Building an International Home Search Portal with Chet Kittleson, Co-founder and CEO of Far Homes

Hosted by
Nate Smoyer

Chet Kittleson, Co-founder and CEO of Far Homes, shares how the company is simplifying international home buying. Born from the pandemic's remote work trend, Far Homes helps people buy and sell homes abroad, starting with Mexico. They offer a thorough real estate search platform, connect buyers with local agents, and focus on high-demand markets like Cancun and the Riviera Maya.

Far Homes aims to be the go-to for global cross-border purchase financing, with tools like the Financing Finder making the process easier. One thing Chet points out is that despite all the possibilities with technology, agents remain a vital part of the equation when it comes to buying real estate both abroad and domestically.

More about Chet and Far Homes
Far Homes is a real estate company that is making it easier to find and buy homes in international destinations in a world where more and more people can live and work anywhere. Founded by real estate industry veterans in 2022, the company is working to simplify the international home-buying and selling experience through a technology-powered marketplace. Far Homes has built a database of pre and new-construction, and existing homes for sale making it easy to find the home you want. The company has a bilingual customer service team who respond quickly, and a network of local, multi-lingual partner agents with experience helping buyers from outside the country navigate the home buying and selling process.

Far Homes has raised more than $2 million from PSL Ventures, Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman, and DoorDash co-founder Evan Moore, among others.

Chet is the CEO of Far Homes, a US-based real estate start-up focused on simplifying the international home-buying experience. Chet started Far Homes in 2022 when the rise of remote work gave more people than ever the opportunity to live and work anywhere in the world, dramatically increasing the need for support in finding and buying a home in another country.

Prior to starting Far Homes, Chet spent 6 years at Redfin where he first led New Ventures, building off his strong background in partnerships to create millions of dollars in high-margin revenue before becoming the GM of Marketplaces.

Read Episode Transcript

Nate Smoyer (00:02.721)
Welcome to the show.

Chet Kittleson (00:04.622)
Thank you, Nate. I'm excited to be here.

Nate Smoyer (00:06.881)
Excited to have you. I didn't ask you beforehand because I really wanted to save the answer. Are you calling me from some crazy location somewhere around the world or you here in the States?

Chet Kittleson (00:19.374)
I wish if it was a week ago, I would have been in Cabo with my whole team. But today I'm in Seattle in the Pioneer Square Ventures. They have a co -working space for their portfolio company, so my team works out of here.

Nate Smoyer (00:31.553)
I mean, I know exactly where you're at. So good on you. Enjoy the Northwest. Hopefully you'll get a little bit of sunshine and not, yeah, it's hard to beat a great late spring, early summer day in the Northwest. It genuinely is difficult to beat that. Before I digress too far down that path, for everyone listening, I've got Chet Kittleson. He's co -founder and CEO of a company called Far Homes, a relatively new.

Chet Kittleson (00:33.678)
have you been here?

Chet Kittleson (00:39.47)
It's beautiful today.

Chet Kittleson (00:49.102)
I couldn't be more.

Nate Smoyer (01:01.153)
company in the prop tech landscape. They're US based real estate startup. They are focused on simplifying international home buying experience. Got started in 2022 when the rise of remote work gave more people opportunity to live in work wherever. So the first thing I was thinking about as I was digging into what you guys are working on and the problem here, I was just kind of curious. I was like, was this really the brainchild that came out of the shifts?

the pandemic? Or did you have this idea beforehand and the changes in the pandemic was the final oof to make you go for it?

Chet Kittleson (01:39.79)
I think it was a good combination of both, but I don't think we would have started it without the shift. I think I was curious about it for a while. I was at Redfin for several years before starting Farhomes with my co -founders. And international was, I ran new ventures or business development there, where I was basically sort of in the watchtower looking out at opportunities ahead.

And international was always something that all US real estate companies sort of think about and noodle on. But the opportunity of the US for those companies is so large and the landscape internationally is so different that we just didn't ever explore it. And so I was always curious, but the shift that the pandemic caused where we just saw more and more customers actively asking questions about other countries. You saw lots of brokerages building offices in other countries.

it started to feel uniquely obvious to us that there was something interesting to look at. And then a part of the story I don't ever tell, that I very rarely tell is my co -founder, Max Blumen, who was on my team at Redfin, and his grandfather started to look in Mexico for a house for sale. And so he then started coming peppering me with questions about it. And so it just very quickly became this thing we had to look at.

