ST. LOUIS — A St. Louis real estate startup has laid off part of its workforce, a move its CEO said is designed to ensure it outlasts the coronavirus pandemic with room for growth.

The decision comes as the company, Clever Real Estate, projects a continuing slowdown in the residential real estate market.

“The No. 1 rule we’ve seen for any type of crisis is to survive the crisis, and that’s really the only rule. We wanted to make sure we were capitalized enough to survive whatever the world throws at us. It’s pretty uncertain for when the market is going to get back to normal,” said CEO Ben Mizes.

Founded in 2017, Clever developed a software platform designed to connect home sellers with local real estate agents who then list the seller’s home for a flat fee of $3,000 or 1 percent for homes over $350,000. Clever has been backed by St. Louis-based investors that include Cultivation Capital and Capital Innovators. It has raised more than $5 million in funding since its founding.

Among Clever's biggest concerns is uncertainty on how long the COVID-19 pandemic will last. Mizes said the company will look to facilitate virtual home tours and sales closings in the meantime. It is expecting a strong economic rebound once the coronavirus crisis passes. As it navigates the upcoming weeks and months, Mizes said Clever doesn’t anticipate seeking new investor financing to weather the slowdown.

“We're remaining confident, excited and optimistic about the prospects of our business. This sucks, really sucks, that we had to make layoffs. You never want to see someone lose their job in an uncertain time," Mizes said. “As far as us, we’re going to be here and going to be successful in St. Louis for the longterm." 

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