South Florida startup can help you find and close on your dream home using AI tech – Refresh Miami

4 minutes, 18 seconds Read

By Krysten Brenlla

As South Florida’s economy and job market flourish, the real estate market has become saturated – between bidding wars and heightened competition on popular platforms like Zillow and Realtor, the traditional methods of searching for a new home is complicated, to say the least.

Buy/sell, rent/lease residential &
commercials real estate properties.

Originally from West Africa, when Sixtus Kuudaar was accepted to Florida State University, he and his family spent hours looking for the perfect apartment to settle in. However, once they arrived to Tallahassee, they noticed that the apartments in person were not as they seemed online. Similarly, when Alexis Leonard was moving back to her hometown of Miami after studying at Florida State University, she found a house she loved – until she realized the listing was altered.

So, the two teamed up to co-found Miami startup Ciya in 2021 – formerly known as VisionX. When they first started, VisionX was a tool that used AI to determine whether photos of properties have been edited. If they were, the platform would provide a warning to their users.

Now, more than two years later, Ciya has transformed into an all-in-one platform for real estate.

“Searching online for a new place to live was stressful, time consuming, and expensive,” said Kuudaar, CEO and co-founder of CIYA. “I kept asking myself – why hasn’t technology penetrated this industry? I set out to solve that.”

Ciya’s updates now include an online application that allows sellers to list their homes on their local Multiple Listing Service (MLS) without the need of a traditional agent. Through a simple sign-up process, sellers have the option to select different listing packages, and depending on the package they choose, they’ll have a new listing on their local MLS and other local real estate sites within minutes. Ciya’s Standard and Premium packages include upgrades like professional HDR photos, advertising and promotional items, virtual tours, and real estate/marketing personnel and support.

For those looking to purchase a home, the Ciya application uses artificial intelligence to match a potential buyer with their specific criteria. Additionally, Ciya has integrated an AI cold caller feature to help realtors and sellers nurture leads. The feature includes automated calling, AI-driven interactions, lead management, and integration into software systems.

“For buyers, Ciya is like TikTok for real estate,” Kuudaar continued. “First, a user should create a free account, and then when they log in, it will ask them for house criteria. As the buyer scrolls through the homes that match their criteria, they can like the ones that match with what they’re looking for, and through the artificial intelligence technology, the app will show the user more homes that are similar to the ones they’ve liked.”

The co-founders originally scaled Ciya with the help of pitch competitions at Florida State University, and the TechCrunch pitch competition in San Francisco. Soon after, they saw the booming real estate market in Miami and South Florida, and applied to participate in Endeavor Miami. They were accepted, and the program ultimately helped Ciya break into the Miami market.

“Miami’s real estate market is so huge, and the city itself is so diverse with huge opportunities to break into the tech industry,” Kuudaar said. “To me, Miami is likely to become the next San Francisco when it comes to tech.”

The main goal with Ciya is to continue growing the platform to be a one-stop-shop for buyers to find and close on their homes in record time. Once a buyer is matched with a potential home through Ciya, they then help the buyer get pre-qualified to purchase a home immediately, and will connect the buyer with a real estate agent to help with their buying process. Ciya also has a network of title and brokerage companies for buyers to utilize.

“The major opportunity for buyers using Ciya is that we break down the time for a buyer to purchase a house tremendously,” Kuudaar said. “For most people, it takes about four months to close on a house. With Ciya, we help people close a house in about three weeks.”

For the future, Kuudaar and Leonard are looking to break into the rental market to help tenants find roommates and rental properties in South Florida. Through this new update, Ciya will seamlessly connect potential rental tenants with roommates, and display homes that meet their criteria, price range, and location needs.

Additionally, for the future, Kuudaar and Leonard are hoping to expand their services to different markets outside of Florida, such as Texas and North Carolina.

“The big vision for Ciya is to make it a one-stop-shop for real estate,” Kuudaar said. “We want Ciya to have everything available for users – whether that’s renting, selling, or buying their next home.”


Krysten Brenlla is the Media Relations Specialist for Jackson Health System, where she manages media relations for the health system’s cardiology, neurosurgery, rehabilitation, and Miami Transplant Institute service lines. Prior to her role at Jackson, Krysten worked at Florida International University as an Account Manager for FIU’s Office of Engagement. In 2022, Krysten obtained her master’s degree in Global Strategic Communication from FIU.
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