Nate Smoyer (03:04.289)
You're kind of like, hey, what is this thing you're doing? Why are you doing this? No one's helping you? Wait, there's a problem here and like, you're probably not the only person facing this. That's how those conversations I imagine go.

Chet Kittleson (03:07.662)

Chet Kittleson (03:16.142)
100%, yeah, we met up at a place called Beer Star in the neighborhood of White Center and we were looking at the emails he was getting from agents and we were like, we could do better. His grandfather, affluent, has the ability, like a very good buyer and him finding someone who speaks his language, who's responsive, who's attuned to his needs, it was hard.

Nate Smoyer (03:27.329)

Nate Smoyer (03:40.929)
Yeah, the international market, you know, quite frankly, I'm not super familiar with, although I did read Ryan Sirhant's, I forget when his first book was the, and Tell It Like Sirhant, maybe it might've been, but he talks about, you know, selling real estate in New York City, which is its own unique way. Like you're doing domestic deals, but often with international buyers and,

Chet Kittleson (03:57.742)
Okay, I don't read that.

Chet Kittleson (04:02.254)
I might as well be another time.

Chet Kittleson (04:07.534)

Nate Smoyer (04:09.793)
There's a fa it's a fascinating reading. It's actually really entertaining and enjoyable to read. He talks about like, he literally had a phantom buyer that he had like never met and actually flew overseas to like try and get the beating. And then the meeting fell through and like, and apparently this guy's done now like many, many, many multiple millions with him since, but it just seems like there's a lot less defined structure.

when you start doing international real estate. So talk to me about that. You're a US based company helping people buy internationally. What are some of the pros and cons here in trying to run a business like that?

Chet Kittleson (04:49.838)
Nate Smoyer (04:51.233)
as compared to domestically, if you were just purely working domestically.

Chet Kittleson (04:54.51)
Yeah, totally. Well, I'd say the biggest pro we have seen is it just feels like a market that hasn't had the same amount of investment that the US market has had. And so we're able to take a lot of the things that we've learned over the last, you know, me personally over the last decade, but that, you know, we as a company over the last several decades have learned in the US and to apply those things. And sometimes it is sort of apples to apples where

you know, you roll something out to agents that you that was, you know, sort of battle tested in the States and they're excited about it just like they were here. And it feels like table stakes here. And so there's just some, you know, there's been some, I would call it low hanging fruit opportunity for us to apply learnings in a different country and to have those things be perceived as this new, you know, sort of life, life shifting thing for our partners. And then I'd say the same thing for consumers. They want and expect.

Nate Smoyer (05:30.433)
Mm -hmm.

Chet Kittleson (05:54.318)
the service to be similar to what they're used to in their home country. But the reality is that structurally, the market is set up different and I can get more into, you know, how there's no multiple listing and almost, you know, MLS and almost all of Mexico. Agents are typically not licensed. There's not a good licensing process, et cetera. The list goes on. And so again, for us being able to do some light vetting.

So that we can say, hey, this is a legitimate agent. They actually do speak your language. They're gonna get back to you. We provided them with email templates so we know they'll get back to you with good written English. You know, feels transformational, not an overly complicated thing for us in the early days to build. And so those are some pros. You know, cons is, on the other side, it is a different world. You know, Mexico is our first country. We're excited about other countries too.

And just getting used to the fact that there's no MLS, you know, we're working very hard on listing aggregation and building a great search experience for an English speaking buyer, whether they're Canadian and want to see pricing in CAD or American and want to see in USD. And when you have eight agents that might represent the same listing and they all have a different perspective on what the price is, that's really challenging. You can't go to one source and be like, great, we've got all the listings now and we know we're 100 % accurate.

And so we feel, I personally feel excited about those things because over time they become a natural moat if we can do it well. But in the early days, you know, you sort of have the classic chicken and the egg problem where you've got to be a valuable entity so that people will treat you differently and in order to be able to treat you differently, you have to do all of these hard things. And so that's, you know, there are some unique challenges too.

Nate Smoyer (07:19.809)
Mm -hmm.

Nate Smoyer (07:39.041)
There's a lot to unpack in there. I actually want to push back a little bit towards, or go back a little bit to some of your experience. Obviously like some of your experience in having worked at Redfin can prepare you for, you know, trying to build a marketplace or doing listings aggregation, you know, but maybe talk through that. Like what is kind of what you've expected, but what's been the curve ball.

