So we decided to create it.
When did you first make the connection that HomeZada could be of particular benefit to people 50-plus?
A year or two after we launched, we started getting phone calls from estate attorneys asking, “Hey, does your home inventory work for an estate plan?” We’d get calls from customers saying, “I live in Chicago but my parents live in Florida. Can I manage their house from my HomeZada account?”
We got this kind of feedback from a lot of consumers, so we started adding various features and tweaks specifically for the aging population.
Is there anything else about HomeZada you’d like to share?
From the statistics I’ve seen, the boomer generation numbers about 70 million people. Those people are part of the AgeTech age bracket, and 65–70% of them are homeowners. So from a societal perspective, there’s a lot of opportunity, because more and more people are going to be making these decisions about their homes that we discussed. And we’re excited to be a part of AARP and the Collaborative, because it’s a big opportunity for everybody involved to reach those people.