Chet Kittleson (08:03.954)
Yeah, good question, Nate. So I think my, let me just talk about what I did there a little bit. So for my first half, first half of my time there, I was, I was on and running the business development team. So that was partnerships, new business and &A corporate development. And then the second half of my time, the latter part was running their marketplace businesses. So basically the biggest one was their partner program, basically sort of, you know, a version of Zillow within Redfin.

a pay it close, you know, real estate referral program. And so the thing is that I took with me were, you know, we scaled the network of agents from I think 1500 or maybe 2000 to 10 ,000 over the course of three years and had to learn how do you recruit agents? How do you vet them upfront to make sure you're not letting wolves into the den? How do you vet them once they're in to continually make sure they're providing good service?

How do you collect revenue from them? How do you monetize, et cetera? And so I'd say all that has been very helpful for us and made it where it was pretty easy for us on day one to know exactly what to say to an agent to get them excited about the program, even though we were new and we had a pretty good lens for in an interview, what are you looking for? We would have them send us written templates to make sure they could write well, et cetera. So super helpful.

Nate Smoyer (09:23.585)
Mm -hmm.

Chet Kittleson (09:31.95)
The things that I didn't expect, I think something we've worried more about as we've gone on, and we can actually get into this later in terms of how we monetize, but there's no public records in Mexico, or at least they're not online. And so there's no way to actually verify whether or not a transaction has happened. And so...

You know, in the US, if you're a pay it close, real estate referral marketplace where you refer a customer to an agent and you get paid if that customer buys a home, you have pretty clear ability and we did it at Redfin to go in and look and see if the transaction happened. If there was fraud, you can go and approach the agent and say, hey, you know, you got to pay. In Mexico, we have no ability to do that. And so I think we worried.

Nate Smoyer (10:21.837)
I see what you're saying, okay.

Chet Kittleson (10:22.638)
as we went on more and more about fraud. And because of that, it's a part of the reason we've shifted our model to be a little closer to Zillow, where we're now a pay upfront marketplace and advertising fee. So anyway, there's some nuances there.

Nate Smoyer (10:35.873)
It makes a lot of sense because even in the US, but the way all of our transactions are recorded, it still doesn't mean that, especially if you're working on some sort of partner referral basis, it doesn't mean that you're not going to go chasing after some of those deals. I won't say who it is, but I know of another company in the space that works on that referral model. They were telling me that it was quite concerning. They didn't even know.

how much of their deals were going and closing and not coming back. And their estimates were somewhere between 30 and 50 % chasing after those referral based deals. Obviously, especially if you're early stage and you don't have the resources to have an entire team chasing after that, it seems next to impossible. So let's think into a little bit of the tech a little bit of what you've built.

Chet Kittleson (11:12.75)

Nate Smoyer (11:29.569)
what that looks like from the consumer side and then also how that's working with agents on the international basis.

Chet Kittleson (11:34.766)
Yeah, so on the consumer side, we've had, I'd say, two core pillars over the last two years of existing. One has been what I'd call real estate search and discovery. And for me, this is absolute top of the funnel. How do you get someone who's interested in Mexico and deliver them both content? And I'd say sort of like overly well designed and meticulously thought through.

content for them. So we have a very detailed infographic style buying guide that walks them through every step of the process, how much they should expect to spend, how long that part of the process takes, how it differs from the process in their home country, etc. In that same vein, we have destination guides, again, sort of, you know, probably spent almost too much time on making sure that we can really teach you about what Cabo San Lucas is all about, how it's organized versus Cancun or Tulum or...

or wherever that you're looking. So a series of content that just helps you at the surface understand, can I buy a house here? How's it work? And then tell me more about these areas. And then the other half of that is the real estate listing search itself. We've made the most progress here on our first market, which is Cancun in the Riviera Maya. So basically Cancun down to Tulum, the Caribbean coast, where, you know, at this point we've aggregated thousands of listings.

I think, I believe we have either the third or fourth most listings of any website in the Riviera Maya. And that's all us having to go and bootstrap, you know, getting listings directly from partners, whether it's a brokerage or an individual agent or a developer. In the early days, that was, you know, me sending cold emails and cold calls, you know, saying, hey, here's how we work. I'd love to promote your listings. And I think over time it's morphed into we get a lot of outreach.

Nate Smoyer (13:10.273)

Nate Smoyer (13:17.665)
Mm -hmm.

Chet Kittleson (13:31.47)
directly from developers, sellers themselves, and then listing agents asking how to get their inventory on our site. And so we've done a lot of work to normalize those listings, translate the currency, which is actually not as simple as you'd think, because a lot of websites are half USD and half pesos, even though they might say always pesos or always USD. So we've had to create weird rules where you're like, if it's over X price and the footprint of the home is Y,

Nate Smoyer (13:54.273)

Chet Kittleson (14:00.942)
that probably means it's in pesos, even if it says USD, i .e. if it's like a one bedroom condo, not on the beach, and it says it's, you know, $10 million, probably not $10 million. And then this is an area where we haven't gotten there yet, but we're also pretty excited about how AI can help for us to do a better job of pulling out amenities to make real estate search more akin to what you'd experience in the US. So because there's no MLS, as I mentioned earlier,

Agents don't have a good process for structuring the listing in a way that makes it very easy to index and search. And so little things like does it have a pool? Typically the only way you can find out is by looking through the pictures or reading the description, but you can't filter by it has pool. And so we're excited to be able to use AI to just make it easy for us to both do image recognition and then look at the description and pull out all the amenities and make those searchable. We've done a little bit of that work, but not, you know, not a ton yet.

Nate Smoyer (14:30.593)
Mm -hmm.

Nate Smoyer (15:00.449)
That makes a ton of sense and sounds like maybe we got, we got to get Sam from Riso down to, to Mexico to get you guys some standardized data markup criteria here. Yeah. I was impressed by the amount of inventory that you had listed, just knowing that there's not really a central aggregator or source to get this. You know, there's no, there's no clouding around it, right? Like people complain about the MLSs.

Chet Kittleson (15:08.654)
All right.

Nate Smoyer (15:29.889)
and IDX feeds and they're like, it's so antiquated and this, that and the other, but like, even, you know, it's just, if you had that, you know, how much easier and simpler it would be to build this. But, you know, at the same time, I recognize that you kind of what you said at the top of the show, like this is an opportunity where there's been an investment. There's a lot to be built here. And this is also some of the challenge, but the challenge comes with a little bit of an upside. I also had, in my notes, you guys are doing a little bit of focus on like pre and new construction.

not just existing. Maybe you can talk a little bit about that since it would seem like that would be even more difficult as a product for consumers or international buyers to discover.

Chet Kittleson (16:11.63)
I'd say this is a market driven focus decision where in some markets, our first markets were Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and then there are some areas in between like Puerto Morelos if you know that area. And there's just so much development in these areas, largely driven by the boom we saw over the pandemic. There was so much home buyer demand that builders started building with a frenzy.

And so it just became obvious that both our consumers or shopping, these very nice, well -priced, clearly built for an expat purchaser, you know, the amenities are all there. It feels like a vacation retreat or retirement residence. And so it just became obvious that we needed to build a special experience for a presale home where we could tell you about some level of credibility with a builder, whether the project is fully funded or not.

how much time until the unit was going to be done, a description of who the builder was and how much experience they have. And then similarly, agents, they're really excited about presale too. Candidly, they oftentimes get paid a lot more commission on a presale deal. Builders just have a lot of incentive. And so they do a lot of pushing there as well. We've worked pretty hard on trying to make sure our consumers know.

Nate Smoyer (17:31.233)
Mm -hmm.

Chet Kittleson (17:33.838)
There's resale too, that's why we have resale on our site. There's also land that you can get developed, because sometimes I think agents might have a tendency to push it a little too hard. The incentives is almost too much in the favor of the presale. But the reality is, if you look at, you know, historicals over the last few years, oftentimes pre -construction has been a pretty good bet, where builders want to sell it because it's, you know, they have a lot of incentive to do so. And by the time it's done being built, there's a whole nother market of folks who are more comfortable.

because they're not worried about the project not delivering or being way different from what the renderings were, et cetera. And so we have lots of examples of customers who buy those pre -construction units and then turn around almost right after it's done being delivered and sell it for a premium to a buyer who just wasn't comfortable with a presale unit. So, yeah.

Nate Smoyer (18:24.257)
Now, as far as it goes, you know, taking some of this, the product you've created, you know, all the hard work and getting listings aggregated, how do you get this into or in front of the ideal buyers?

Chet Kittleson (18:39.982)
Lots of ways, this has been one of the areas where naturally as a marketplace we've had to spend the most time learning. And I would actually say where I probably had the least expertise going in. So it's been a really interesting and fun simulating challenge for us. Similar to the US portals, search is by far the most compelling way to drive home buyer demand.

One of the first hires we made was the person, a guy named Jacob Klein, who ran SEO at Redfin for several years. And so I'd say from day, effectively day zero, we were working very hard on building a long -term organic engine. Lots of brain shoots there, but Google and Bing are beasts that you can't control. And so we're still excited for those efforts to pay off.

But that's one, and then obviously paid via Google as well has been a great source. Outside of that, we have referral partnerships. There's a really great, well -respected expat -focused site that's been around for a long time called an Experience. We are their real estate partner, so anyone that goes to an Experience, just for general information and inquiries about being an expat, and they land on the real estate experience is basically a whole.

you know, bio on Farhomes and how we're the best way to get connected with a local agent that speaks your language within, you know, within minutes. And it links to sort of a co -brand landing page we built for them. And we've got a few others. There's a site called xBatZ that does a lot of promotion for us via their social channels and website. So we've gotta be pretty creative, a combination of partnerships and, you know, an organic slash paid search.

Nate Smoyer (20:24.609)
Yeah, very cool. And I mean, it's music to my ears as a marketer, to, to hear from Dave is essentially day zero, putting an emphasis and thinking about content structure and SEO to drive inbound. I think this is, it's easy one to kind of put off and say, we don't have time for that. Now we have to get results today. We have to people here, but it is one that, I think other founders can take away as a lesson here that the, the outcomes of those efforts can compound.

over time. And it's I look at it like a savings account. You know, you just have to put money aside at some point, because when you go to write that check, you can't say, man, I wish we would have been putting money aside so that you can write that check.

Chet Kittleson (21:07.118)
Totally. It's really challenging. I'm a believer. I saw it benefit past companies and I see it benefiting us today. I think we ranked fourth for homes for sale in Cancun, either fourth or fifth. And so I see it, but it is hard. We did take venture in the early days. I actually raised before I left my previous job. And so there's a clock and you have areas you can invest where you have a high degree of certainty.

they will impact in the time you need them to create impact. And then other areas that you know are the right areas to invest long -term, but that you can almost guarantee won't actually create any amount of impact by the time you need to raise your next round of funding. The right investors who are strategic see this is a good long -term play. I see you're already making progress here, but you're paying money every single day for resources that you have to just believe are gonna pay off.

term and I have like it's the easiest money for me to spend I have every belief it's the right money to spend but I understand why it's hard for founders because you're trying to be especially in this market you're trying to run very lean you're trying to be super smart with your cash and it's easy to only spend time on things that you know we're gonna create an impact today not not a year from now or two years from now.

Nate Smoyer (22:25.409)

Yeah, absolutely. Kind of speaking to that, you know, of today's environment, you know, obviously there's one side which is fundraising, but the other side is the consumer finances, the buyer finances. You know, the US real estate market has been what a dynamic show for typically a very slow moving, slowly evolving industry. And the interest...

Chet Kittleson (22:50.67)
Ha ha ha.

Nate Smoyer (22:56.801)
you know, environment today in the U S has obviously stifled, some demand first time buyers still active, but it's also interesting enough. It's such a contrast that people who bought, who could or would have, you know, in, in years past, maybe have sold are, you know, they're locking in, so they're not going anywhere. They're just the 4 % sub 4 % lock in rate, effect is, is real. What's this doing for international?

as far as behaviors and demand from consumers. And also I'm interested in the underwriting. Who's financing deals when buying internationally?

Chet Kittleson (23:35.918)
Yeah, I have several answers to this one. The first one is just the most honest answer, which is it's really hard for us to know with any degree of certainty how much it's affecting us because we didn't exist in a low interest rate environment. And so to some extent, I'm very thankful for that because I'm assuming it's got to be impactful in some negative ways.

Nate Smoyer (23:51.873)

Chet Kittleson (24:02.094)
And had we built a business on the back of low interest rates and hired a team around it and all of a sudden interest rates plummeted and our conversion rates drop, you know, we would have been in a really sticky situation. And so, you know, my hope is we're building a business in some of the hardest times and it's forcing us to be super creative across the board and run really lean across the board so that as things get better, you know, we'll be in that much better of a position. That being said, I do hear from customers a fair amount.

that one of the reasons that Mexico is exciting to them is because of how priced out of homes, be it because of interest rates and or home prices, obviously those things are sort of tied together in the States. A lot of our customers are retirees, they've been saving up for a long time, they wanted to get a place near the coast and they just, they can't afford it. It's not a responsible decision for them anymore, but they can get a beautiful spot in Playa del Carmen for a couple hundred thousand bucks.

maybe a little more if they want to be on the beach, but there's still totally reasonable options for them. And those buyers oftentimes, they have cash at a side, they've been saving up, they're not relying on pulling it out of their home. And so I think there's some tailwinds there too, but if I had to guess overall, it's probably a headwind. We're doing a bunch of work on this. So we have a tool called the Financing Finder. I think it's a first of its kind tool. I've tried to find something like it.

Nate Smoyer (25:11.649)

Chet Kittleson (25:28.174)
and I'm pretty happy with it. Basically, you go through a questionnaire, we ask you questions like what country you're from, if you own a house there, just get a sense of who you are. And then we spit out a pretty customized blog post now. For now, it's basically a blog post that says, hey, based on everything we just learned about you, here are the six or 10 or 14 options that you could consider. And it goes everything from how they collateralize assets back home, a HELOC, a home equity loan.

which no one's going to do right now, obviously, or at least most people won't do, to cross -border lenders. There are a few companies that are now working on what we call a cross -border loan, which is can you actually collateralize the house in Mexico and get a mortgage for it? Those interest rates historically have been way higher than a U .S. home purchase, 10, 12, 13%, and the origination fees are higher. Typically, they were...

Nate Smoyer (26:22.529)

Chet Kittleson (26:25.71)
2 % whereas in the States, standard origination fee is like a half of, you know, 500, what is it? A half a percent. And now that interest rates in the States are higher, some of our consumers have said, well, these don't look quite as bad. 10 % isn't that much different from a 8 % loan for a second home in the US or a 9 % loan for a second home in the US. So again, hard to know exactly where it nets out. If I had to guess, it's more of a headwind than a tailwind, but there are some customer segments where it's actually been kind of helpful for.

Nate Smoyer (26:30.625)
Yeah, yeah.

Nate Smoyer (26:44.129)
Mm -hmm.

Chet Kittleson (26:55.342)
And so, yeah, there's a lot more work we wanna do here. I think there's an interesting opportunity for someone to become the authority for global cross -border purchase financing. Every single country has its own ways of collateralizing assets for you to do from your home country or for you to buy in the other country. And most agents who specialize in what I'll call

international purchasers in their country. So an agent in Playa del Carmen who specializes in helping American and Canadians, they don't know anything about how to help that consumer in America or Canada. And so, you know, there's definitely some opportunities for us here.

Nate Smoyer (27:41.313)
Yeah, I would imagine though, even still like, kind of as you mentioned earlier, a lot of the infrastructure to finding and securing property internationally still needing yet to be built out. As that gets built out, interest and availability is only likely to increase. So even with, you know, if interest rates stay like those higher rates as you talked about.

It should in turn in the long run, it should over time build demand and interest. And so then I could see obviously a speculation that the real estate will rise in value. But if you have an increase in demand and an increase in visibility, you know, you're the number of potential buyers is greater and it should drive prices making, you know, some of these properties potentially just as valuable as, you know, longer term investments or holds as you would maybe in other places in the States. Would you agree?

Chet Kittleson (28:35.214)
I mean, we're betting on it. Yeah, it's part of the thesis, I think, behind the company. And I think we have a role to play in that if we can make it where folks feel like it's more accessible and more comfortable to buy a house in a different country with the content, with the sort of authoritative real estate search product, with the agent connection, which we didn't really talk about before, but the agent connection technology that we built in our building. You know, our hope is that we can drive more buyers to realize that a border is just a line that we drew.

and they should buy a house where they want to.

Nate Smoyer (29:08.609)
I could go down a whole deep rabbit hole on borders. I think Netflix has a really good documentary on that. But I'm gonna go ahead and skip that one for now because we're gonna dive into the last segment of this show. I like to call For the Future. For the Future is when I get to ask each guest who comes on a show to give their best predictions based on the following four questions. Chet, are you ready to play?

Chet Kittleson (29:13.358)


Chet Kittleson (29:30.318)
I am ready to play.

Nate Smoyer (29:32.001)
Okay, let's do this. Number one, nice and easy. What does Far Homes look like one year from now?

Chet Kittleson (29:38.862)
One year from now, Farhomes is operating in at least five markets across Mexico. Right now we're in Cancun, we're basically in the Riviera Maya, the Caribbean coast, and we're just starting expansion to Cabo. We're in our first conversations there, but I think a year from now we're live and thriving in Cabo, Puerto Vallarta.

And then a couple of other TV markets, Oaxaca, Santa Lita, Merida, San Miguel de Allende, you know, we're still looking at where we'd go next. I think we made a lot of progress on... Did I cut out for a second? Okay. I think we made a lot of progress on both real estate search and continue to be a more authoritative player there where you can find lots of good inventory that's very well...

well built for you as an international home searcher. And I think we're working with hundreds of agents and dozens of brokerages across our markets to help serve the demand.

Nate Smoyer (30:50.017)
Very cool. Number two, what is not currently today a challenge, but could become a challenge buying internationally over the next few years?

Chet Kittleson (31:06.894)
That's a good question. I mean, my honest answer is I think it's much likelier that it is the inverse of that, that over the next few years it gets easier. We're just seeing a lot of investment being made into cross -border lenders. There's a company called Java that's backed by Metaprop, obviously a prolific prop tech investor in the US that's really helping them unlock where they get collateral assets from to be able to fund cross -border loans. So I think financing gets easier and continues to be more and more...

Nate Smoyer (31:27.969)
Mm -hmm.

Chet Kittleson (31:36.366)
competitive with financing in your own home country. I think we're doing a lot of work to make real estate search more localized for you, agent connection more localized for you. And so mostly I'm bullish that it's hard now and it's gonna only get easier. What are areas where it could get harder? I mean, all I can do is pause it on like, I don't know if there is some.

If there's some cross -country challenges where a government in the US doesn't get along with government somewhere else, that could create issues. But I don't have anything specific I can think of.

Nate Smoyer (32:15.873)
Yeah, no worries. Hopefully nothing gets too difficult between the US, Mexico. I think it's a pretty strategic, very strategic play to keep those things working well there. All right, number three on for the future. What's one industry trend that you think will continue, but you wish would go away?

Chet Kittleson (32:19.982)
I think we're in a good job. Yeah, exactly.


Chet Kittleson (32:34.158)
I don't think rates are going to go down anytime soon. I don't have a crystal ball to know when or if, but I don't have any strong, you know, signal on my end from the people I talk to and the, and the, and the things I read that make me feel confident that it's going to go back to 3%, you know, anytime in the near future. And I would love for rates to go back down. What do you think? You think they're going to go down?

Nate Smoyer (32:58.305)

Nate Smoyer (33:03.297)
You know, I don't give predictions on this very often, but yeah, I'll entertain this here. I'll go out on a limb. So I think we'll see potentially modest. I mean, ultra modest. If we saw anything, I would say take us down into the very high sixes at best this year. But I did not long ago read a very interesting stat, which is like basically since I think the Great Depression,

Chet Kittleson (33:22.638)

Nate Smoyer (33:32.769)
The fourth year of a first term presidency, 100 % of the time is an up economy.

Chet Kittleson (33:42.83)

Nate Smoyer (33:43.937)
since the Great Depression. So basically you can argue that it's in every bit of the advantage of the sitting administration to do whatever they must to ensure an up economy happens. That being said, the Fed isn't exactly at the whim of politics and is one of the larger influencers of interest rates.

Chet Kittleson (33:45.934)
Interesting. I like that.

Nate Smoyer (34:14.657)
So I don't think that they're going to be bending to fit a political agenda here. And unfortunately, if job growth is strong, if economic growth is strong, well, you're just not gonna get, I don't think you're gonna get the relief from the Fed, not the sole factor of interest rates, but I don't think you're gonna get the relief from the Fed to push interest rates down. I just don't think that's gonna happen.

Chet Kittleson (34:42.158)
Yeah, yeah, interesting.

Nate Smoyer (34:45.441)
All right, last one here for the future. What's one thing you believe will dramatically change or fade away in real estate as a result of tech advances?

Chet Kittleson (34:55.566)
One thing I believe that will dramatically fade away as a result of tech advances or change or fade away. This is where I feel like the sexy answer is, you know, between what's happening with, you know, the NAR settlement.

Nate Smoyer (35:02.625)
Mm -hmm.

Chet Kittleson (35:22.35)
and the buyer's agency agreement in the US. That's obviously US specific, but my partners in Mexico ask about it. Generally they say stuff in the US trickles down here three, six, nine months later. And so it does feel like it's international. Between that, between advances in AI, that you're gonna see some major shift in the way that people buy and sell homes, that maybe they don't need an agent quite the same way. And maybe I'm just becoming old fashioned.

Nate Smoyer (35:23.905)

Nate Smoyer (35:37.153)

Chet Kittleson (35:52.11)
But man, I talk to consumers all the time and no matter what, they all just want someone to hold their hand. They want an agent, they're okay spending a little bit of money because it's the most money they ever spend on a transaction in their life. And so I personally don't see the role of the agent shifting in any major ways and I continue to bet on the agent. I think we can build tools to make the agent more powerful. Maybe that's a way to get them to be comfortable.

driving their costs down because they can all do more deals per year and still not have to work 100 hours a week. But I don't know, you know, my time in real estate has showed me that things move slow and it's because consumers do this transaction very few times in their life. And so the folks that are in it, that are in the trenches like us feel like stuff's gotta change. But for the people, the consumers, they're like, what do you mean? I've only bought two houses in my whole life. It's not.

Nate Smoyer (36:37.409)
Mm -hmm.

Nate Smoyer (36:47.329)
I'm going to give you an example of how much consumers don't like change. Talk to anybody who goes to the grocery store after they've remodeled the floor plan.

Chet Kittleson (36:50.062)

Nate Smoyer (36:57.665)
They'll lose their heads. why would they put it over here? I can't believe they changed it. If people can get upset about grocery store floor plans, you're not going to change half million dollar transactions on the consumer and think that that's not going to make things up in arms or cause additional friction.

Chet Kittleson (36:59.086)

Chet Kittleson (37:15.566)
Yeah, yeah. So, so yeah, I think because of that, my bets are always on how do you make agents more efficient? How do you empower consumers to do more on their own? And maybe, maybe you eke out some more marginal changes. But if I had to guess 10 years from now, you know, the real estate market generally operates in a pretty similar fashion where folks want to use an agent, maybe on both sides, maybe on one, you know, maybe, maybe it's one agent on both sides. I don't know. But the jet folks generally want to use an agent.

And that those ages just continue to get better and better at doing their job and consumers have more and more knowledge at their fingertips because of advancements we're making.

Nate Smoyer (37:55.393)
I couldn't agree more. I have more on that to say. I have shifted over the years on this, this point.

Chet Kittleson (38:00.814)
We all have, if you've been in real estate for 10, 15, 20 years, you can't not ship because you see the consumer.

Nate Smoyer (38:04.929)
I have shifted. I have, I believe in, I do more today than I have previously, even after being an agent believe in the, the, the role of the buyer's agent and how important it is. There's a really interesting Tik Tok. You can look it up if you're interesting. This guy goes by the older millennial and he did this rant. He's like a trillion dollar idea for all you VC and tech people. Why don't you just build the plot, the product that walks us through on how to buy a home and then we don't have to spend thousands of dollars with the agent. I was like, I love.

that you think it is that simple. And in theory, it could be, but it isn't, and it's not likely to be. And so.

Chet Kittleson (38:41.038)
I mean, I have seen some very compelling tech and service be built over and over again to do just that. And it consistently fails. And it's not for lack of trying. It's not for lack of investment. It's not for lack of sophistication. It's for lack of consumer demand. You push it out even on a big platform where it gets tons of exposure and folks say, but can you connect to an agent? So yeah.

Nate Smoyer (39:08.929)
Chet, this has been a lot of fun. Thank you sharing so much about what you guys are building at Farhomes, the opportunity here to work internationally with residential real estate transactions. Pretty impressive, the amount of inventory that you've been able to aggregate pulled together when this doesn't really exist in any other way. Before we close out, for those who want to get in touch with you and or learn more about Farhomes, where do they go and how do they do that?

Chet Kittleson (39:35.63)
Yeah, you can email me. It's just my name at farhomes .com. Check C -H -E -T at farhomes .com.

Nate Smoyer (39:43.553)
Perfect. We'll have links of course in the show notes. You can check that out on techness .io. When you visit, make sure you go ahead and join the newsletter where you get your marketing article and as well, PropTech news and featured episodes during the month. Until then, Chet, I appreciate your time. We'll catch you later.

Chet Kittleson (40:02.606)
Thank you, Nate.